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- COVID has crushed the international tourism sector
- It is possible to model the sentiment of those who will be the first tourists and design a suitable story for them
- There are organizations that are already preparing their post-pandemic message
How will the first foreign vacation tourist arrive in my country after the pandemic? What have been your main fears to come and what are your incentives to do so? And, in practical terms, what story do you have to tell him today so that he comes to visit us tomorrow? Although technically difficult to know, some organizations are already working on it.
The terrifying current story
COVID has crushed tourism. UNWTO data shows that, from January to October 2020, the number of world visitors declined by 900 million people.
At the very least, millions of flight bookings were lost between round trips. Millions of consumptions were also lost in restaurants, cafes, hotels, discos, museums and amusement parks. Thousands of businesses and jobs are evaporating every day. And the UNWTO predicts global losses of 2 trillion dollars. The situation is terrifying and there is little we can do here apart from sending encouragement to those affected.
There are those who already live in another story
But, despite everything, certain actors continue to bet on tourism in the long term and take advantage of this painful time preparing for the moment when everything is solved. This is the case, for example, of ACTUAL , the Association for Culture and Tourism in Latin America. Present in 22 countries, the entity will celebrate its third International Congress (in virtual format) on February 26 and 27.
I am very grateful to have been invited by the organization to speak at the event. And I can only congratulate you for having found the best title imaginable: “Willing and Prepared – Restarting the dynamics of tourism”. I would say that ACTUAL already lives between two stories: that of the horrible present and that of the hopeful tomorrow. And this is where I will focus.
The next “first” tourist
My respected Ignacio Magos , a Mexican specialist in tourism branding, and a member of ACTUAL, asked me to prepare a talk on digital marketing. I know little about networks, but I do know about the stories that are consumed there. So I proposed a challenging title: “What story will convince the first international tourist to visit Mexico? And Nacho accepted. Of course, “that everyone can think of the name of the countries they want,” he said.
The question starts from three assumptions. First: we will beat COVID and tourism will recover. Second: the recovery will be gradual. Third: today we can tell the first (brave) tourist who will take the plane to visit us. And that is the big question: how to find out what we can say to him? What story can we use ?; What does persuasive storytelling say to that challenge?
Methods to anticipate the story
Months ago I spoke about the strategic scenarios and the user persona methodology. I was left to say that, in addition to these methods, together with my partners Mario Álvarez and Francesc Ponsa Herrera we use behavior assessment models that are increasingly being combined with social media. With these tools we try to anticipate what we must tell a person today so that they will be our client tomorrow.
There are various models. The OCEAN and the DISC are the best known. The latter predicts that there are four possible personality styles: Dominant , Influential , Stable, and Conscientious . Each one with specific, scientifically validated behaviors that help us understand how they will adapt and react to change. Suppose that change is the end of the pandemic and the reopening of world tourism.
Before the pandemic, companies like Booking.com directed segmented (and simultaneous) communication to each of the four styles. To each, his message. Surely after the pandemic many more will want to do so.
The four profiles
Whether they are men or women, young people or seniors , they come alone or accompanied or whatever the country they come from, the DISC model studies how each one perceives reality. People can be extroverted or introverted, but not both at the same time. Likewise, they can be oriented towards the achievement of objectives or towards the preservation of relationships with others, but not both at the same time. Combining these variables, the following profiles are obtained:
The Dominant : outgoing and goal-oriented person. He is known for being energetic, fast moving and making decisions, optimistic and not afraid of change. His great fears are that others will lose respect for him or that he will waste time. Statistically, it is the least frequent group.
The Influencer : also extroverted, but oriented to cultivate relationships with others. He is the typical seducer of the group, who is aware of all the news and who shares them first with the others. Optimistic without fear of change. His great fear is being irrelevant to others. When you feel socially ignored, you feel sad.
The Stable: introverted person (not shy). Reflect and think aloud very often. She cares a lot about how her trusted people see her and staying connected with them. Always aspire to preserve your status quo , whatever it may be. It is the profile most reluctant to change. To decide to travel, you need people you trust to recommend (and demonstrate) that travel is safe and beneficial.
The Conscientious : introverted and goal-oriented person. Perfectionist. Read all the instructions in the leaflet from top to bottom. Supports one job at a time. He takes time to make up his mind, but he does so for reasons more rational than emotional. You feel self-confident and what you fear most is the feeling of losing control of the situation.
Those profiles exist and are among your clients. Now: what story do you have to tell each one? And how do you know which one applies to each one? I share two keys with you.
First : have a virtual coffee with your clients
Whether you represent a hotel, or a travel agency, search your client history. You will surely find some with whom you developed more confidence. Contact them even if they live abroad and invite them to chat via videoconference: many will appreciate it.
Then ask them about various topics. For example, about your services: what things caused them concern the first time they came to your resort ? What things did they like to do the most ?; In what things did you exceed their expectations ?; When and why was there any disappointment? Ask them if they are one of those who prefer to meet objectives (visit, activities, tasks …) on vacation or are rather the relaxed (who do not look at their schedule on vacation). Find out their way of relating to people: do they like to meet new people? Do you prefer to enjoy the privacy of a good read?
Facebook does all this by counting the “Likes” of its users. But you are not Facebook. So you should have a frank chat with them and take good note of what you learn. These questions and answers will give you clues to know if, among your historical clients, introverts or extroverts predominate; achievement-oriented or relationship-oriented.
Second: generate different accounts of the same story
Once you have profiled your clients, create content about everything you are doing today to receive them on their next vacation, no matter when they occur.
Very important: forget about creating a single message for everyone. At least you will want to prepare four versions of each story that you publish on your social networks, or in your newsletters , or in your press releases.
For example: are you reviewing the security protocols so that your hotel is risk-free? Well! Prepare four versions and publish them on consecutive days. You have to tell the Conscientious one in great detail, including the name of the disinfectant you will use. You have to tell the Influencer that everyone is already trying the service and that they like it, and challenge them not to be the last to come to try it. To the Dominant you will tell him that if he comes first he will be the most admired by all the others and, finally, to the Stable you will show him people credibly explaining that the experience at the hotel was extraordinarily safe.
The story is the same for everyone: your tourist offer. But the stories (or versions) to be explained are different. You must multiply your communication efforts by four, yes. But you will connect four times better with each of them.
Knowing if the first to come to your hotel is a Dominant, Influential, Stable, or Conscientious is irrelevant. The important thing is that there will be one of each type that will be the first. When you get him, don’t forget to give him arguments to attract others like him.