NEW ORLEANS, La. – Crisis communication plans are at the bottom of most destination marketers’ to-do list, but the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the tourism industry’s focus. Readiness for such incidents is why Bandwagon, a destination marketing firm, has been awarded two Marcom Awards for destination crisis planning and research projects during the pandemic.
“No one wants to think about worst case scenario,” said Cory Cart, APR, Bandwagon’s chief client officer. “Behind every crisis statistic, such as the current pandemic, is a person needing assurance by destination leaders that their best interests matter to decision makers. You simply can’t avoid planning for the worst if you want to maintain a connection with visitors.”
Crises affecting destinations include natural disasters and man-made incidents. Economic recessions, pandemics, and cultural movements impact the vitality of the tourism industry.
Bandwagon notes a common misconception for tourism crisis communication strategies is managing it like a municipal crisis. Visitors may not understand safety protocols for earthquakes, hurricanes, or tornadoes because these could be uncommon where they live. To prevent panic and create a sense of empathy, you must reach beyond standard municipal emergency information systems and reach visitors in their hotels, vacation rentals or other lodging sites.
Bandwagon minimizes economic impacts and protects brand sentiment with proactive destination crisis communication planning focused on tourism related audiences.
“Comprehensive tourism crisis communication plans outline every audience impacted by an incident,” said Boone Clemmons, Bandwagon’s chief strategy officer. “Audiences include local industry stakeholders, visitors in the booking phase, visitors in the destination at the time of the incident, meeting and event planners, hospitality workers and more.”
When drafting a crisis plan, Bandwagon’s in-house research department completes a comprehensive analysis of visitor data. This allows for full understanding of each audience segment to develop proper messaging and response strategies.
“We do not take a one-message-fits-all approach when crafting crisis communication response strategies,” said Clemmons. “Using diversified data sources, we segment visitors and the area’s tourism industry with an explanation of how they consume emergency information.”
The travel industry is frequently impacted by crises. The Bandwagon team’s collective experience runs deep when assisting tourism industry leaders and popular destinations navigate crises such as recessions, natural disasters, public health threats and safety concerns. Their services have been used by destinations and tourism leaders in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Florida, and more.
Last week, Bandwagon was named the recipient of two Platinum Awards as part of the 2020 Marcom Awards program. One for a destination crisis plan due to the impact of COVID-19, and the second for a brand impact study conducted for a destination as the result of a crisis.
Based in New Orleans, Bandwagon is a full-service destination marketing firm offering services in tourism research, destination marketing, travel PR and destination crisis communication. To learn more about their services, visit their website www.yourbandwagon.com.