Marketing + PR

Balancing Marketing and Sensitivity

It’s a tough time to be in the travel industry, and an even tougher time to figure out the balance between marketing your air service and reassuring people about the steps you’re taking to mitigate the spread of viruses. Is it possible to promote summer travel to families and not appear that you have your head in the sand on the concerns people have about COVID-19?

The worst thing any airport marketing professional can do is stop everything. You might pause some of your marketing and advertising for a time, but then you need to step up your public relations to stay in front of your audience, reassure them, and provide helpful information so that you are almost viewed as a helpful friend. At the same time, behind the scenes, you should continue to plan marketing campaigns so that when things turnaround (and they will!) you are ready to go and don’t waste a second in getting things back up and running. In fact, it will be critical that you hit the ground running as soon as things turn around.

We’ve come up with several suggestions for internal and external communications, and a list of resources for factual information, tools and advice.

 

What should you say about COVID-19 and where should you say it?

  1. Start with a compassion statement that communicates that you understand the concerns people have regarding COVID-19 and air travel
  2. Share the steps your airport is taking to help prevent the spread of viruses to keep travelers safe, such as increased cleaning schedules.
    • Consider extra hand sanitizer stations, distributing branded personal-sized hand sanitizers, tissues, have masks available and add to the list of steps your airport is taking.
  3. Provide a statement on CDC recommendations regarding travel (this changes frequently so use this page as a resource: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html)
  4. Provide links to all airline Coronavirus travel update pages. A list of many airline pages is in the sidebar of this page.
  5. Post on all of your social media pages; your website (alerts, homepage, travel update landing page, media page, etc.)
  6. Consider a news release that includes everything above.

Now the hard part, finding the balance between marketing air travel and promoting caution around COVID-19.

You might want to consider pulling paid search and display advertising until later in the year and then reassess. The concern with these types of digital advertising is that you don’t have a lot of room for messaging and could appear uncaring and uninformed to some people who are very concerned about catching Coronavirus.

Focus your messages on:

  • What’s open? Status of bars and restaurants, rental car and shared ride services, FBO
  • Share travel-related COVID-19 updates and information
  • Share airline updates

While you’re slowing your advertising efforts (but don’t forget to step up the public relations efforts!), you don’t want to stop planning for the ramp up you’ll need to make when things come back to normal. Learn more about creating your recovery plan here.