COVID-19 Insights from MMGY Global and Miles Partnership

schedule 3 min read calendar_today
<span>COVID-19 Insights from MMGY Global and Miles Partnership</span>

By Andreas Weissenborn and Chelsea Welter

Destinations International’s COVID-19 Update Webinar on March 25, 2020 featured Andreas Weissenborn, who shared results of surveys that Destinations International has been conducting, as well as Jessica Schultz and Chris Davidson of MMGY Global, and Laura Libby and Nate Huff of Miles Partnership.

Key Takeaways from Destination International

Destinations International has been surveying members about the impact of the pandemic on their operations. These surveys reveal that across the board, destination organizations are expecting cuts in the immediate future to their operating budgets—half are expecting a cut between 20-50% of their budget. Organizations are moving forward with immediate reductions to both program and personnel costs.

Organizations are reporting the following six challenges:

  1. Finding reliable information about the pandemic, its implications for the industry, and official guidance for how organizations should react.
  2. Being a trusted conduit of information for stakeholders including travelers, residents, meeting planners, partners, members, and staff.
  3. Continuing to offer core services and continuing business operations in a safe manner. 
  4. Cutting costs in anticipation of steep budget cuts. 
  5. Providing resources to local businesses that are forced to close and to local workers who may lose jobs.
  6. Understanding how—and when—to begin recovery planning. 

Key Takeaways from MMGY Global

MMGY Global has conducted two rounds of research during the month of March (March 9th and March 23rd) to measure the projected impact of COVID19 on local tourism economies. They will continue to distribute the survey every two weeks adjusting the survey itself as needed. These surveys reveal:

  • The percentage of destinations reporting cancellations/postponements due to COVID19 rose from 40% to 100%
  • Between the first and second surveys, the projected impact COVID19 might have on local tourism rose from 8% to 79% in terms of having an extreme impact.
  • 1 in 3 destinations are fielding more than 20 questions daily regarding COVID19 – most related to cancelled events, meetings, and attraction closures
  • Fewer than 30% of destinations had an emergency plan in place prior to COVID19, and nearly 50% of destinations emergency planning is being handled by local governments
  • The sharing of information is most critical piece right now. Although 80% have cut back on their sales and marketing spending, nearly 90% continue to share information with their partners, and nearly 80% post COVID19 information on their website and social media platforms.

MMGY makes the following recommendations for organizations trying to adjust their marketing strategies:

  • Watch for micro trends in data – including client visitation data, social listening, search trending, vendor trending and future forecasting by traveler type
  • Monitor trends weekly through search demand (watching the last 30 days), booking demand in terms of future stays and volume by traveler type and booking windows with changes in the market or book window lengths
  • Don’t throw out existing strategy, but pivot off the existing to reach people in the right mindsight based on current weekly trends
  • Continue to look forward. Your audience may now represent those most willing to travel again first, ensure media is where those individuals will spend the most of their time and keep it top of mind and adjust messaging as needed to align with the traveler’s needs.

Key Takeaways from Miles Parnership

Miles recommends the destination become the voice of logic and reasoning during this challenging time and help educate the stakeholders of their community. Utilize storytelling to help create value with partners, members, consumers and residents. We are all in this together, however, different destinations have different situations based on size, location, budget, etc. Ultimately, the role of marketer of the destination moves to the role of messenger of the destination. Destinations should use their own data to help contextualize their own strategy.

Five Phased Approach to Creating that Plan:

  • Monitor your own resources and analyze social sentiment
  • Measure stakeholder needs and changes to social engagement
  • Messaging that helps support local business and virtual experiences of attractions and create a content calendar where this information can easily be shared and experienced
  • Manage relationships with your residents, local business and travelers
  • Market focus should be on your own channels then broaden slowly and modify as needed

Keep Up to Date

This webinar is recorded and available online HERE

Destinations International is committed to keeping you up to date as COVID-19 continues to disrupt our industry. Join us for our weekly COVID-19 update webinar series, led by industry experts from around the world. Register here.