Marketing insights on the tourism industry for 2021

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Pivot your marketing and flip the narrative.

Pivot your marketing and flip the narrative.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the tourism industry took a major hit due to the restrictions imposed on travel. As a small country in the Mediterranean with an economy mainly based on foreign traffic, the repercussions on tourism were dramatic.

This decline rippled through all sectors, especially the hospitality industry. The National Statistics Office’s data shows that the number of tourists in the peak summer months dropped by 77% whereas total expenditure went down by 81%.  

Our airport saw the lowest numbers of passengers ever, and even days with no flights at all. As Malta International Airport CEO Alan Borg puts it:

“2020 brought to an end a decade of traffic growth for Malta International Airport and the wider aviation industry. It was a decade during which we had become accustomed to travelling several times a year with a certain ease. This pandemic has led many of us to appreciate anew the importance of air travel as an enabler of social, cultural and economic activity. This is why all stakeholders need to align their efforts in order for our industry to be able to start its journey of recovery, and once again enable this important activity.”

As 2021 rolls on and the vaccine starts making its rounds, it’s time to look forward with hope and prepare ourselves for better months ahead. Businesses, especially within the aviation sector, are looking into ways to leverage the new vaccine to start operating towards normality.

COVID-19 vaccine ‘passports’ shed a light at the end of this uncertain tunnel with the possibility of people travelling on evidence of their immunity, even though this brings about its own debates. 

It’s not a secret that companies of all types have started to digitise their businesses in order to maximise their audience reach. However, it’s not just about going digital, but also about maintaining your presence whilst standing out from the crowd.

The everyday consumer has become wary of person-to-person interaction and is comfortable keeping his/her distance while using technology to bridge the gap. Furthermore, the pandemic damaged consumer spending to the point where people are mindful of how they part with their hard-earned cash.

For example, by choosing low-cost brands over established ones, consuming less alcohol, opting for DIY home improvements rather than contracting a professional, travelling locally rather than onboard a long-haul flight. 

Consumers are in the driving seat.  So how do you pivot your business strategy and marketing in this new world, especially when your survival is dependant on tourism?

We need to go back to cultivating and strengthening customer relationships, and we can do so by keeping in mind the below factors. 


All we hear nowadays is how we need to be safe for ourselves and others. It’s become an important term over the last year, which is why it’s no surprise that it’s the first thing on your consumers’ minds when considering who to do business with.

Your business needs to ensure that all safety measures are being adhered to with the purpose of gaining your audiences’ trust. If you provide reassurance then consumers are more likely to do business with you over your competitors. 

Communication is key and this is where strong content marketing comes into play. To get the customer through the front door, first, they need to perceive safety through your customer touch-points: website and social channels.

The trick is clear and direct messaging targeted at your specific audiences. They may be diverse, of different generations and require distinct needs, so it’s vital that the messaging is tailored to each audience.

Once consumers are engaged and feel reassured that safety is as important to you as it is to them, then they are more willing to make a physical appearance as long as your perceived safety is translated into reality. 

Brand Capital & Value

Quality over quantity”, an overused expression for many, especially in sales. However, in 2021 those brands that will stand for quality will win.

Over the last 4 years with Trumpism and COVID-19, people have been constantly flooded with bad news, some even fake, and it’s become quite tiresome overall. It’s time to flip that narrative. Let your brand be the one who instils certainty in their consumers and lets them assume control.

Brand Capital (or Brand Equity) is the value of customers' perceptions of your brand and building on this is key to survive in this new world. “Good value for good money” will be the new mantra and by being transparent and positive, your brand will get the recognition it deserves. 

It’s time to revaluate your brand strategy and shift towards a marketing plan which focuses on customer engagement and sentiment.

When it comes to your brand strategy, you have to ask yourself, is the brand’s purpose still relevant during this crisis and are we keeping to our promise? Or do we need to reposition ourselves to be more customer-centric and human?

Once you re-evaluate your framework and have a good foundation, you can start focusing on building your brand capital. 

Here are 3 ways:

  • Brand Awareness - you need to get your brand out there, wherever your target audience is. Effective messaging and consistent visuals are the keys to getting your brand noticed and remembered by your consumers. You speak their language and are not trying to sell them anything, but rather telling them you’re still there and can’t wait to welcome them back. So whether you’re in the aviation business, a hotel or an experience provider, make sure your audience knows you miss them. 
  • Brand Compliance - Consistency is key. Having one unique identity implemented homogeneously throughout the market would help grow trust in your brand and as a result, gain brand loyalty. This is achieved through relevant campaign work and an active social media presence. 
  • Brand Loyalty - Take care of those who take care of you. Returning customers are the most valuable assets to your brand because they’re ultimately your brand advocates. People tend to listen to and follow their friends’ and family’s advice on who to do business with more than any other form of marketing tool. Word of mouth may be the oldest trick in the book but it’s still the most effective. Hence the rise in Influencer Marketing, or Content Creator Marketing, and User Generated Content (UGC). You’ll be putting the consumer in the driving seat, or focal point of your marketing. 

For example, a hotel should be reaching out to previous guests updating them on timeline as well as COVID measures of both the hotel’s and the visitor’s countries, and advising them on when they expect their doors to be open and for tourism to kickstart. 

The behavioural shift that the COVID-19 crisis brought about, presents a serious challenge for the tourism industry. However, smooth seas do not make skilful sailors and now more than ever, businesses need to be present with their marketing and shift their focus on the customer.

In 2021, people are looking to rejuvenate and recharge so take the opportunity to take the above key factors to be that brand people want to be associated with and boast about. 

Do you have a content marketing strategy in place? And is your brand human-centric enough? Get in touch and let us help you be 2021-ready.