KANSAS CITY, Mo. — MMGY Travel Intelligence, in partnership with Destinations International Foundation, has released the findings from the fourth wave of a series of bi-weekly tracking surveys of North American destination professionals. The survey, which assesses how organizations in this sector are impacted by and reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic, revealed that over the last two weeks, respondents’ outlook on their local tourism economies has started to improve.
The percentage of destination professionals who expect their local economy to worsen fell from 72 percent in Wave III of the survey to 41 percent in Wave IV, indicating expectations are starting to stabilize. A small but growing percentage of respondents (14 percent) even expect their local tourism economy to show improvement in the next 30 days. This is up from just 2 percent of respondents in Wave III.
“Many organizations are now starting to proactively plan their shift from informational communications campaigns to promotional ones in the next 60 days,” said Chris Davidson, executive vice president of insights and strategy at MMGY Global. “But there won’t be one moment where it all turns back on for everyone. Cities, even within the same state, may be on totally different time tables and with differing restrictions and protocols.”
Destination organizations continue to focus their current marketing activities towards prospective travelers via informational emails and social media, and through public relations efforts. When organizations make the shift from informational campaigns to promotional ones, email campaigns will likely be at the forefront of communications. Seventy-three percent of respondents indicated they expect to employ this channel within the next two months, up from 62 percent in Wave III.
Crisis communications remain an important effort for most in the sector, as 76 percent of respondents report currently investing in this area. This is projected to decline rapidly in the next 60 days, with the percentage of destination organizations expecting to use crisis communications messaging two months from now falling to 46 percent.
“We believe this data represents the differing positions destinations find themselves in at this stage of the crisis and the uncertainty of how the coronavirus will affect destinations in the future. The responses also show the importance of crisis communications and having a strategy that supports various challenging events,” said Jack Johnson, chief advocacy officer for Destinations International.
This survey was conducted among employees of destination organizations representing U.S. cities, regions, and states. Wave III of the survey was conducted March 30-April 6, 2020, and Wave IV was conducted April 17-23, 2020. This study does not include U.S. consumers.