Coronavirus: Social media communication in travel and tourism industry


Social media during coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has now touched nearly every aspect of our lives in 2020. If just a year ago we were told the whole world was going to stop for a few months and be in lockdown, we probably wouldn’t believe this scenario. Even though the information about the COVID-19 virus from China spread throughout the news and social media, most people didn’t think it would affect our everyday life as it did. Everything stopped almost overnight – or at least it feels that way.

However, we show our true colors during times of hardship. That is why it’s more than ever important for brands to practice mindfulness and awareness when shaping their messages. It is crucial for them to use their social media platforms for the benefit of people, and not for making profits. Unfortunately, many brands did the exact opposite: they stopped communicating altogether. Not just on social media, but everywhere. They weren’t prepared for this kind of crisis, but then again – very few were. Still, some brands adapted quickly, while others had a hard time addressing the elephant in the room. 

How has social media changed?

Even though restrictions were quite different in each country (take Sweden, for example), most of the world agreed the best way to prevent the spread of the virus is to maintain social distance. In the face of lockdown and being around people as little as possible, social media was a great way for individuals and communities to stay connected even while physically separated. A lot of companies experienced remote work and work-from-home situations. While some were quite pleased with such conditions, others were anxious and eager for the world to go back to (new) normal. 

Being home all day naturally increases media consumption, whether it’s streaming shows or finding connections across social platforms. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, and Reddit have all reported a significant growth in engagement. However, it’s interesting that (according to eMarketer), the coronavirus has caused many advertisers to hold back campaigns, adjust their media allocation, pause on all advertising efforts, and even cancel campaigns entirely. So, while social media users on platforms are consuming more than ever, the brands are advertising less – do you see what’s wrong here?

3 key social media changes to make in a coronavirus world

For businesses, the COVID-19 crisis was hard for communication. Even those companies that have well-established marketing and communication departments were confused about how to adapt to this new situation. Everyone had to take a step back, examine the situation, and take new approaches. This meant leveraging social media to support employees and customers like never before. 

Companies in the travel and tourism industries were among those that were hit the most. By being in lockdown and with restrictions for travel among countries, many people were out of work for weeks. Still, some found a way to stay on top with their social media communication. In return, they received much positive feedback from the general public. 

Allow me to give you 3 key changes to make in a coronavirus world and show you examples of travel and tourism brands how it should be done. 

Hit pause and review

Re-evaluate your content weekly, but be prepared to change it daily.  You need to sure you continue to check any pre-scheduled posts or previously set up automated messages before they go out. Even with some countries reopening and loosening their restrictions, many things could still seem insensitive to your employers and customers. That’s why you should review social media posts so you can remove or rewrite content that sounds tone-deaf.




“New normal” applies even on social media

Make sure your messages and visuals are in context with the „new normal”. This term became extremely popular during the lockdown beginning.  Many people predicting the future will never look the same. With the uncertainty of what the future holds for us, many people think life will never be as it was before the coronavirus. That’s why “new normal” describes the world post lockdown with many changes, due to new regulations. 

This also applies to social media communication as well. While we were all still practicing #StayHome and social distancing measures, the brands had the responsibility towards their customers to inspire and urge them to do the same. That means incorporating this message into your brand’s communication on social media. With emotions high, it’s more important than ever to put extra thought into what messages you share with your customers. During social distancing, it was important to urge people not to go outside or invite them to do any outdoor activities – even if your core business is, for example, selling outdoor gear. It was up to brands to show the value they can provide for people while the pandemic was at its high.




Plan for the long game

Unfortunately, many businesses first turn to the marketing departments when it’s time to trim the budget. Instead, it should be the last place to remove the funding. Maybe people don’t want to (or cannot) buy from you right now, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want inspiration and education. Work on your awareness so you can use it later when the pandemic or some other crisis is over. Completely shutting down all marketing efforts will get you nowhere. It can seem hard to overcome a crisis like this, especially if you live from sales, but marketing affects sales. That means you should focus on making the most of marketing, even if you can’t currently make any significant sales because of the pandemic.

Think of the airline companies: they lost MILLIONS due to the travel ban, but that doesn’t mean they stopped communicating. Their marketing efforts simply focused more on showing to their customers what they are doing during these hard times, measures of precaution, throwbacks to days when people were still traveling to inspire them of possible destinations when all of this is over, etc.

It’s not easy, but it’s better than stopping with marketing altogether. Focus on helping and inspiring, not selling. Plan for the long game and build your relationship with customers. Create even better brand awareness and explore new ways to present your products or services.


Social media during coronavirus – Overview

To conclude:

  • Don’t completely halt your social media posts and advertising
  • Review the posts and publish with purpose
  • Show what value you can provide for people
  • Focus on helping and inspiring, not selling
  • Work on building your awareness among target audiences.