Events and destinations: a post-COVID tonic to Social Isolation

The COVID pandemic has brought wholesale changes to the way we live and work. In the coming months, we’ll see a gradual lifting of safety restrictions. As businesses and public spaces begin to reopen, it’s difficult to predict how people will respond.

When will people again feel comfortable attending attractions, destinations and events? Confidence will rise once a vaccine is readily available but in the short term, some types of attractions might have an easier time than others in re-engaging the public.

Outdoor events and destinations have a strong opportunity to welcome visits from the public. After months of hunkering at home, outdoor activities will be high on the list of priorities for many. Lingering uncertainty about foreign travel means that Canadians will likely seek out local getaway destinations.

Now is the time for Canadian tourism associations to prepare tactics and messaging to communicate the value and ease of an outdoor or rural experience. Successful marketing initiatives will achieve a combination of these strategies:

  • Address practical safety concerns about social distancing;
  • Communicate the experience in a way that instills public confidence;
  • Convey the emotional reward of spending time outdoors with your family: an antidote to our current COVID reality of isolating at home.

Marketers will need to understand the emotional state of the public and directly address their concerns. Clear and factual information should be communicated: cleaning protocols for public washrooms, for example.

Messaging can instill confidence in a non-overt way. Marketing visuals and copy that portray the experience as an escape to Ontario’s wide-open spaces will help to dispel social distancing concerns.

Destinations can entice visitors with the range of available activities including hiking and swimming – and focus on the personal rewards that these experiences provide.

Ultimately, in order to compel consumers, the reward of the experience must outweigh the perceived risk that the public are sure to feel.

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