by Dan Ward
The pandemic has forced many of us to shift our thinking, priorities and way of life. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the tourism industry. As one of the many sectors of business that have taken a hard economic hit, travel and tourism leaders have been tasked with figuring out “what’s next?”
Tourism organizations all over the globe, such as Visit Orlando, have banded together to provide guests and loyal fans with virtual content and resources to entertain, engage and help navigate these months of uncertainty. In fact, the Orlando tourism association recently released its three-tier plan to not only restart the industry in Central Florida, but also draw tourists and businesses back to the area.
To celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week (May 3-9), I looked to our friend Susan L. Storey, APR, director of global communications for IAAPA – the global association for the attractions industry – to share perspective on the innovative steps her organization and others are taking to support and rebuild tourism around the globe.
During this crisis, many of your member organizations have been developing new ways to interact with guests. Have you seen any creative examples of this?
The attractions industry – central to tourism, especially here in Florida – has always been about creating connections and making memories. The industry has found creative ways to not only entertain and communicate with guests remotely, but to also remain part of everyday life. With schools being canceled, many attractions have focused on providing engaging, educational content. SeaWorld Orlando has made its classroom resources available to teachers and provided curriculum based on grade levels. Gatorland’s School of Croc takes place daily on Facebook Live and teaches viewers about the animals in its care. Even smaller attractions like Escapology Orlando have posted daily brain teasers and puzzles for all ages.
With locations closed, generating revenue is a tall order, but many in the industry have developed opportunities unique to our current situation. For example, through Wild Florida, a giraffe can join your Zoom call – a great way to engage your colleagues during a virtual meeting. Ticket deals and pre-sales also help locations generate needed revenue while also looking ahead, giving fans something to buy now and look forward to as attractions prepare to reopen.
What are some efforts your association has put in place to support the attractions industry through the dissemination of information?
As the global association for the attractions industry, IAAPA has been focused on keeping members connected. We created a COVID-19 resource section on our website that includes timely, relevant information to help members understand the global situation and how to respond. This site is updated daily and serves as a starting point for the industry as they navigate through this crisis.
We have also added many new connection points to bring members together. Weekly Facebook Live events with industry thought leaders, global and regional IAAPA webinars, Twitter chats and original content about core topics affecting tourism are just a few key examples of how we continue to serve the attractions industry.
What will tourism look like in a post-pandemic world? How will we adapt to a new normal?
People love to explore new places and try new things. The attractions industry is a critical part of that equation. We know some things will be forever changed in the wake of the coronavirus situation. While we will see changes in how things are done, the overall passion for serving our guests and providing safe, fun experiences to all never will.