Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) one of the apex bodies in Global Tourism, teamed up with GIZ to organize a virtual training program via Zoom for Sri Lanka Tourism on four days including 12, 13, 24 and 25 November 2020.
Sri Lanka’s long standing proud membership induced PATA’s collaboration with GIZ to sponsor two global experts Tourism Crisis Management Expert John Bailey and Global Tourism Marketing Guru Damian Cook, in training Sri Lanka’s Tourism’s key personnel from Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Sri Lank Tourism Promotion Bureau, Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management and Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, entirely free of charge.
John Bailey’s crisis and reputation management experience for global companies, spans 25 years and has trained professionals for 100 clients in 50 countries, including 60 airlines and major global hotel groups. He managed IATA’s Crisis Communications consultancy in Geneva and built the largest privately held PR agency in Singapore prior to his ascent in Global Communications.
PATA expert Damian Cook, CEO of E-Tourism Frontiers, a global initiative, develops Online Tourism in Emerging Markets, such as E-Tourism Africa initiative, which trained hundreds of tourism professionals across Africa, collaborating with International experts and major travel firms to do business in Africa. He made presentations at leading global summits in Tunis, Berlin, US, and also in China, Japan and Thailand.
COVID-19 is viewed as an Existential Crisis that will not end soon and neither does it have a defined ending. In such an environment Tourism Sector has effectively shut down. The training focused on the importance of keeping the tourism industry afloat in critical times, being proactive as a Destination, igniting traveller interests through innovation, while being prepared for new oncoming challenges.
The experts pinpointed four key messages highlighting the development of a 3-phase plan for recovery targeting new market, focusing on sustainability partnering trade, creating P2P models that identify markets and channels and being aware of changing trends and markets establishing a future proof approach.
Travel will fundamentally change, with the 2019 strategy being redundant in 2020, as every Destination is now literally a Start Up. Yet, airlines, tour operators and visitors will prioritize Destinations who have a plan in place before recovery.
Considering key digital trends lending obsolete the desktop versions of websites, pushing mobile to the fore, Social becoming the new normal decreasing search validity, Email being replaced by Messaging and Emotional destination messages showing power over rational messages, all setting the new standards to consider when planning Destination Marketing.
The identification of Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of the destination is key and Sri Lanka Tourism needs to focus on experiences-based tourism activities, giving increased attention in the niche segments of tourism. Recognizing the key money-making activities as a destination such as Accommodation, Food and Beverage, Shopping and Experiences is important.
According to the experts, visitors to Sri Lanka are the best marketing agency we can have and we need user-generated content and use actual tourists as marketing ambassadors. This will give destination a no cost advertising which would enhance the word of mouth impact. Identification of key platforms of advertising campaigns such as Social Media, Websites, Search Engines, Booking sites and focus on the creative ideas for the communication content is the way to go, they reiterated.
Becoming a Credible Source of Information is critical for Sri Lanka Tourism and the real driver behind this change is digital. Sri Lanka Tourism will infuse these new knowledge and learning into the strategy making fabric in the new normal.
Also Sri Lanka Tourism would like to extend these knowledge sharing sessions to the tourism industry thus invites all Tourism Industry stakeholders to participate in a Tourism Webinar on 11th December 2020, to share new knowledge with PATA’s global tourism experts John Bailey and Damian Cook, together with Dr. Chandralal from Sri Jayawardenepura University, who will present his Destination Image based Marketing Research on Sri Lanka. Ms. Kimarli Fernando, Chairperson Sri Lanka Tourism will also contribute at the webinar which will be moderated by Mr. Dileep Mudadeniya, Vice president Marketing and Events, Cinnamon hotels and Resorts and Head of Corporate Affairs – John Keells PLC. Sri Lanka Tourism invites interested industry stakeholders and public to take part in this knowledge sharing session by registering through srilanka.travel/webinar.