Whilst all paid for media campaigns have been paused during this lockdown phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is still an important role for the marketing teams to play to ensure that Scotland is kept top of mind with our potential visitors, and that we’re in a strong position to recover quickly once the situation eases.
Although we don’t currently know when we’ll be able to welcome visitors to Scotland again, we can break down our activity into different phases. Each phase will see different types of activity from the different teams – and activity is either underway, or in planning.
Recovery will require a national collaborative effort and in the coming weeks we will ensure that we share our thinking on future phases to ensure we get input from right across the visitor economy. In the meantime we will continue to share market and consumer insight so that we are all fully informed.
A phased approach to planning and activity
Whilst it is not possible to put specific timelines on when we’ll be able to welcome visitors again, there are distinct phases for which we’re able to plan different activity.
All non-essential travel is banned. Objective to keep yourself and Scotland safe. Messaging to dream now, travel later.
Non-essential travel ban still in place. Objective to keep Scotland top of mind and to build advocacy and trust. Messaging of 'Only in Scotland' alongside dream now, travel later.
Assumes there are still broader travel restrictions in place, but local restrictions have been lifted (but cognisant that there may be tighter restrictions imposed at any time). Objective to reconnect Scots with Scotland. Messaging of 'Only in Scotland', while encouraging Scots to take day trips, UK visitors to start planning short breaks and continuing inspirational content for international visitors.
A. Domestic Movement
Assumes international travel restrictions are still in place but UK wide travel restrictions have been lifted. Objective to increase demand for short-notice holidays to Scotland. Messaging of 'Only in Scotland', while encouraging UK visitors to book short breaks and international visitors to start planning their Scotland holidays.
B. International Movement
Markets opening up again, and international travel intent and consumer confidence growing. Messaging of 'Only in Scotland', while encouraging people to book their holidays to Scotland.
As restrictions on travel meant we were no longer able to welcome visitors, we created a brand new film to encourage people to share their love and memories of Scotland. In the first two weeks, it was viewed over 1 million times.
Current marketing activity
Knowledge is vital to making informed decisions, and ensuring we’re in the best position to recover quickly when the time is right. Teams across VisitScotland have access to different sources of information, including macro trends and horizon scanning reports; networks of NTOs and DMOs; papers and insights from our in-market agencies and contacts; direct relationships with inmarket intermediaries such as tour operators, agents and OTAs; plus data and insights from our owned channels including search trends, website visits and social monitoring. We are curating all this information for you on a weekly basis, see the latest report on the monitoring the impact of COVID-19 page.
We are continuing to connect with our followers and fans around the world during this time, sharing Scotland virtually while encouraging people to stay safe and stay home. Our contact strategy will evolve as travel restrictions are eased, to reflect the phase of planning and activity we are in.
In Relationship Marketing, it’s important to genuinely connect with people and present an authentic picture of Scotland and never more so than in these uncertain times. To get priorities right we need to listen constantly, keeping communication and content under review, with dream now, travel later messaging.
The PR team have been working across markets to pitch stories to media contacts, many of whom are still hungry for appropriate content. We are also gathering media insights across all key markets to best inform recovery approach. The PR team's close media relationships have been invaluable for these activities.
People are consuming more content than ever, with more time at home browsing the internet for news, current trends, and inspirational stories. The Content Team, in collaboration with teams across VisitScotland, has been working to develop suitable content ideas to support your business and to inspire future visitors.
Our intermediary marketing activity includes destination inspiration and training, product development and intelligence gathering. Working with our key accounts across tour operators, travel agents, destination management companies and online travel agents in our key markets, the teams are keeping in close contact during the current situation, to help people get ready to sell Scotland again as soon as possible.