I can hear your outrage! You've spent time making sure you're "Good to Go" and Covid-secure and now I'm telling you that's not what you need to do?
Accreditation and reassurance schemes like "Good to Go" and "Safe, Clean, Legal" are definitely a good idea. They'll help you work out what you need to do to operate safely and reassure visitors.
It's definitely worthwhile participating in one of the schemes.
But once you've done that, how are you going to attract visitors and encourage them to return to you?
Visitors aren't asking about safety or cleanliness
I did a quick straw poll of tourism businesses yesterday to find out whether people are asking about cleaning or Covid-secure protocols when booking or making enquiries. 70% of businesses said they were not being asked about them at all, 25% said a few visitors were asking, and 5% said yes, all their prospective visitors had asked.
So what are visitors asking about? Cancellation and refund policies seem to be right at the top of the list of things visitors want to know.
What messages should you use to attract visitors, if 'safe' isn't the right selling point to use?
Have you noticed a flood of posts on social media, using the VisitEngland kite mark, "We're Good to Go"? It's great that so many businesses are participating and using the reassuring logo. It's natural to want to tell people you've successfully gone through the hoops.
But when there's a flood of similar posts on social media, you need to find an additional way to stand out.
Research has shown that visitors really want to have some fun, they want to escape the confines of their home, to meet up with family. They do want to know places will be clean but don't want an overly sanitised experience, or to feel like they're visiting a laboratory.
So make sure you stress your usual key selling points, then offer a reassuring safety message.
We know people want to know about cancellation policies and refunds so make sure that information is clearly available. Show prospective visitors what it will be like to visit you, with a short video walk-through. It doesn't have to be polished, just authentic and clear.
Tell visitors about the fun they can have in your area, what's open and what they'll be able to do when they visit. Show them how they can escape the daily grind, and offer inspirational ideas. Safety and cleanliness are important, but most visitors will see those as givens, so you need to stand out in other ways.
We keep talking about the 'new normal' and life is going to be different but humans are still humans and a strong emotional appeal is always important.
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Please note: all articles are copyrighted Susan Briggs