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Episode Info: Subscribe to The Destinationists on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or Google PodcastsIn the first of a series of special episodes aimed at travel marketers dealing with the fall-out from COVID-19, we speak to Rodney Payne, CEO of Destination Think, about what DMOs need to do to help their destination to recover – and succeed – in a changed travel landscape.Rodney, whose organisation has helped destinations from Copenhagen to Saskatchewan, said that rather than waiting for demand to reboot destination marketers needed to start planning now for a range of scenarios – including the possibility that once-eased restrictions may be tightened again.“I see a lot of optimism in many people I speak to around the world. I think a lot of people have decided to plan for a best case scenario and I'd strongly recommend against it. I think it's a high risk. … And I think it's really naïve to think that we won’t be radically changed in some ways or many ways as a result of what's going on.”Co-host Lauren asked Rodney how he thought the travel consumer would change and he said it was risky to make generalisations given the fact that the impact of the pandemic – and the government response to it – has varied dramatically between different destinations.“We've been locked inside and many people are getting used to it, and other people will be really, really ecstatic to get outside. And everyone is going to approach this differently, and I think the most important advice is to recognize that things are going to be different and you're going to have to carefully do your homework all over again, understanding psychographics again, understanding people's emotional response to what's happened understanding how people's economic situation and economic confidence has changed about the future are all going to be really critical for people leading destinations and for people in charge of promoting destinations and managing destinations.”While acknowledging the human and financial cost of the pandemic, Rodney said that COVID-19 presented an opportunity for the travel industry to reshape its future. “[The three things I would change] would be that the entire local community benefits financially in return for trading their quality of life rather than just a sub sector that's often foreign owned. Two, the environment is actually improved through travel, and not only protected, but actually regenerated. And three, visitors add value to a place beyond just the money they bring. Depending on the place, they will each create their own definition of value.”Rodney said DMOs should be wary about moving too fast with promotion to attract visitors. “I personally believe that a destination marketing organisation that typically relies on public funds has an enormous responsibility to first and foremost protect human life and that includes in their communications. That's critical at this time to protect the local community, protect visitors. And there's a huge...
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