Getting Scrappy: 5 simple things you can do right now to help a destination through crisis
You can listen directly here.
The Travel and Tourism industry needs to come even closer together than ever before. We are stronger together. We know this time will pass and people will want to travel again.
This episode isn't about being perfect. It is about ensuring we are staying true to who we are, being visible to clients and the end consumer. It's time to get SCRAPPY. Progress is better than perfection in times of crisis. Don't let this opportunity pass.
Now is the time to support each other even more, take care of one another and come out even stronger.
Use this time to update your skills. Learn new things, become a specialist or broaden your offering. Share good news stories and come together with those that will also support you on the other side.
This podcast is for those in the destination space and also for travel agents. Christina Lenkowski, our guest today is a specialist in Tourism Marketing and Public Relations. She educates busy tourism marketers the most effective ways to build a solid marketing and public relations program regardless of budget or time constraints. Christina Lenkowski
For travel agents and destinations, now is the opportunity to be on top of mind when things shift. People will travel again.
Make sure you stay up to date with the podcast by subscribing and downloading our free resources and checklists to help you with your travel business. https://travelagentachievers.com/ If you need additional help then check out my limited offer for personalised one on one coaching sessions.
Links Mentioned in the Episode
Visit our website - Travel Agent Achievers Website
Quotes from this Episode
"There are opportunities out there, we just have to be getting a little more creative"
"People will start travelling again, they are not going to be stuck inside forever"
"This world is way too beautiful to stop exploring"
"When times get tough, a lot of people get tougher"
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Announcer: Welcome to Travel Agent Achievers! The place to learn how to grow your travel business and have fun with it. Join Roslyn and her guests as they walk you through proven steps to a fulfilling and profitable business.
Ros: Hey guys, welcome back to Travel Agent Achievers podcast. This is a very special episode with a very good friend of mine, Christina Lenkowski. Today we are talking about public relations, destination marketing, travel agents and how we can all work together to come through this crazy time that we're in right now.
I wanted to say thank you for listening and reaching out to us and letting us know that you're there, make sure that you subscribe to the podcast, and check out the free resources that we are going to provide for you. These will be on our episode website page so check it out - travelagentachievers.com. We'll have links to all the show notes and details at the bottom of this podcast as well. So make sure you check it out.
So, I'd love to introduce my very good friend Christina Lenkowski. She and I met a few years ago and Christina, if you have any crazy stories, you are more than welcome to share.
We have a love of tourism and the hospitality industries. We met at a conference a couple of years ago over in San Diego and have spent the last two plus years now talking about how we can work together and this episode we've been speaking about forever since we first met, and we're going to get it done now.
It's about helping travel agents, as well as destinations come together at a time like this and the things that you can do to help promote your businesses, your destinations and have travel agents have your back and travel agents also be at the forefront to help promote your destination in the future.
Christina, welcome to Travel Agent Achievers. I love that you're from Boise as well in the US and I'm in Sydney, Australia and I love your accent. Can I just say but I also love, I also love the Scrappy MF wine that still sits on my desk.
Christina: Oh, I have one on my desk too. So for people that are unaware, there is a winery in Boise where I live called Coil and they have a wine called Scrappy MF. And I think we all understand what MF stands for.
But that is something that Ros and I definitely are both and so every time we meet up for a conference or anything like that, I always bring a bottle of it with me and we all enjoy it. We have another friend Allison that we did go to events with, Alison Boyle, we love her. And so anyways, we each have, I also have an empty bottle of Scrappy MF on my desk that I look at and I think about Ros and Alison.
And, you know, right now we're all having to be extra scrappy. And so everyone listening to this podcast is a scrappy MF right now.
Christina: Crazy. And so yeah, that's Ros and I. I loveRoslyn and I'm just excited to, you know, talk a little bit about my expertise and how I might be able to help out some destinations.
Ros: Thank you.
So Christina, for our listeners, because they don't know who you are. Can you give us a little bit of your background and what you do?
Christina: Absolutely. So I came up in the destination PR, destination marketing world. I grew up in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, before it became world famous for Pinot Noir.
So I saw the difference that tourism could make in a region you know, I grew up when this area was just farmland. There wasn't really anything particularly special about it. And I saw what having this one thing, Pinot Noir and becoming world famous for that has completely changed the area that I grew up in for the better. Much better houses, schools, roads, everything because of this money that tourism has brought in.
So after college, for a year or so, I came back home and I had my first job at a PR agency. And I started working with a tourism destination and it just kind of went from there.
So I worked for agencies, some different ones for over 10 years before I had my daughter. And once I had my daughter Beatrice about five years ago, I decided to go off on my own. And so I essentially help destinations learn how to do their own public relations and media outreach.
And so when I say destination, sometimes people don't quite understand what that means. And what it means for me is cities, regions, states, people that are looking to bring more visitors to their town.
I also help accommodation, so hotels and things like that, as well as attractions. So you know, theme parks or things like that, that are looking to bring people in. Anything that's kind of in that tourism world.
But when I say destination, that is what I mean. Kind of typically a region, area city, something like that. And, you know, I just saw this huge gap of people that wanted to be doing PR regions that wanted to be doing PR, but they couldn't afford an agency.
So I created a course, I created a membership. I have all these things to kind of help people bridge that gap so that they can do media outreach, because it's crazy important.
Ros: So, Public Relations and getting media coverage for a destination, whether it's a city or state, particular experience - this is your niche and your specialty and I love that you have created an online course.
So this allows those destinations and companies that are smaller or don't have the budget, as you say, to engage with a large agency, they can actually do it themselves.
So in order to do your own PR, what sort of timeframe does it take? Because I would think that I'd need to engage somebody else or an expert to do this. Like, is it possible that people can do their own PR?
Christina: So this is the big thing, this is actually the reason why I did this course is I wanted it to be realistic for people to be able to do it themselves. So when I created the course I spoke with a bunch of destination marketers and got there you know, thoughts and opinions about it and what they thought would be a realistic time that they would be able to spend.
And the thing that people kind of felt was realistic was two hours a week. So that is how my course is built, it is built to make it so the destinations can do PR in two hours a week. And really anyone at the destination can do it.
It doesn't have to be the director, or the marketing director or things like that. It can be other people or maybe even a really great volunteer or a board member that they might have can take it on because I'm literally teaching it from the ground up.
So it's something for beginners, you know, you don't have to be super knowledgeable about media or anything like that, to be able to start doing your own PR and start doing your own pitching.
Once people see what really goes into it, I think they feel much more comfortable. It's just kind of like that for decades, right? It's been under this shroud of agencies only and, you know, I'm kind of like I pull back the curtain and say, hey here, yeah, you're not gonna be able to do everything that an agency does, right? Here are some things that you can be doing to get yourself on track to get more coverage.
Ros: Awesome. And what's the course called?
Christina: The Media Pitching for Destinations Masterclass.
Ros: Awesome. And I know that you have a ton of resources and freebies and things on your website as well to help people get started. So what's the website that you'd like everybody to check out?
Christina: Yes. And I know that you said you were going to put this in the show notes because I have quite the last name. It is christina-lenkowski.my kajabi.com//resourcespage.
So I know that you'll drop that in the show notes. I have a bunch of free and paid resources that are things that I offer but also things that other people in the destination space offer. This is a different time right now and I, you know, want to make sure that I am helping as many people as I possibly can. And you know, there might be different things that people need help with so I'm kind of putting out webinars that I see that come along, or other courses that I see.
I'll put this podcast up as soon as it's ready to go. Just kind of get people moving forward. That's my main goal here.
I love that we both think similarly on that, because we love what we do and we want to help as many people and we always have. And I think for yourself working with destinations, and myself, working with travel agents and travel professionals, we really have a two pronged approach here. And we have seen our industry absolutely smashed with this crisis right now.
So the way that we can support each other and a number of hashtags that are out like #strongertogether is really beautiful and I love that our industry has always been so caring about one another and that we can now take this opportunity to support each other further and really come together.
And yes, I believe that we all need to be doing some marketing and public relations and prepare ourselves for the future. Right now though, I really want to highlight how we can take this opportunity to get as much information together.
People can join into your course so they can start doing more than two hours a week if they're able to get things up and running. Because it will come back. Like people will start traveling again and we need to be ready and focused and you know, prepared for this.
And using this downtime that we are able to use some extra hours to prepare things I think is gold.
So the way that I have always worked with a destination and from a travel agents point of view. And I'm sure that you can talk about it from a destination as well Christina, from a travel agent, or travel counselor or travel manager or travel expert, whatever you want to call yourself, we have always supported the destination, because we're sending people to you.
And the way that we have been educated to learn about the destination is through online specialist training programs, we have industry nights, we have different webinars that come out, we get marketing materials.
And this information, we can then turn into social media and discussions through blog posts and adding web pages to our websites to educate and inform the consumer about a destination.
So I've really felt that we have been able to work very well together and I know I was saying to you before, Christina, before we started this, that I've had destinations and hotels reach out to me and say, “Hey, Ros, just wanted to let you know that I'm thinking about you at this time”.
And from a travel agent or a business point of view, it's those people, I can assure you right now, it's those people and those companies and those destinations that when this all blows over, I know have had my back and I will be promoting like you wouldn't believe because it's that relationship for me in this business.
And I believe that relationships are key. If we don't look after each other, nobody will.
Christina: So I think that that's such a great idea for destinations to be reaching out to travel advisors and bus tour operators. You guys will set these things up because as soon as the floodgates reopen, people are going to travel. Think about how stir crazy you are right now in your house.
Ros: Oh my gosh. Yeah. Homeschooling. I’m out.
Christina: Like I'm just running. Like I don't like just wherever I go, you know. So I just imagine how much people are going to be traveling. And they may not be traveling super far maybe they're only going to go somewhere for a weekend, stay for a couple nights, but maybe they're going to go to a whole other place in the world.
I mean, people want to get out right now. So just remember that people are going to travel again. You need to be ready when they do.
Ros: Yes, absolutely. So that is a perfect segue into what we are talking about today. Christina, you are just on the ball today. So we're talking about destinations and what they can do to save their city but also five tips to help them get through uncertain times.
We want to help destinations reduce their overhead, we want destinations to still get their PR out to the general public and we want travel agents to get on board and help support these, educate themselves and learn so we can start marketing and get things out there as soon as we possibly can.
So, Christina, you've got a couple of facts here that I think are really interesting for people to hear about.
Christina: Yeah, I mean, I'm someone that likes to have a few facts before I kind of pontificate on what they might mean. So I kind of wrote some of these down. And they're from, you know, the stats are from the Destination Development Association, which is helmed by Roger Brooks, who's one of my personal mentors, he's an amazing destination development guy.
And, basically what they're saying is the majority of travel based businesses so retailers, restaurants, event producers, 14 millions of other businesses are going to lose perhaps 50% or more of their sales between March and June.
Okay, that is huge. I mean, that's just something that's nuts. I was telling, Ros earlier on the NPR this morning, they were saying that the hotel industry is thinking that 1 million people have been laid off in the past few weeks that work in the hotel industry in the US.
I mean, that is that is crazy. The cold hard truth is that Amazon companies like Amazon are currently hiring hundred thousand workers, just to help with the increased demand. Because people are not going to their regular shores that just tells you the kind of situation that we're in.
So we can't really focus on how to get those sales back necessarily right now, because it's just not the safest thing to do. But we do need to focus on how we can get those sales back when this is over because just like Ross and I said it will be over.
So what can we do to mitigate these losses, which are huge at this at this exact moment in time and I completely understand that. But what can we do to be looking forward because people are going to come out again and they're going to come out in droves.
So let's make sure, for destinations, let’s make sure that they’re coming to you.
Ros: Absolutely. And I agree and I say that exact same thing for agents as well. That yes, thousands of people have lost their jobs. We've seen hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of small businesses already decide to close their doors.
And that breaks my heart because I know how much we care and we want to be able to help people explore this world. Like it's such a beautiful place. I don't want us to stop exploring.
So we want to give everybody that's listening, some tips and tools from a destination point of view and also from a travel agents point of view of how we can come together and work together at a time like this and prepare so that we are ready to go as soon as the timing is right for marketing and public relations.
Okay, so first tip, Christina.
Christina: All right, I'm off. So, first tip is that we all need good news stories right now. We are starting to get overwhelmed with the doom and the gloom. I mean, I don't know about everyone else's listening, but I just have to turn my phone off sometimes because I'm just like, okay, this is too much.
And so, you know, we want to be thinking about the good things that are going on in your community, like the bears and windows, the bear hunts, right?
Ros: Oh, yeah.
Christina: You know, all over the world, Italian singing from balconies, social proof on a destination that is shareable, that these people care about their community, and they're doing all they can to get out there.
So think about what are your communities doing to take care of one another, and get any of those little good news stories out? You know, that's the type of stuff that's the type of PR that people are going to remember when the time comes.
Ros: Absolutely. I've seen that already and for me, as we were talking about the Italians in their small cities that are singing and having their own musical, in a concept of the balconies like that is priceless.
And for me, somebody who loves to explore, I love the architecture that I've seen. I loved the community spirit. And it's those sorts of stories that are going viral because people want good news.
So I agree. Anything that is good news, let's get that out there because people are going to remember that.
Christina: Yes, they're gonna remember that for a long time.
Ros: Have you guys had the bear hunts going around communities there? Yeah, we've seen some here in Australia as well and I think what a great idea.
Christina: That's a great idea. And as the mom to a young child just like you are Roz, it's so nice to have things like that, that you can kind of distract, you know, yourselves and your kids from kind of all these massive changes that are happening all of a sudden.
Ros: Absolutely. One thing that I saw yesterday that I thought was great was a destination in Japan and you and I both know that I love my snowboarding.
Christina: Which was amazing.
Ros: Yeah. So this is also a good friend of mine from one of the destinations. And he put a video up saying how many people can you count on the ski slope right now on this run? And I watched that whole video. I think it went for two minutes or three minutes of him right from the top of the mountain, all the way to the bottom. And I looked at it, there was no one and I thought, oh, that is magic. I love that.
And it was one of those things that I want. I want to go back there.
Christina: Thought you already started when you’re back?
Ros: Oh, I have. I am planning and in my mind and I know that the consumers are doing exactly the same thing.
What we are saying to you guys out there is what good news stories have you got within your community, within your town, within your city that you can share? Put it out on social media, share it with people that are in your database.
Like, we know that that's a big way to get information out, right? People want to see these things. So I know that you will also encourage destinations to have some sort of a database as well, Christina?
Christina: A hundred percent. I actually think that this has shown a lot of people how important having an e-newsletter or an email list is. Because social well, social media is just overwhelmed.
Ros: Yeah, it's too much for a lot of people.
Christina: So it’s too much for a lot of people. There's just so much going on out there. But getting into people's inbox, I think is more important than ever right now.
I'm a big, big believer and anyone who, you know, follows me knows that I actually believe that e-newsletters are even more important than social media. And because I think that they’re both important, but I think that you know, an email is what people tend to open and they'll actually read and more people are going to see that typically than they're going to see a social media post.
Christina: Doing you know, something like you're saying like even a short little video or something like that that's safe, you know something that is you can do, but sharing it on your social media but sharing it in your email is would be just fantastic.
Ros: Absolutely. I know that there are going to be some brand new YouTube stars that come out of this whole thing. It’s just crazy.
So if you are doing video, then don't forget to put it up on YouTube, share it on your website, like just get whatever you can together.
So what we're saying is share some good news stories. We don't want it to be all doom and gloom and upsetting though, that is a fact of what's happening in the world right now, but people do need some happiness.
Christina: One idea that I just had when we were talking is and I don't know if you've seen this in Australia, but people are making like, almost like stained glass windows. Like on their windows like with just a little bit of acrylic paint and water and kids and like painters tape.
Ros: Oh wow, no.
Christina: Windows or they're even doing it with chalk on the sidewalks or things like that. And one really cool idea is maybe ask your downtown businesses or something to do that on one of their windows or on the sidewalk or something like that. Or you know at a safe distance and a time that makes sense.
And then you know, give people a day or two to do it and then you go through and film your downtown and all these really pretty stained glass maybe sidewalks or the windows or things like that. And it's something that they can easily do and you're showing off your town in a safe way.
Christina: No one's gonna be out there with you. You're just you know, taking it and saying like, Hey, I'm going down our main drag right now, here are some beautiful stained glass windows and stuff like that that people have been making.
And you can see how to do that online. There's a ton of stuff. I've seen a lot of parents have been doing it in their own houses or backyards because we're all with our kids. We’re trying to find activities that could keep them going.
You know, I could see that for a downtown. You know, doing that and being able to kind of show off your downtown and maybe a different or unique way, but something that the business owners still feel like they're doing something.
Ros: Absolutely. I had another thought as well and I'll come back to it but I completely agree. Anything that we can do to get information out there and good, good news stories. I love it.
All right, so the next thing and the next tip that we have for you is about what's happening not now, but in the future.
Christina: Yeah, so the thing about media or particularly print media is that it tends to work on like a five to seven month cycle. All right, so that's like from when you might pitch something to when you might actually see it, you know, in a new, you know, in a newspaper in a magazine or something like that.
And so I want destinations to be thinking about, what do you have coming up, four or five, six months down the road, you know, so seven months down the road? Because that's the type of stuff that you should be pitching.
Because, you know, at that point, fingers crossed, you know, all signs point to, we should be able to, you know, kind of be getting back to resuming our somewhat normal life, you know, hopefully, at that point.
So having a peace land, five months from now would be a perfect time. And you know, a perfect time for a visitor because people still get travel magazines. So that is one of the magazines that people still want because they want to dream.
They want to think about the places that they can go and the things that they can do you know, that food magazines are like that, too. People still get it because they want to think about doing those things. I want to think that I'm going to cook this amazing meal and I want to think that I'm going to be able to go on this trip.
Ros: I totally agree with you right there.
Christina: People are looking at their travel magazines.
Ros: You know, What? Oh my gosh, I can't believe that you said that because it was only last week when here in Australia, we felt the full impact late last week. And, I sat down and I went, well, we're running out of toilet paper, right? Or the consumers think we're running out of toilet paper?
Seriously, we are not running out of toilet paper, but consumers do think that we are. And I thought, what is it that people are going to be doing now in lockdown? A lot of people are saying, well, what are your favorite podcasts? What are you reading? What are you doing? What activities? Can you do anything online? And YouTube videos for exercises.
And I thought for all of my clients, one thing that they want right now is probably some dreaming and reading material. So I sent out to everybody and said, “Hey, guys, you know, if you are stuck at home, and you want to dream big about your next trip, send me an email or send me a message about where you are dreaming of going and I'll put a brochure in the mail and send it to you.
Because the postal service is still an essential service, right? So we can still get mail out to our end user. As well as anything else that you're doing. And I'm so glad that you talked about that with the travel publications, because that is an ideal opportunity for all of us to use right now.
Whether it is a publication that has already been printed or you've already had that, or it's something that is coming up in three to six months time. I think that that's absolute gold, and I encourage any of my travel colleagues out there, if you've got these at home, or you've got these in an office that you can get access to or get delivered to you, then get them out to the consumer.
Christina: I think that's a great idea, Ros. I love that idea.
Ros: Peace out.
Christina: I think that's so good. And I like that idea for destinations like, yeah, you might, maybe even if you don't have something coming down the pipeline, but you had an awesome story last year in a big publication, send that out to your audience. Send that to them.
Be like, “Hey, remember when we have this, like, I just want to get you dreaming about what's coming up.”
Things like that. I mean, I love that idea. And I think that's a really good way. You don't always have to be creating new content. What’s already been done is fantastic. So I think that that's why I love that idea. I think that's a great idea.
Ros: Awesome. So we're also talking about preparing all of the information right now for three to six months time, and what sort of things can a destination prepare in a time like this?
Christina: Yeah, I mean, I think that I would absolutely be getting my media kit in order.
Ros: What do you consider as a media kit?
Christina: So I consider an online media kit. And this is something that I actually teach in my course because I think that it's that important. An online media kit is a place where a journalist or someone can go get pictures to download, find fast facts about your destination, easily find how to contact you.
So easily find out your contact information and how to get ahold. The pictures, I don't make them do anything. They don't have to sign up. They don't have to do anything like that. I just have them available for them to download. If they need a bigger size, they can always reach out and ask for that.
But you have to make stuff as easy as possible. That is the main job of a PR person, we are making a journalist job as easy as possible. The easier that you make their job, the more likely they are to work with you.
Ros: So why do you have to make it easy?
Christina: Because they don't have a lot of time.
Ros: Why don't they have a lot of time? How many? How many things do you think that they're getting thrown at ta day or how many stories do they need to get out?
Christina: I mean, they're getting out especially if it's an online public or something like that. I mean, they're probably working on three or four different stories at the same time.
You know, I mean, they're just trying to survive. They're just they're just trying to get as much in the quickest information they can and get it out there. You know, because the thing that I teach to my courses is like, “Hey, we all want to have a multi page spread in Nat -Geo.
Ros: Oh, yes, please.
Christina: But the thing is, don't let that be your goal. Like don't don't have that be your end goal. Like that's what you have to have media coverage look like. I mean, I shouldn't say that should be your goal. That could definitely be a goal. But don't have that be the only thing that you're like, if it's not this, then it doesn't matter.
Because I'm going to tell you right now that a lot of writers and reporters, they don't travel to your destination to write a story about your destination.
Ros: But it sounds like they do in publications, it sounds like they do.
Christina: It sounds like hey do and sometimes, they do. But a lot of times they don't. And I think that that's important for people to realize because people get really wrapped destinations get really wrapped up in this, because they're like, well, we don't we have the funds to bring them in or we don't have whatever.
Most of the time, it's not really going to be an issue. And especially if it's a reporter, usually their, whatever the publication is, they're going to pay for them to come. They're going to pay for them to go because they don't want it to be biased.
Ros: Yeah, right.
Christina: You know, that's like you pay for their flight and you paid for XYZ.
So don't get wrapped up in that. Remember that most stories are not going to be written from the reporter actually being there. They're just going to be from information that you're providing them.
So with your pictures with your quotes with your facts and figures. Oh, that's the other thing I always like to have in a media kit is like a facts and figures sheet. You know, for kind of all that information like when you were founded and you know how many people live there and get it all back.
Ros: Yes, the face. Yeah, the facts
The other thing that I was also thinking there from a travel advisor point of view, is to be able to reach out to the destinations because we also travel. And we love the destination is, you know, we're encouraged to write our own blogs and put our own stories on our website.
But I think that having an integrated approach with a destination to provide some of those facts, grab some of those images, and then, and then tell the destination, hey, we are going to be putting out this story or I visited your destination or experience.
This is a blog that I'm putting out, I just wanted to share it with you. And it could be the opportunity that, you know, destinations can put that on their website as well.
So we're each looking after each other, that the blog gets promoted from one point but also from another and at the end of the day, it's to help the end consumer.
Ros: So anything that we can do to work together I think is really important. And it's about preparing what you can do right now.
So we're suggesting inside the media kit, images that people can just download without having to sign up for something, a fact sheet, any events that you've got coming up, would you suggest to add those in there?
Christina:I would put in events that you have coming up. I mean, I, you know, the only thing that I would say about that is make sure you're keeping it updated.
Because there's nothing more annoying than going to a site and they haven't updated that information in like a year, and everything has passed and you're just like, well, then how up to date is any of this.
Ros: Yeah, that's true.
Christina: Yeah. You know, and so I think that that's the tricky thing about events. One thing that I've seen places do that I think is cool is if they have annual events, they'll actually put like bigger events.
They'll do like a sheet about that, like, hey, every second April second weekend in April, we do this big event, we do XYZ, and then you can kind of get more info in there if you want, or you're just updating it once a year. Now, for a lot of places is much more realistic.
Ros: Okay, so making sure that your website's up today, it's user friendly, have downloadables available. And also, I think it is important, as we said earlier about getting people onto your database. So I don't think it's necessary that they have to sign up in order to get this information because we want to make it as easy as possible for the journalists and the end user to be able to access it.
But I do believe that we need to have somewhere that they can sign up to receive further information or or something. Yeah, I mean, you and I call it a lead magnet, but I think something that is a value that they will want to get to then go on to your database.
Christina: So I think, so when I'm talking about the media kit that is specifically for journalists, most general consumers aren't going to go to that to find that information that they don't really know what that is or what that's all for that. That is specifically for journalists and that's why I'm saying you don't have them sign up, because they don't want your newsletter.
Christina: They don't know. Don't annoy them by having them beyond that. But when it comes to the end consumer or the potential visitor, you absolutely want to have some kind of lead magnet or something that's going to encourage them to sign up.
And the things that I kind of recommend for that are, you know, maybe be looking a little forward like looking for this summer fall or something like that, but like five best fishing holes in our area, and won't offer it anywhere else.
So it's exclusive to people that signed up in our newsletter list. It's not anywhere else. But something like it does not have to be fancy. It does not have to be something that you spend hours designing or things like that.
If I've learned anything from my own business, it's that people just want the content like yeah wants to look nice, like, you know, I whatever, but like I want to be spelled correctly. But like, I don't need to spend all this money to have it be designed or anything like that people just want that content.
So, you know things like five fishing holes or you know what people love? People love itineraries.
Ros: Yeah. Right.
Christina: Your destination if you give them one weekend in Boise, here's what you should do, where you should eat and what you should order. When you go like what is their special. I mean, you get into it like you're like, get the trout at fork, you know, done into all this stuff.
Itineraries are the most popular things that we do for people, they just want to know like, if I were to come, what do you think I should do? They might not follow that itinerary to a tee and that's fine, but they're gonna take certain things from that. And definitely, you're going to put that in there.
Ros: I love that and it is getting scrappy.
So you mentioned before about writing your emails or designing the flyers and things right now it is just get scrappy and get it out there. We're not having to be perfectionist. You don't need it meticulous. We're just gonna get it done.
I love it. Alright, so let's move on to the next step for our destinations and for agents, we are encouraging people. And you also led into that as well. They're about getting scrappy and getting the itineraries out there because we can still and this may change, but right now some of our camping grounds and IV places that you call them IVs. We call them campgrounds or carriers Van pox.
Christina: Yeah. All of the big trucks you call them caravans.
We call them caravan. Yeah, I mean, that is becoming a little bit more popular over here and they're big and they're expensive, that's for sure.
Christina: A hundred thousand dollars.
Ros: Yeah, it's crazy.
Christina: People will have them or they rent them. That's right.
Ros: And we do have another friend Camille who teaches people about how to live remotely in an RV. Yeah, that's right. Which is which is crazy. Oh my gosh, I couldn't do it. My mom could but I couldn't.
So where we think that there's an opportunity here as well for national parks?
Christina: Yeah, I mean, right now., you know, you need to obviously be doing the research and making sure you know in your destination, what's open and what's not open. And we'll kind of get into that in the next tip a little bit as well.
But, camping particularly self contained camping meaning an RV or a caravan that has a bathroom in it, so that you're not having to use any kind of communal resources, right, like you're using just your own stuff.
That type of campaign should absolutely be encouraged right now. I actually think that it's kind of silly to be perfectly honest, that we are closing even that kind of campaign right now. Because I think that that's a an opportunity that we could use to still be bringing tourism dollars into some of those camp sites in a responsible way.
Ros: A safe and responsible way.
Christina: I mean, lock up your bathrooms. lock them up.
Christina: Like you have to be in your, you know, your area and the campgrounds are way more than six feet apart from each other. You know, so that's just kind of, you know, that's just kind of my feeling on that I think that we went a little extreme on that.
But with that being said, there are a lot of private campgrounds that are still open, and in the US places to look at our campendium.com. So it's campendium, campendium.com and recreation.gov.
And those places absolutely will tell you what's open and what's not open right now. And if you have website or if there are campsites that are open, even private ones, which is the majority of what's open right now, in your area, make sure that in campendium and recreation. gov that they have pictures on there and they have reviews and things like that.
This is the perfect time for destinations to get those camping things up. Like you know, all those things that you've kind of pushed to the side for a while because it's not a, you know, it's not the biggest moneymaker and you know, doesn't bring in as much as hotels.
Well right now, guess what hotels are bringing you in zero?
Christina: Those sites. Get those campsites all up and running so that people know where they can go. And those are still going to bring tourism dollars into your organization and they're going to help those campsites as well.
So be promoting boondocking, which is what that's called dry, self contained camping. On the campendium homepage, they have an awesome five minute video about boondocking. It's called boondocking one on one.
And that is a great thing to share on your social media channels. To show people like hey, this is still something that is safe to do. And here are the areas around us that are still you know that you can go do this. People want to get out of their houses.
Christina: And if they do it in a safe way, and they have the means, you know, they either already have a camper or they're able to rent one, at least in the US trailer and camper rental places are having the best weeks ever had.
Ros: Yeah, right.
Christina: Well, we're getting them and they want to get out.
Ros: We're seeing campgrounds shut down here. So caravan parks, we're seeing them shut down here. But I know that there are people that live in there are these and live in their caravans and their whole life is now around traveling.
So they want to get out they want to explore and they've chosen that lifestyle for whatever reason that might be.
So I'm also going to link to Camille's program here because there will be people who are currently in that situation and they are looking for destinations that they can go to that are still safe, that they can practice their social distancing, that do have facilities because these people are going to need groceries, they're still going to need essential services, but they also want to continue as much as they possibly can in the lifestyle that they've also chosen.
Even like we've talked about beforehand, even if you decide that you want to go camping off the grid, which you know, so not at a campground or designate a campground that might not bring money into your destination, necessarily, but just like you said, there's still going to be using the essential services in your town, they're still going to go to the grocery store, they're still going to, you know, use your post office, they're still going to do things that they that they need to do in that area.
And you know, what, you're also showing them hey, come back.
Christina: Like, this is all over, like, come back, eat at our restaurants, you know, do all the things that we want you to come and do, you know, but maybe they're gonna go somewhere that they wouldn't go otherwise.
And so I just think that that's an important thing to remember is that camping should not be off the table and something that you don't stop promoting. If you can find ways like boondocking or dry docking, that it can be done safely.
And in the US, a cool thing to look at is harvesthosts.com, and I don't know if they have anything like this in Australia or Even in Canada, but what it is, is essentially wineries, breweries working farms, they essentially allow people to come and camp on their property.
They have completely self contained. So same thing I'm talking about, they're not going to offer, they don't have any hookups. They're not offering them a bathroom, they're not doing anything like that. They can come I don't know how much it costs, I'm sure it depends on where you go.
But the idea being that you can park at a vineyard, right?
Christina: It will not be beautiful. And like, even if they're, you know, maybe they're, you know, maybe normally you'd be able to go into their tasting room and do a little bit of that. I don't know how that situation is right now, those might be close, but you can still stay at a vineyard, you can still you know, enjoy the beauty of that area around you.
Or, you know, maybe they do offer some kind of limited tasting hours or only a few people in at a time or something like that. I honestly don't know.
But, you know, those are some really cool things you could say in a farm, a working farm work. I mean, if I had the ability to, that would be such an amazing thing to take my daughter to like a farm where because right now is when babies are being born, there are baby goats there are baby lambs there all these things everywhere.
You know, you could be getting fresh eggs every morning, you know, by staying at a farm if you have a self contained RV. And so that type of stuff is almost like an Airbnb for RVs like is essentially what it is and like in cool places.
Christina: So you know, that's the type of stuff that if you have any of those in your area that are listed, like what a cool thing to promote. There are opportunities out there, we just have to be getting a little more creative.
And again, make sure that those websites have updated pictures, updated reviews, things like that so that people do want to actually travel there.
Ros: Yeah. And I think from an agent's point of view, no, they aren't big moneymakers, exactly the same as the destination but it is encouraging people to still get out and explore. It may not be the $50,000 massive trip that somebody was going to do.
But it is still a unique opportunity that guests and clients can go and do something. Explore locally. That's one thing that we were talking about here in Australia, maybe a month ago, we're talking about after our bushfires and then the floods, right, let's get out and inject the cash locally into the Australian economy.
And now we're having to close all that down, but that's okay. So people will start traveling again.
Christina:They will be. I was gonna say about that if you also locally having like a carribean dealership or an RV dealership, maybe give them a call, see if there's some kind of affiliate.
Getting the work out like as a travel agent, like hey, you know, I'm, I'm thinking about setting up a few things for my, some of my clients that want to get to some of those. I mean, I don't even know how feasible this is, but that's the type of thing that you could you could start asking, you know, like, see if there's something that you can set up through that you know.
Ros: Absolutely. Oh, definitely. We, as a travel agent, we would work directly with those sorts of companies or car hire companies that have the big vehicles that can do that, you know, the Alamos and different companies that can do that.
So the biggest point here is that people will start traveling again, they are not going to be stuck inside forever. This isn't Armageddon. And people will want to get out of their houses.
We are suggesting right now is the perfect opportunity for destinations and for agents to be top of mind when things shift. We want the media coverage for the destinations. We want agents to help promote places. We think that this is it is going to turn around and we and people are going to want to get out of their house.
Christina: Yes, I want to get out of my house right now.
In general I mean I would give anything to be able to go get a coffee.
Ros: Oh, absolutely,
Christina: Do a normal thing. So yes.
Ros: I'm waiting for a coffee van to drive around our streets here just with a bell or something like that Mr. Weepy or an ice cream van does, I would love that to happen.
You don't know what Mr. Weepy is? Oh, oh Christina it's an ice cream van that has a little song tune and you go and get yourself serve ice cream with like chocolate fall on it.
Oh, yeah. Okay, I will introduce that to you when you come here.
Christina: I also like what is it that you call cotton candy?
Ros: Fairy Floss
Christina: Fairy Floss is adorable.
Ros: I do love fairy floss as well.
Yeah, I know of a very good company here in Australia called Fluffy Crunch and they do different flavors of fairy floss.
Last year they even put together an advent calendar and I was able to give like little pouches of fairy floss in so many different flavors to a number of my clients as an advent calendar.
Christina: That's really cool.
Ros: It's very clever, isn't it? That’s fairy floss.
All right. So we moved back into making sure the next step is making sure that visitors know what's open and what's not coming back to having that website up to date, and then working with local media now.
Christina: Oh, one thing that I think a lot of places have kind of been missing out on is and I've seen some places do this really well. And I see some places not do anything at all, but having either it's on your homepage or having just a dedicated page. talks about what's still open and what's not open in your area.
And that's a big thing that destination should be doing right now. You know, take away the confusion from people, and you might have to update it every day. You know, things are changes as we go about. And that's just going to be the matter of what it is.
But you can still be telling people like, hey, we still have things that you can come and do here. You know, we still have lakes, we saw hiking trails, we have climbing boulders, we have all these things that you can kind of do in isolation.
Is it going to bring money to your town? Not particularly, but is it going to get people out and also seeing what you have to offer? Yes.
And I think that that type of thing is so important, you know, if you have a beautiful lake, encourage people to bring out their canoes, bring up their stand up. paddleboards bring out their kayaks, you know, come out and as long as you stay six feet away from other people that aren't in your family, get out here and enjoy some recreation, you know, because maybe they haven't thought about your area for that before, but they might think about that later on.
Yeah, you know, a month from now when we come back, well, hey, I have such a nice time kayaking on that lake, let's go out for lunch and go do a kayak on the lake there this weekend, you know, things like that.
Ros: It's really important for the local communities as well. So it may not be that you are getting guests or people coming from further away. But this is really important for your city as well right now.
Christina: Sanity right now. Like just for everybody's sanity, being able to get outside, you know, is so important. And so, you know, doing that and showing that you care about people being able to get outside and safe places and guess what you have that in your community, I think is huge.
You know, I was speaking with one of my, one of my favorite, they’re past clients of mine, but I just love them. Destination Caldwell, and they're based in Idaho as well. But they have this beautiful Creek running through their downtown.
And, you know, their downtown has been empty, you know, because they you know, they've shut down their Plaza and all this type of stuff. And I was talking with their lady who runs their social media. And she was like, well, I put up a picture yesterday and said, like, hey, you know, beautiful night on Indian Creek, you know, Plaza, and I was like, you know, the thing you have to say is like, there, there aren't really any people down here.
So come on out tomorrow, walk on the plaza and enjoy it without having to fear seeing too many people like, get specific. Yes, right now, like, people don't want to take the chance of going down there if it's going to be crowded.
Now, you may know that it's not going to be crowded, so you can put in there like, hey, not really anyone here or like that ski mountain, you know, yeah. You know, no one's really here. So you can come ski if you want to ski, you know, type of thing.
I think just being upfront with people about that, and just saying, you know, don't try and hide the Covid. Don't try and hide covid because it's there, and it's going to be in the forefront of everyone's mind.
So just appease that fear from the get go, you know, saying like, hey, you can still walk along the creek. You know, we asked everyone to keep a respectful distance. We haven't had really any issue. We haven't had any crowds, anything like that, I think it's going to make people feel more comfortable to come back into your downtown or come take advantage of hiking trails or things like that that you might have to offer.
Ros: Absolutely. So we also want to encourage hotels as well that have had bookings for clients coming whether it's an international or it's a domestic or whatever it might be. We, you and I agree on this that we think it's really important for hotels to make new plans with free rebooking right?
The client was going to travel anyway.
Christina: Yeah, I think that should be the messaging. Don't just be saying free cancellations which of course you may be offering. I mean, I would be offering like just in general but don't have that be the messaging that you're coming out with, you know, have the message that you're coming out with the we'd love to help you rebook this for free.
We can't wait to see you when it's safe to do so. You know, really just keep them hyped up, keep them encouraged to come. And just like you said, like, you know, just making it clear that like, you've already planned to do this. Right? So let's figure out how we can do this just a little bit later on.
Ros: Correct. Whether it is you know, if somebody says, I really want to go to this destination in March because of the weather, or because of what's happening there or because of the event.
So it may require more flexibility than just a six month deferral. It may be that, okay, you can't come this year, but we'd love you to come back next year. Let's walk today right now.
I would love for hotels and destinations to be able to be flexible in that approach because people are thinking, well, that's when I wanted to come it wasn't at a different time of year.
So I think that that's really important that we can get that messaging out there to the consumers and say, you were going to travel, we still want you to come. Let's just rebook you for a future time. And you know what? You've already paid for that.
So you don't need to worry about that because you now have a holiday booked for 12 months time. But if there are cancellation policies that allow people to get refunds, and that is what they want, then just do it. It's probably best to just let them walk away.
Christina: Yeah. And I think I know that that's hard.
Ros: It’s so hard for all parties.
Christina: That's why I think messaging that free rebooking and things like that is really important. But yeah, I mean, if someone's just staunchly, like, we're not coming, and it's, you know, and it's your cancellation policy, just let them go.
But there's also ideas of the things that you're talking about the rebooking, you know, or maybe if someone's even a little bit on the fence about it just being like, hey, we'll throw in a $20 restaurant gift card. Yeah. Or on site restaurant, things like that. I mean, stuff that isn't going to cost you, you know, hey, okay, well, we'll offer you two free cocktails upon arrival, that type of you know, I mean, honestly, like, I would do that.
Ros: Yeah, I was just thinking cocktails mine? Yeah, I’m in.
Christina: You probably didn't really need to convince me anyways, but now I'm totally and I mean, I think that stuff like that is awesome and and sending that out to people like, Hey, we want to rebook you for free. We also want to throw in a $25 gift certificate to our on site restaurant or when you come back.
That is $25 but that's not $25 to you. Right, like at your restaurant, that's, you know, that's just the the cost of what it is for them.
Christina: So that is but you know, it might be that thing that gets them to be like, okay, yeah, let's rebook, huh? Yeah, something kind of little like that. Or, like I said, the two cocktails or the temporary drink or something like that.
It's a little thing to you, you know, in regards to the grand scheme of things, but if that makes them just go over the edge of being like, yeah, I want to rebook.
Ros: And we were finding that in travel as well. So from an agency point of view, we are able to help educate the end user and the consumer, they say, hey, we were able to move this. But that's also a win for us. It makes us look good, because we are then going to bet on behalf of our clients, and we're also able to help them secure a better deal for the future.
Christina: Yeah, exactly.
Ros: So it's a win win situation and that also then brings us into our last point, which I spoke briefly about with you before, and that's our destination training and specialist programs.
So from an agency point of view, globally, there are specialist training online programs for destinations, whether you are a small city or whether you are a state, and agents can get up to date with what's going on.
Whether this is through a series of videos or a quiz or reading fact sheets, but there are specialist programs and now is the perfect opportunity, not only for the destinations to have these sorts of things together like your media kit, but also to have travel agents spend a bit of time becoming the specialist on a destination.
Because these guys, we know it happens on a global scale. And I've seen over and again that there are agents who specialize in one destination, and they have been severely hit because their business model is so nation specific.
Now I know that you and I agree that in order to do business, you do need to have a specialty and you need to have some sort of a niche. And you experience that with exactly what you do, and I do as well.
But I also believe that it is important that there is some sort of flexibility in that as well. So I'd really like to encourage travel agents right now to use this time to update your skills, learn about different destinations, learn about new things that are happening, and work closely with different providers to uplevel your own education
Christina: I love it. I think that's such a great idea.
Ros: So now, and I'll just leave it on to the last couple of things. And Christina, is there anything else that you would like to say to destinations or travel agents before we finish up?
Christina: I mean, I think that we've kind of talked about a lot here today. And kind of what we spoke about a little bit earlier, use this time to level up. So whether you're a destination, whether you're a travel agent, whatever it is that you do, use this time that we have, that everyone has this, this whole new world that we're all living in, to uplevel a skill that's going to help you down the road, because I know we've said it a million times, but it's true people are going to travel again, we want them to come to you or we want them to work through you to get that done.
So just keep that in mind like this. This will happen we will see people traveling and again, you know, we just want to make sure that we're ready for it and up leveling a skill because becoming an expert like a travel advisor or learning something like how to do your own media relations or things like that are the type of things exactly the type of things that people should be doing right now.
Ros: Absolutely. This world is way too beautiful to stop exploring. And I know that we are all looking forward to the time that we can explore again. And times right now, when times get tough, I think a lot of people get tougher.
And we are going to see that in our industry, that the people who will shine are those that are preparing right now. Those are the learning to do their own media cut back on budgets, your program, I know is a key for destinations.
If they're not into it, or they're not a part of your program, then they are certainly missing out because when you need to cut back on finances and prospecting and those sorts of things, you need to get scrappy.
And our main thing right here today is let's get scrappy. Let's get the information out there. Let's prepare because it's at times like this when there are big brands that will be blown, their innovation that will come out.
And we will see brand new companies that we've never even heard of before that will become household names. We're going to see YouTube channels take off. And that is set up by people who have been laid off from their jobs.
And they have a specific skill in their particular career path that are going to shine. So now we're encouraging you as destinations and as agents to get creative, get scrappy, get out there. Prepare what you can because people will begin to travel again.
Christina: They will hundred percent.
Ros: All right, Christina, thank you so much for being with me today. And being part of the Travel Agent Achievers podcast. I absolutely adore you as a friend. And I know the skill set that you have is just second to none.
So if you are thinking of doing your own media and media pitching and you want learn how to do it. I will link to Christina's website, but it is christinalenkowski.com?
Christina: Yep, that is it.
Ros: And you will find all of the information there.
Thank you so much Christina. I will catch up with you very shortly. And thank you everybody for listening.
Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast, make sure that you send us a review. Please reach out to me on social media, Travel Agent Achievers or [email protected]. Let us know how we can help you because we are here to support you at this time now and in the future.
And I absolutely adore you and love you to bits.
Thank you for listening. Bye for now.
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