Every segment of industry has been impacted by the public health and economic consequences of this global pandemic—perhaps none more than health care and tourism. Both of these high-touch industries face the daunting challenge of instilling confidence in consumers that it is safe to come back. What can health care marketers and communicators learn from the struggles of tourism’s marketers and communicators right now?

On 5/22/20, Mike and Stephen were joined by:

  • John Edman, Director, Explore Minnesota; Chair, Brand USA
  • Terry Mattson, President & CEO, Visit Saint Paul and the Saint Paul RiverCentre

Watch our Campfire Session, Travel & Tourism Insight to Help Your COVID Recovery. Or read below for key takeaways from our webinar event!

Our discussion included:

  • As access to services in both industries begins to slowly and carefully open what do consumers need to hear and experience?
  • What will the new normal look like and when will that new normal occur?
  • What strategies can be adopted to put our industries in the best position for whatever comes next? 

Here’s a summary:

  • Like health care, tourism is in a crisis mode right now. 
  • This is a large industry but a fragile one.
  • There is going to be a recovery but it will be very different from what people were thinking about even a couple of months ago.
  • Statistics were shared revealing the impact that tourism has on the economy of Minnesota.
  • The impact the virus has had on the state of tourism in Minnesota as a whole and in St. Paul was also explored. 

Latest survey—research was shared that indicates those in the tourism industry believe:

  • There will not be any improvement in the industry for the next six months or more. 
  • Every state is approaching reopening a little differently so there is a need for consumer education.
  • There is a need to focus on marketing and awareness.

Businesses are anxious

  • Small, medium or large, travel and tourism businesses are very anxious to get back to business again. 
  • They are optimistic that there will be a comeback. However, there is still a lot of angst about how to ramp up.
  • There is no playbook for what is happening now.

The single biggest challenge facing businesses in the reopening period is not knowing when the next phases are going into place and what they will entail.

Consumer confidence

  • Once governors open states, engaging consumer sentiment is of utmost importance.
  • A top priority in ensuring consumer confidence is making sure employees feel safe. If your employees don’t feel safe, you’re going to have a hard time communicating to your guests and consumers that it is safe as well.
  • Following/conducting consumer research is also important because even if consumers are allowed to come back into businesses and participate in travel and tourism, knowing what will make them feel comfortable/safe doing so is critical. 
  • The best way to do that is to develop programs that communicate safety.

Pent-up demand

  • Health care has experienced a pent-up demand for elective surgeries and primary care services.
  • Similarly, tourism and travel are experiencing a pent-up demand, with people wanting to get out and experience the world around them.
  • But the most important point for both industries is—consumers will only return once it is deemed safe.

What other business categories can learn from the plan to promote tourism and travel

  • The marketing strategies that were in place at the beginning of this year are basically obsolete and should be thrown away.
  • A traditional campaign, based on emotion is what is needed right now. 
  • We’ve got to get people to feel confident that they are going to be taken care of.


1. Our mindset shouldn’t be getting back to where we were. Our mindset right now should be where do we want to be tomorrow and how can we get there through this crisis.

2. Consumer confidence must be nurtured in order to bring people back in the door.

3. Communication, honesty and authenticity are paramount.

We’re in this together

As we think about this time we’re in, now more than ever, we need ideas, insights, and community. We hope our Campfire Sessions are providing the conversations you are craving about the issues and opportunities facing your health care organization and its leaders. 

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