MMGY NJF continues to closely monitor the U.S. media landscape and report on shifts during this ever-evolving time of pausing, staying at home and social distancing. Just a few weeks away from Memorial Day weekend and the traditional start to the summer travel season, parts of the nation are beginning to slowly open back up and others begin preparations to do so. Below is our third compilation of feedback collated from personal communication with editors, as well as industry webinars and panels that lend insight to what media are covering and plan to cover this summer.
- Editors across the board predict a newfound demand for domestic travel, especially regional travel and “nearcations” once restrictions are lifted. Publications are looking to highlight wide-open spaces, remote locations and natural surroundings. Travel + Leisure anticipates the return of the “Great American Road Trip.” The New York Post foresees a rise in “isolation retreats,” such as renting a cabin in a scenic area.
- Hotels are stating that cleanliness is the key to reopening when the time comes, but they don’t believe the customer will sacrifice experience for cleanliness. Founders from lifestyle hotel groups such as ACE, Sydell, Virgin and Standard state that safety does not mean sacrifice – while sanitation is where it starts (operational sanitation first, then design sanitation). Consumers want to return back to basics with no frills. They want to return to socializing with others in the simplest form. Return to market is also an opportunity for the industry to adopt more tech, a space where hospitality has historically lagged behind.
- Publications such as The Washington Post and National Geographic are reflecting on how this time could result in finally combatting overtourism. MMGY NJF has received several inquiries around what brands can do to continue managing overtourism following the pandemic. Additionally, editors are increasingly interested in spotlighting secondary cities as urban settings with fewer crowds.
- “Bubble” is the hot term of the moment. Some countries are considering a “tourism bubble” – partnering up to allow international travel between borders – while friends are joining together to form a “social bubble” to limit outside contact. Outlets like Elite Traveler are using this term to share ideas for where “social bubbles” can travel together, from hotel buyouts to luxury home rentals. Similarly, Departures and other luxury outlets have expressed interest in covering opulent getaways for wealthier readers to safely escape restrictions this summer.
- Feel-good stories are more press-worthy than ever. Media are shining a light on brands giving back, especially when it comes to nurses and other essential workers, as well as struggling small businesses. In an effort to jump-start the travel and hospitality industry, MMGY Global partnered with HSMAI to launch the Buy One, Give One program, and this initiative has already garnered widespread media attention. Publications have launched columns – such as Thrillist’s “Love Letters to My City” and The New York Times’ “36 Hours in… Wherever You Are” – to help readers in lockdown reflect on what their great cities have to offer.
- Publications are decreasing print content this summer. Hearst just announced that Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and Marie Claire will each publish just one edition this summer. Vogue will publish a June/July issue, while Vanity Fair will publish a July/August issue. The New York Times temporarily paused printing of its travel content, which will only live online for now; the “Travel” section has been replaced with a new section called “At Home” with games, recipes, lifestyle tips and more. The New York Post furloughed the team that oversees their luxury supplement, Alexa.
Given the uncertainty of large gatherings and what that means for events, meetings and conferences in the near future, we reached out to our media friends covering meetings to glean how we can best be of service to them. Here are the latest MICE trends:
- Venues and destinations “doing good” are in the spotlight. Outlets like Convene and Smart Meetings are looking to cover brands that are stepping up to combat the crisis by helping frontline workers or supporting their communities’ most vulnerable people.
- Editors at Northstar Meetings Group and The Meetings Magazine want to hear from venues, destinations and hotels about crisis management tips, industry forecasting, creative initiatives for staying top of mind with planners, and news related to new and/or rescheduled bookings.
- Crisis communications fatigue is on the rise. A few publishers are trying to pull back from crisis stories, as they think the appetite for nonstop pandemic coverage is waning. Some outlets, such as Corporate Incentives & Travel, are also considering consolidating issues since the industry is essentially on hold. Smart Meetings specifically requested to be kept in the loop with promotions and new hires.
- Evergreen content is still relevant. Editors at Travel Pulse Smart Meetings are still running stories about new venues and renovations, and some are sharing roundup and trivia-style stories without specific calls to action.
- Many have experienced significant cuts to their freelance budgets and are relying primarily on staff writers.