Puerto Rico destination marketing organization vows to ‘lead recovery’
Discover Puerto Rico looking to speed up normalization ‘once its safe to travel’
SAN JUAN – Discover Puerto Rico (DPR), the destination marketing organization (DMO), is working to keep the island on people’s minds and has based its planning on research given it anticipates a loss of 1.9 million room nights, three times what was lost months after Hurricane Maria, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DMO is responsible for all global marketing, sales and promotion of Puerto Rico and works with key players in the island’s visitor economy.
“Puerto Rico is facing two battles, the public health and the financial crisis this pandemic has caused around the world. For us, the most important thing is to speed the recovery cycle and save the 80,000 jobs that represent the tourism sector on the island. Every week we are seeing updated research from our partners based on facts and data, that are driving us the direction of what the consumer is thinking and if they want to travel after it is safe to travel,” Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico, said in a press release issued Friday.
During its second virtual industry update regarding the effects of COVID-19 on the Puerto Rican tourism sector, it shared data with the more than 350 participants, such as the effect on air capacity over the past two months, leading to a 13% drop “through the end of 2020.” However, an “increase in seats starting September through December has been seen, a strong signal in the return of leisure visitors in the 3rd and 4th quarters.”
Research by Destination Analysts found consumers are “looking to relax on a beach or in remote spaces that connect with nature, which positions Puerto Rico in a product advantage,” the DMO said, adding that continuous monitoring of the consumer sentiment helps the organization understand “the messaging, as well as the correct audience and timing, segmenting consumers by geographic and demographic differences.”
“Following our COVID-19 Action Plan, we are still on the Regroup Phase, it is important to understand that before entering the next phase we’ll be looking for key benchmarks like a decline in the number of new COVID cases on the island, travel restrictions into and on the island are lifted or reduced, and of course, we need to see a critical mass of tourism related businesses reopen in order to accommodate tourists,” explained Leah Chandler, CMO of Discover Puerto Rico.
Along with industry partners, the organization has been targeting potential travelers with “13 activations of virtual tours, from salsa lessons to cooking demonstrations, generating over 451 million impressions. Also, launching virtual backgrounds for Zoom, virtual puzzles with images of Puerto Rico, sounds of Puerto Rico video series and upcoming guided live tours with Google Earth and virtual postcards, among others.”
The DMO has launched online training videos, which can be found on its YouTube and social media channels, covering topics that “will be very beneficial” to help local businesses. Some of the topics that will be covered will be, “5 Ways to Optimize Partnerships During COVID-19,” “Best Practices for Managing Your Social Media Presence During a Crisis,” “10 Tips for Connecting with Journalists and Influencers Throughout COVID-19,” and “Google My Business Update and Instructions.”
The DMO said that although “lead volume is substantially down, we are still seeing activity and have produced 40 new leads for over 23,000 rooms or close to $20 [million] in economic impact since the lockdown began.”
Discover Puerto Rico said it is working with partners to create promotions that will attract people to the island.
“Discover Puerto Rico has not, and will not, stop promoting Puerto Rico. While this is not a time for paid advertising or customary sales activities, we will continue to keep Puerto Rico top-of-mind with our future visitors. We know this is not the time to travel to Puerto Rico, that does not mean that need to stop talking about the island. For those who are dreaming of their next vacation, we want them to be dreaming about Puerto Rico. For those who are planning a future meeting or convention, we want them to be planning to come to Puerto Rico. For those who are tired of working from home, we are ready to provide them a temporary escape, reminding them of beautiful beaches and sunsets, as well as, our rich culture, food and coffee,” Dean said.