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Heard Around the World: Positioning Philadelphia for Success as a Global Tourism Destination

June 24, 2020

The PHLCVB’s global team discusses promoting Philadelphia to overseas travelers

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, international travel quickly came to a halt and the sound of a friendly hello from a foreign visitor eager to experience Philadelphia was nowhere to be heard. As we continue to navigate the future of global travel, we spoke with representatives from the PHLCVB’s overseas representation team for advice and recommendations for how businesses in Philadelphia can position themselves for success in welcoming overseas visitors to the city.

What activities are you engaging in within your market to keep Philadelphia top of mind?

Greg Evans, PHLCVB UK Office:

With many people in the UK and Ireland turning to social media for communication, entertainment and support during these challenging times, we’ve increased our use of social media activity by sharing Philadelphia content such as the video of the Rocky impersonator sharing a message of hope, and Perseverance, Hope and Love messaging across all platforms to ensure Philadelphia is kept front-of-mind.

Additionally, the PHLCVB partnered with Kate Ovens, an influencer who visited the city in September 2019, to have her publish a video from her time in Philadelphia and recreate one of the delicious cheesesteaks she tried in the city.

Freddie Hu, PHLCVB China Office:

Not only keeping daily communications with consumers, we are also developing and preparing a new useful travel tool – Philadelphia WeChat Mini Program for Chinese tourists. It includes various functions and rich content which will become an information center of Philadelphia to gain exposure for partners and also a practical travel tool when Chinese travelers search and visit partners. It will help marketing activities during recovery and also benefit both partners and travelers ever after.

 

How can the PHLCVB membership base – hotels, attractions, restaurants – best position themselves to potential visitors from your market while travel is limited?

Freddie Hu, PHLCVB China Office:

Developing, preparing, and sharing more in-depth attraction stories and videos, which can be fit into China press releases and social media content calendars to keep their presence in the China market. Since family and FIT travelers will occupy a larger market in the future instead of group travelers, our suggestion to PHLCVB members – hotels, attractions, restaurants – is to build up their own social media channels to better deliver information and establish an emotional bond with Chinese tourists.

Dheera Majumder, PHLCVB India Office:

When the crisis is behind us, transparent communication by partners will be crucial. It will be important for stakeholders to communicate their readiness to welcome visitors, highlighting newly implemented ways of service and enhanced hygiene standards.

Penny Brand, PHLCVB Australia Office:

We are all in need of a positive spin we can share with the industry during the isolation days, so it’s important to maintain a positive presence. This can be done socially or with your industry partners. It’s the time for community connections and support. Use your industry and/or agent databases to celebrate stories of recovery and resilience, remind them why they love you and why it’s so important for them to visit.

Massimo Loquenzi, PHLCVB Italy Office:

I think that during these times narration is the key instrument to inspire the potential visitor. People are interested in emotional stories, in curiosities. Start from the story behind a certain building, location, special plate and describe the offer you can provide, tasty menu from restaurants, best amenities from hotels, engaging entertainment from attractions.

 

What are specific tips from your market that you recommend our members and stakeholders to implement to prepare themselves for a new normal of travel?

Greg Evans, PHLCVB UK Office:

Flexibility. In this increasingly uncertain environment, travelers require added flexibility when making a travel booking. We suggest members and stakeholders adapt their cancellation and transfer policies to reassure clients they can change their booking should they need to or are entitled to a fully refundable product where applicable.

Open Communication. Train the staff and team to answer concerns and questions comfortably and confidently from clients, operators, and trade partners. Have a list of FAQs prepared and shared with the team to ensure staff are aware of the company response to any issues raised in relation to COVID-19. This should also be available on the member’s website should customers wish to find out more.

Simone Saxer, PHLCVB Germany Office:

Guests should be greeted in a friendly atmosphere. They want to spend their stay in a pleasant setting. It might be challenging to implement sterility and warmth at the same time, but when long-distance travel is considered again, Germans could decide against it if the ability to relax is limited during their vacation.

Massimo Loquenzi, PHLCVB Italy Office:

Safety should be used as a marketing tool. Think how important the word “security” has been after 9/11 and now the word is “safety.” Consider making your guidelines available digitally. In reservation confirmations following bookings, include the measures in the communications.

Karin Gert Nielsen, PHLCVB Scandinavia & Finland Office:

Update your website, and make sure you have contact info that speaks to an international market, no 800 numbers, email, and respond within 24 hours. The new normal is: easy, hassle-free, safe. Talk about what you do specifically to make your product a safe, easy, and hassle-free experience. Your sales channels, web, and social platforms should reflect that. No waiting lines at entrance to museums and attractions. Show active aspects of the city like great running trails around your hotel, bikes provided at hotel, etc. Promote “out of high season.” We Scandinavians travel all year around, and always on the outlook for great deals outside high season. This will become even more demanding moving forward.

 

What positive changes to the travel industry, specifically benefiting destinations, do you anticipate will come from COVID-19 recovery?

Simone Saxer, PHLCVB Germany Office:

We believe that tourism will become more conscious in the future. Tendencies are that the share of cut-price trips will decline. For one thing because the pandemic has created a new awareness among many people but also due to the fact that travel, especially flight fares, might get more expensive. This might lead to the development that the vacation experience is more valued again, and therefore people are willing to spend more money on-site for a unique experience because the possibility to travel and to experience other countries is no longer taken for granted.

Laurie-Anne Batista, PHLCVB France Office:

Travelers will favor committed destinations for the environment, for health, sanitary measures, etc. Some trends will emerge and nature, slow-tourism, local culture, and heritage will be more important in the future. Philadelphia has many assets that correspond to this new trend and can definitely rock the recovery!

 

What makes Philadelphia a special destination for you? Are there any activities you are looking forward to the most once you can travel again?

Greg Evans, PHLCVB UK Office:

The friendly and safe nature of the city is one of the key selling points and I can’t wait to return to attend the Philadelphia Marathon in November to watch my daughter run, assuming it takes place.

Simone Saxer, PHLCVB Germany Office:

There are many parks, the river front, street art and beer gardens in Philadelphia and everything walkable, which are on one hand Germans’ favorites anyway, but on the other hand these places offer the best pre-condition for a relaxed “new normal” since we assume that there will be an increasing interest in outdoor activities and attractions. In combination with the great diverseness of museums, historical and other attractions, restaurants and shopping destinations, Philadelphia offers a perfect mixture of opportunities for everybody, no matter which age or interests you have.

No matter what you’re looking for in your vacation, you will find it in Philadelphia. And each stay can be different due to the countless opportunities, different hotel products, etc. I hope to be back in Philly soon and enjoy the parks and beer gardens, visit festivals, and try new restaurants and bars.

Massimo Loquenzi, PHLCVB Italy Office:

Philadelphia is my second home. Representing PHLCVB in Italy for more than twenty years made me travel many times to Philadelphia. The attraction my family and I feel towards Philadelphia made the city a frequent destination for vacation, summer courses, city breaks and visits to friends.

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