Andrea Vetrano is a luxury travel marketing expert from Catania, Italy. And in the last 6 years, he has become a voice of authority in digital marketing. Photos and videos of his sojourns have earned him popularity and given him a career that lets him do what he likes best – travel! With COVID-19 creating a dent in the world of travel and tourism, we hooked up with him to get an insider’s view.
Q1. What role does digital marketing play to boost travel and tourism?
A. One of the oldest and most fundamental rules of marketing has been – be where your customer is. Isn’t the digital space a perfect manifestation of that idea? Regular people are creating vlogs, writing blogs, setting up travel channels for regular people. Travel ads have made a long journey from the TV to youtube, websites, and podcasts. Digital marketing has brought people closer to travel and the idea of travel itself. It tells them loud and clear, “So you can’t go to Sao Paulo this summer? Don’t worry, we’ll bring it to you!” And they do.
Q2. How has the coronavirus impacted the travel industry? And how’s it coping?
A. It hasn’t been easy. Coronavirus was the opposite of everything travel. And while there’s never a good time for a pandemic, 2020, I feel was especially bad because, travel, you can say, had just started to become a more accessible form of fun, learning, rejuvenating, earning, for a larger number of people than ever before in recorded history. People were beginning to understand the importance of travel. It was therapeutic in the most wholesome way. Then, Corona hijacked the dreams of every wanderer. And without the traveler, there can be no travel industry. In fact, in the first phase of global lockdown, sometime in April, the World Travel and Tourism Council had predicted a loss of 75 million jobs and $2.1 trillion in revenue. With the travel industry taking a hit, allied sectors, like hospitality and airlines, were also affected.
The tourism industry is a very forward-thinking industry. They were quick to understand that once the travel ban is lifted, travel will be one of the first things movement-starved people will turn to. So, they started developing corona-specific travel packages, upping their sanitization methods, exploring automation, and developing cashless modes of payments. They are also investing in well-known travel influencers, travel bloggers, and digital marketing strategists to help them reach out to their customers and build an image of reliability and care. The travel industry is keeping no stone unturned to re-assure travelers of their commitment towards their safety and hygiene.
Q3. In what way has the pandemic prepared the industry for the future?
A. Well I certainly hope that the most influential individuals in the business were able to use the time to re-assess the status of the industry at large. I think it has certainly taught everyone that nothing is guaranteed and therefore, nothing should be taken for granted. This means that the travel industry, and I assume other industries as well, will need to account for every single aspect of their business in the future.
Q4. Can you tell us a bit about your experience as a luxury travel marketing expert and cite reasons that you believe led to your phenomenal success?
A. Exploring unknown places, seeking new experiences, and finding inspiration in different cultures and traditions have always been my passion. I started publishing photos and videos of my travels on Instagram in 2014 and was quick to understand its potential. By 2017 I had become more involved in its marketing aspect. It was also the time when my photographs were becoming widely shared online and I was contacted for the first time on Instagram by the marketing manager of a hotel who invited me to his hotel. Then, my career started.
With time I have found that I have a natural ability to get along with people which has helped me to stand out. And because I empathize well with people from all backgrounds, I’m able to build up a good relationship with clients quickly, understanding what they want and how best to deliver that.
Q5. What kind of marketing trends are we most likely to see in 2021?
A. I think people will avoid being in travel groups and prefer either solo travel or travels with the family. Experts will do well to leverage that opportunity. People will also become more selective about their destination and perhaps, prefer domestic travel to international travel, in the beginning at least. We can also expect companies to create some very novel and interesting travel packages that cater to the “new normal.” Airlines will need to come up with more innovative ways to help consumers feel safe, stress-free, and entertained. All in all, 2021 will be a year of many firsts. Covid-19 undoubtedly put a dampener on everyone’s travel plans. But as Andrea’s insights reveal, there’s hope for the travel industry and the traveler too.