Destinations Magazine – September/October 2020 - 17

VIRTUAL
TOURISM
SAVES THE DAY
When travel came to a virtual standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
ABA members turned to technology to help their businesses survive

By Heather Larson

IMYANIS/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM.

CREDIT

T

ravel and tourism came to an abrupt
halt in early March, when the
COVID-19 pandemic forced virtually all restaurants, hotels, casinos,
museums, theaters, and other attractions
and destinations to close their doors.
And it didn't take long for companies in
the blindsided industry to realize that if
they wanted customers to return when
the dust settled and they reopened, they
would need to find a way to both maintain
relationships with current customers and
attract future guests.
Connecting through virtual experiences
caught on with many American Bus
Association members that not only got to
flex their creative muscles, but also were
able to retain more staff who might otherwise have been furloughed.
One of the first innovators out of the
gate was William Hogg, delegate in charge
of travel trade and international markets
for Destination Sherbrooke in Quebec,
Canada, who offered familiarization

(FAM) tours to his connections during
the first week of April. From his provisional office in a bedroom, he used
Zoom, PowerPoint, and videos to show
off Sherbrooke.
"We'd heard nothing but bad news,
travel had stopped, and I wanted to raise
morale," says Hogg. "I presented major
attractions, how to get here from major
airports, and how I could help [viewers]
build their itineraries."
Within days after launching his virtual
FAM tours, Hogg received 50 registrations
for future sessions.
The pandemic has only heightened
innovation in the travel and tourism
industry, says Joe Veneto, chief experience officer at Veneto Collaboratory.
"People want to sample the adventure, not
just look at a brochure online," he says.
"It's easier to engage me as a potential
customer and motivate me to visit with a
virtual offering that's multidimensional
or interactive."
SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2020

\ DESTINATIONS 17



Destinations Magazine – September/October 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Destinations Magazine – September/October 2020

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Destinations Magazine – September/October 2020 - Cover2
Destinations Magazine – September/October 2020 - 1
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