Digital strategy in the travel industry case study

Josh Hall
Well, perfect segue, Adela because I did want to ask you about some practical examples of how you’ve helped businesses through this. You told me about one that was really timely because of COVID. And that was so interesting. And I think that’s probably where digital strategy now is more important than ever, because we’re still figuring out how to do things differently, no matter what industry it is. So can you explain that? We talked a little while ago, but do you want to bring that up on how you help that business pivot during COVID, which I found to be fascinating.

Adela Mei
So this was probably the beginning of last year. We had a session with a client I’ve worked with for a few years. And we had to really just get serious with some options because they work in the travel industry. 100% of their income came from running eco tours. You’ve seen the people who go abroad to help with sea turtle conservation or something like that, quite high end, conservation tour holidays.

We looked very, kind of coldly, at all the options. It was like, does the business close? Does the business bankrupt? Do we look for funding? Do we get a bank loan? And I’ve got their permission to talk about this by the way, I did check with them.

  • Do we sell shares?
  • Do we look for patronage?
  • Do we fundraise?

I mean, we looked at all of these things. And as we’re going through it was like, No, doesn’t feel right. No, doesn’t feel right. Keep going, keep going. And then something just came in and I said, well hold on a minute, the trips are impacted by travel restrictions. But the travel restrictions only apply to holidays. There must be other areas, because the world has to continue functioning, the world can’t just come to a halt.

What are the areas where travel will still be allowed. And it was in the research and education sector. I said right. What happens if you slightly change your services so they’re not holidays, they’re research expeditions. We’re not looking for holiday makers, we’re looking for students, post graduate students, who have to collect fieldwork for their dissertations. Travel was allowed. And then it was just this – that’s it.

And literally in that moment – decision made – all the messaging on the website, social media, the scheduling, the whole cascade, I’m sure you can it was like dum dum dum dum, dum, dum dum, right? This is what we’re going for. And we’re doing it 100% with gusto not negotiable. That’s what we’re doing.

And afterwards, it’s like, Whoa, what? How did that, you know, happen? And literally, within a couple of hours, it looked like well do you really want to bankrupt the business? And what’s really interesting is they had actually, right at the beginning, got a brand identity designer on board. And she crafted the brand identity, and the visual identity. So even though we pivoted the business and the strategy, the brand stayed exactly the same.

And that for me now, in my work, I’m always mindful of that. The brand doesn’t change. Your business trajectory might. Your services and products might. Your brand will never change.

Josh Hall
That’s a great point.

Adela Mei
So it wasn’t a massive rebrand. It didn’t cost anything. It was literally – we’re shifting, we’re shifting our target audience, we actually tripled the price of the trips, because it was a bigger thing. Then suddenly the path was really clear what we needed to do. And they are actually – so far – doing the best they’ve done since they set up which was five or six years ago. So that kicked something into motion to go, this isn’t working for whatever reason. Let’s make it work.

So yeah, that that was just amazing for everyone. And people asked how did you do that? Because we have other friends in the travel industry who’ve paused all their trips, they’ve just paused and gone to do something else. And they’re like, and you’re still like going right? Yeah, they’re still going.

Josh Hall
Proactive versus reactive. And it really does come all back to strategy. That’s such a great success story and case study Adela. I love that. Can’t wait to see that flushed out on your website because I think that is potentially the best look at how digital strategy works. When it comes to pivoting at least I mean, obviously like we said digital strategy could be planning things out for a new business or getting into your demographic or deciding what you want to roll with, but in that case, How valuable is that? Because their competitors, I’m sure a lot of them either went out of business or their income is frozen or whatever it is, but you helped them pivot, saw an opportunity, and it really all comes down to strategy, and hats off to them for being open to that, and for talking with you, and thank goodness they had you in their corner. That is so valuable. I just love that. I think that’s so cool.