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Humanising hotel brands during COVID-19 could encourage tourists to return

Hotels should build an emotional attachment with tourists when communicating during crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic if they are to encourage them to return, according to new research.The study finds that crisis communication emphasising shared emotional responses to risks enables tourists to humanise the hotel, which can subsequently create an emotional attachment. This attachment…

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Humanising hotel brands during COVID-19 could encourage tourists to return

Hotels should build an emotional attachment with tourists when communicating during crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic if they are to encourage them to return, according to new research.The study finds that crisis communication emphasising shared emotional responses to risks enables tourists to humanise the hotel, which can subsequently create an emotional attachment. This attachment can then increase tourists’ intentions to visit once the crisis ends, which is crucial if the industry is to recover.Researchers from the Universities of East Anglia (UEA), Bath and West of England say their findings challenge the approach that dominates many hotels’ current COVID-19 communication, which is to focus on cancellation policy and commitment to cleanliness.The tourism industry has been hugely affected by COVID-19, with lockdowns and travel bans introduced at the height of the pandemic – by late April coronavirus had spread to 185 countries, affecting millions of people and shutting down thousands of businesses.As a result, the study authors say hotel groups such as Four Seasons and Hilton all emphasised publicly their commitment to cleanliness to reduce tourist’s perceptions of the risk to health. However, they argue this approach only focuses on cognitive, or rational, aspects of risk perceptions and ignores emotional responses to risks.They add that their findings, published in the Annals of Tourism Research, provide unique insights on the impact of crisis communication during a sustained global crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic, whereas previous research on crisis and disaster management in tourism mainly focuses on recovery after the event.Dr Haiming Hang, from the University of Bath’s School of Management, said: “During COVID-19, fear and anxiety are the most common emotions among both tourists and the hotel sector. Tourists experience fear and anxiety towards the health risks of COVID-19, while the hotel sector feels fear and anxiety about the uncertainty it faces.”Dr Lukman Aroean, of UEA’s Norwich Business School, added: “Understandably hotels wish to reassure customers about the practical precautions they are taking. However, we argue that crisis communication focusing on shared emotions during the current coronavirus pandemic is very important, as it can establish emotional attachment with tourists better than rational statements can. This can be crucial for tourism recovery, because emotional attachment can increase tourists’ intentions to visit when the outbreak ends.“We show that humanising the brand underlines the impact of shared emotions on emotional attachment and demonstrates the key reason shared emotions can trigger emotional attachment.”The study involved 405 American participants whose travel plans were disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. The research team collected details about their travel plans (purpose and destination), and perceived severity, susceptibility and emotions (fear, anxiety, worry, unease) towards the coronavirus pandemic.Participants were then randomly allocated to one of the three experimental conditions. In all conditions they were exposed to the same experimental stimulus – a fictitious middle-market international hotel chain – to control participants’ pre-existing knowledge of real hotels.Participants in the control condition were not exposed to any crisis communication message. In the other two conditions, the hotel’s crisis communication focused on the same areas, commitment to cleanliness and cancelation policy, but they differed on why the hotel wanted to do this.In the cognitive (rational) condition, consistent with many hotels’ current response, the crisis communication explained the hotel’s commitment to cleanliness was to reduce health risk.In the shared emotions condition, the crisis communication explained the hotel’s commitment to cleanliness was because it shared the same emotions as tourists: the hotel employees and their families are susceptible to coronavirus just like everyone else. The uncertainty surrounding the pandemic also makes the hotel anxious and worried because it is hard for them to know how exactly they will be impacted or how bad things might get.‘Building emotional attachment during covid-19’, Haiming Hang, Lukman Aroean and Zhifeng Chen, is published in Annals of Tourism Research.

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SWISS Airlines adds frequencies from Domodedovo Airport to Zurich

Starting from November 23, SWISS Airlines has launched a third weekly flight on the route Zurich-Moscow (Domodedovo). SWISS Airlines performs the flight on Mondays, landing at 17:45 and departing at 18:35*.Passengers can also opt for the following flights:On Saturdays. It will land at Domodedovo at 17:45, departing to Zurich at 18:35*.On Fridays. It will land…

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SWISS Airlines adds frequencies from Domodedovo Airport to Zurich

Starting from November 23, SWISS Airlines has launched a third weekly flight on the route Zurich-Moscow (Domodedovo). SWISS Airlines performs the flight on Mondays, landing at 17:45 and departing at 18:35*.Passengers can also opt for the following flights:On Saturdays. It will land at Domodedovo at 17:45, departing to Zurich at 18:35*.On Fridays. It will land at Domodedovo at 12:15, departing to Zurich at 13:45*.Russia and Switzerland resumed flights on August 15.*All times are local (Moscow Time – UTC+04)

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For its fourth edition FITUR Festivals & Events expands to all type of cultural and sports events

One of the new features of the upcoming edition of FITUR 2021 International Tourism Fair that will focus on the recovery of the tourism industry, is the expansion of the FITUR Festivals section, which now and under the new name FITUR Festivals & Events will strengthen its content and professional appeal, by adding relevant sements that have an…

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For its fourth edition FITUR Festivals & Events expands to all type of cultural and sports events

One of the new features of the upcoming edition of FITUR 2021 International Tourism Fair that will focus on the recovery of the tourism industry, is the expansion of the FITUR Festivals section, which now and under the new name FITUR Festivals & Events will strengthen its content and professional appeal, by adding relevant sements that have an increasingly higher business potential. Thus, in addition to the live music festivals, FITUR Festivals & Events expands to host a wider range of proposals, such as cultural festivals -dance, theatre, opera, exhibitions, museums, etc.- as well as sports events and competitions, such as Formula 1, golf, regattas, soccer, Olympics, etc.The purpose of FITUR Festivals & Events is to provide a platform where all of the agents of this type of tourism can connect: destinations, transportation, hospitality and accommodation, tour operators and wholesalers, show and event organisers, ticketing companies, etc., within the framework of FITUR, the major international tourism industry fair organised by IFEMA that will be held, exceptionally in 2021, from the 19 to 23 May. FITUR Festivals & Events, with the collaboration of Asociacion de Promotores Musicales (APM) and Squarefer, will have an exhibition area, a B2B program with international and national purchasers, a setting for round tables and presentations of sector reports by exhibitors.

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77% of UK residents said they’re willing to consider the environment in their future holiday plans

Nearly half (49%) of UK residents said that the impact of COVID-19 has raised awareness about the impact holidays and travel have on the environment, recent research by iCarhireinsurance.com has revealed.  With dolphins returning to waterways of Venice and cities seeing pollution-free skies, 77% of Brits look to consider the environment in their future holiday plans.The…

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77% of UK residents said they’re willing to consider the environment in their future holiday plans

Nearly half (49%) of UK residents said that the impact of COVID-19 has raised awareness about the impact holidays and travel have on the environment, recent research by iCarhireinsurance.com has revealed.  With dolphins returning to waterways of Venice and cities seeing pollution-free skies, 77% of Brits look to consider the environment in their future holiday plans.The survey questioned 2,000 UK residents on their holiday habits and opinions about conscientious travel. It revealed that COVID and the impact of nationwide lockdowns has had a big influence on people’s attitudes towards the environment, and the effect the tourism industry has on it.  When questioned what has inspired them to consider the environment more when travelling for a holiday, the most common responses were COVID-related. 18% said they plan to be more eco-friendly after seeing wildlife recover in popular tourist destinations during lockdown, and 15% say the reduction in travel pollution during COVID has inspired them to be more environmentally friendly. A further 14% said that COVID has made them more appreciative of the environment.  Other influences, such as influential figures (9%), the media (8%), charities (7%), environmental protests (7%), social media (4%) and politicians (2%), were much less common. This new outlook brought about by COVID has led to many people in the UK saying they will be more eco-friendly when travelling in the future. One-quarter (25%) said they’re willing to holiday domestically, and a further 25% say they’ll even go on holiday less to reduce their environmental impact. A full breakdown is included below: (% who said they would be willing to do the following to lessen the environmental impact of their holiday) Be mindful of their energy use – 26% Holiday domestically – 25% Holiday less frequently – 25% Travel by public transport – 21% Use alternative transport to flying – 21% Not travel to destinations as far – 20% Pack lighter to reduce fuel usage – 19% Book eco-friendly accommodation – 17% Based on the responses, the UK as a collective would be willing to pay £3.36 billion to offset the carbon emissions of their holidays.While raising awareness of environmental issues is a positive to be taken from the pandemic, it’s also brought a number of challenges with it. 36% said COVID has made being environmentally friendly less of a priority to them and 15% said limited destinations have made it more difficult to be environmentally conscious when booking a holiday. With travel restrictions in place since March, 17% said their need for a holiday is simply more important to them than being environmentally friendly.  Ben Lynam, Head of Communications at theTravelFoundation commented on the research: “We are seeing a significant shift towards environmental consciousness as the pandemic accelerates a trend that was already gathering pace. Concern about the future, a slowing of pace and the need to find less crowded places have translated into demand for outdoor experiences and trips that have low impact, or ideally a positive impact on the environment. Smart businesses and destinations that intentionally respond to this shift will recover quicker and stronger.” 

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