So, what do you do if you if you have a Destination Marketing Campaign in the pipeline, and then it’s announced that travel is not at all possible?

That was the dilemma faced by our client, Destination Southern Highlands (DSH), for their annual Pie Time campaign. Each year the Highlands become the Southern Pie-lands as the region welcomes visitors for a month-long series of mouth-watering pie themed festivals, events, activities and tours – not to mention the tasty pies themselves!

Having previously won two Australian Tourism Awards for their innovative Destination Marketing Campaigns, the DSH team were no stranger to pulling together effective campaigns that pie-light the region’s most tasty assets, and we once again worked with them to prepare another award-winning recipe.

But then a global pandemic became the unwanted ingredient of 2020. The recipe was ruined.

As the uncertainty around Covid-19 became even more pronounced with social distancing measures in place, the shutdown of restaurants, cafes and bars across NSW, and the ban on travel into regional areas, Pie Time 2020 almost didn’t happen at all.

With just six weeks lead time, we adapted and determined that 2020 would be the year of a virtual Pie Time – Pie Time in pie-solation.

With the inability of pie makers, bakers, restaurants and tour operators to physically host events, we worked hard with DSH to bring Pie Time to the people. Pie Time became a revised ‘virtual’ Pie Time, an awareness-raising campaign which aimed to keep the Pie Time brand in-market at a time when many other events and festivals were completely shutting down.

The campaign aimed to keep pies top of mind, keep the pie conversations going, create virtual pie experiences and launch the inaugural Australia’s National Pie Day on virtual platforms.

Together we built an innovative tourism industry response to Covid-19, and kept people salivating over Southern Highlands’ pies so that when travel did indeed restart (coincidentally on 1st June, the same day Pie Time started and the first Australia’s National Pie Day) we had an audience ready to hit the Highlands for their favourite pies.

And they have done so in droves, with a renewed interest in the Southern Highlands Pie Trail and long (socially distanced) queues at the Highlands’ best bakeries.

We are all hoping that Australia has seen the worst of the Covid-19 crisis, but no one knows exactly what the future holds. So, our tops tips for anyone planning and strategising for future Destination Marketing Campaigns under the current climate:

  • Think outside the box.
  • Be flexible and adaptable.
  • Always have a back-up plan for the ‘what ifs’.
  • Move quickly.
  • Think of new and virtual ways to keep your brand in the marketplace, don’t disappear completely.
  • Communicate with your audiences – be honest with timely communications.

If you’d like ideas for your own effective Marketing Campaigns, we are always here to help.