9 Ways To Connect While Apart During COVID-19

When the coronavirus (COVID-19) first swept through the United States, having to shelter in place to stop the spread didn’t seem so bad. Being isolated at home for a bit sounded peaceful, cozy even. But now that you’ve binged-watched Netflix until you can binge no more, gotten over the joy of placing that last jigsaw in your 1,000-piece puzzle and lost your drive to win family game nights, what do you do next? How do you move forward when home sweet home has gone stale, you long to see new faces and flattening the curve is crushing your social spirit? We know it’s hard to be away from family, friends and even coworkers right now. To show our support and help you avoid the mental and physical effects social isolation can cause, check out these 9 ways to connect while apart during COVID-19: How To Overcome Stress 1.       Get active and outside. Commune with nature, if possible. Wander through your neighborhood, go on a walk or a run with a friend (but keep your distance to at least 6 feet apart) or enjoy a city stroll and watch how a little exercise and sunshine can help you kick stress to the curb. 2.       Find inner peace. No matter how chaotic the world is around you, meditate regularly to quiet your mind. Start where you are and with what you have. There’s no right or wrong way to go about it; you can only gain wonderful benefits. According to Healthline, meditation can improve anxiety, stress, memory, focus and more. 3.       Give thanks. It’s hard to adjust to the new normal when you wistfully want the old normal back. But to adapt and benefit, focus on being grateful for what you have. Try writing in a gratitude journal at least a few days a week. Or before you drift off to sleep each night, think of three things you’re grateful for each day. This can help shift your mindset from doom and gloom to shiny and happy. Another option is to remember all the beauty life still has to offer. Check out these 1000 awesome things like #995 Finding Money You Didn’t Know You Lost, #973 Sleeping in New Bed Sheets and #947 Neighbors With Pools. Not into listicles? That’s OK; you can watch TED talks on the topic to reclaim joy in your preferred medium. How To Shake Loneliness 4.       Encourage communication. Go high tech and embrace video calls by getting your family and friends up to speed on all the latest technologies. Check out free apps that can pull you together, such as Google Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp. Or if being in front of the camera isn’t your idea of fun, call or text someone you adore for a chat. Any contact or connection is good for the soul. 5.       Be social. If you’re all dressed up with nowhere to go, here are some ideas to mentally go places when you have to stay at home but are climbing the walls. With so many virtual experiences available during lockdown, your social calendar will fill up quickly. Go to the theatre, wander through a museum, join a book club, take an art class or even hit a comedy club – all without ever leaving your house! The choices are endless now, and jumping into virtual activities is a great way to interact with others, reduce anxiety, find your flow and still feel out and about while doing what’s best right now, staying home to keep you and everyone safe. 6.    Be a helper. Doing good not only helps others but helps yourself. When you feel bad, get a quick mood boost by doing nice things for others. For example, smile and interact with people you meet (from afar) when you go for your daily walk. Or consider picking up groceries for elderly neighbors, donating to food banks or paying it forward when you hit the drive-thru. Being a helper actually helps you find meaning, purpose and better well-being. 7.    Get together. Go beyond an occasional virtual happy hour and create an online social or work group. Host a video lunch to feel like you’re eating or chatting together, almost like normal. Or think about hosting a video call with family, friends or colleagues to relax, unwind and enjoy some fun and games. Try playing Jackbox Games online during a video call. Our Goodway marketing team recently tried this for a little team bonding. It went quite smoothly over Zoom and was a real hit with the whole team! Looking for something more interactive and techy? Check out AirConsole to play quick video games, using your phone as your gamepad. How To Relieve Boredom 8.       Become whom you want to be. You have the power to turn into a person you don’t even recognize once the pandemic is over. How about a Spanish-speaking, banjo-playing, speed-reading magician? Go for it! Now’s the time to gain some new knowledge and pick up all the hobbies you never had time for before. Or get a free education on most anything you want to learn on YouTube. Give a new language a go with Duolingo. Check out Udemy or Skillshare to polish or gain new skills. Or go the Ivy League route, with these free courses. If all else fails and you’re STILL BORED, press the bored button. When you do, you’ll be whisked off to one of hundreds of websites, specifically chosen to NOT bore you to tears! How To Feel Better 9.       Find the humor. If you’re in a funk or forget what it feels like to laugh, get doses of good medicine by watching these funny sketches across the internet. Hear a song you’ll want to play over and over that hilariously explains the pains of online teaching and learning. Jam out to this catchy quarantine parody. Or get taken back to what your mindset was like a few short months ago. Or banish the blues in a whole new way with Open Puppies. Hit the space bar each time, and a new puppy GIF will appear! But if you’re simply not a dog person, try Attack of the Cute and get a variety of cute animals starring in their own photos, posts and videos. Our hopes are that everyone remains physically and mentally healthy by continuing to practice social distancing. For updates on the coronavirus and tips on staying healthy, please visit cdc.gov/covid19. We hope these tips and resources help you do what’s best: stay socially connected but physically apart during COVID-19 to #flattenthecurve. We are resilient. We are strong. And we can fight and overcome COVID-19. But let’s not do it alone; let’s do it in the only way we know we can – together. This PSA was brought to you by Goodway Cares through the donation of select publishers.

Goodway Group does not endorse any of the activities or vendors described or mentioned here as explained in these terms of use

How COVID-19 Is Impacting Theme Parks

Theme parks are usually the happiest places on earth. Now that happiness has been put on hold. In the last several weeks, the coronavirus (COVID-19) has forced U.S. theme park giants to shut their gates, suspend operations and pause construction on all new rides and attractions. But operators are working diligently during this downtime to figure out just how to reopen safely, and what safety and wellness measures to take when they do. Read on to understand how COVID-19 is impacting theme parks today and five ways theme park marketers can plan now to reach customers and new audiences in the future. Reading Consumers’ Minds The biggest question on theme park marketers’ minds amid the pandemic must be, What are people thinking? To find out, Performance Research, a leading sports and event research and consulting firm, decided to team up with national online sampling partner Full Circle Research Co. on the Impact of COVID-19 on Live Events Study. When they asked consumers what would be top of mind for them when returning to events, here’s what they found: COVID-19-impacting-theme-park-chart Venue cleanliness and sanitation as well as general health safety made the top of the list. So what hygiene precautions are theme park operators considering before welcoming guests again? Checking temperatures before allowing guests to enter the park and ensuring social distancing while guests wait in line for rides are two. “One of the things that we’re discussing already is that in order to return to some semblance of normal, people will have to feel comfortable that they’re safe,” said Disney’s Executive Chairman, Bob Iger. “Just as we now do bag checks for everybody that goes into our parks, it could be that at some point we add a component of that that takes people’s temperatures, as a for-instance.” Jed Pearsall, founder of Performance Research, said, “The results of this study, conducted in what may be the height of anxiety regarding the pandemic, show that eventgoers will come back, albeit with reservations and a limited sense of urgency, “ he said. “When considering all the barriers to event attendance, perhaps nothing can be more personal and emotional than health and safety.” Understanding How Customers Think Six Flags also did a little recent research of its own. It sent a survey to its customers asking what their COVID-19 concerns were and how they thought Six Flags should respond to the pandemic. This was a natural approach for the theme park. In a statement provided to Business Insider on the survey, Six Flags shared, “We are a guest-focused company. The opinions and sentiments of our guests matter greatly to us.” Living in the Now, Focusing on the Future Since the theme park industry is dealing with a slew of unknowns due to COVID-19, it’s easy to see how you could get stuck in the now. But here are five ways you can start planning for how to connect with customers and new audiences in the future:

  1. Ensure actions speak louder than words. Put health-related precautions in place to make your guests feel safe. Build a go-to-market strategy that will showcase your careful planning and all the work you’ve done to ensure guest wellness and safety. Reach out to the right customers and prospects and work at building emotional connections over achieving better campaign performance or more sales. When life returns to normal, people will remember how brands made them feel during a time of crisis.
  2. Show less is more. Once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has deemed theme parks safe again, customers will still be trepidatious about gathering in large groups. Ease their anxiety by simplifying online offerings and streamlining the digital user experience, which can both help reduce confusion and online bounce rates as users weigh their options.
  3. Rely on contactless communication. In the new era of social distancing, get mobile technology on your side. Enhance your mobile in-app experience so your customers can make purchases, receive alerts, get real-time notifications, access park maps and more. Consider even letting guests scan their phone to enter the park.
  4. Change strategy. With TV upfronts delayed, sports canceled and a recession looming, ensure your marketing strategy is precise. Understand consumer sentiment shifts, spending habits and media consumption to make every dollar count. This knowledge can help you reach the right audiences with the right messages. And to guide people back to your brand and to your park, be flexible and willing to change your strategy often to keep up with changing consumer behavior.
  5. Make first-party data your first priority. Evaluate and update your first-party data. Break down any data siloes. Consolidate your customer data so it’s insightful, actionable and measurable. Be sure to model audiences and gain insight into your highest lifetime value customers to get a strong indication of just whom to reach when your park can reopen.

For more industry-specific info and recommendations to combat COVID-19, sign up for our free newsletter. Or reach out to us. We can help you feel prepared and ready for that happy day – when your theme park gates can swing open again, new attractions can launch again, and you can again get back to business – the business of making magic.

How COVID-19 Is Affecting Travel and Tourism

Bags packed and ready to travel, someday. But for now, with coronavirus (COVID-19) sweeping the country and strict shelter-in-place restrictions in effect, people on the move have had to stay in and embrace being homebodies. Here’s a look at how COVID-19 is affecting travel and tourism today and the three areas travel industry marketers can work on now to positively impact results later. How the Travel and Tourism Industry Has Had To Change Course COVID-19 has not only threatened our health but also the health of the travel and tourism industry. In fact, more than 50% of U.S. adults have canceled travel plans for the next few months in response to COVID-19. With these travel plans either postponed or canceled, the entire industry – from hotels to airlines to tourist attractions – has had to pay a high price. In its “The Economic Impact of the Coronavirus Due to Travel Losses,” Oxford Economics estimates this high price at a $355B deficit, forcing marketers to completely shift priorities on their marketing road map. COVID-19-Impact-Travel-Plans-Chart Bookings at hotels and airlines are down and decreasing, but history tells us this is likely temporary. During the 2008-2009 great recession, certain public travel companies were trading at all-time lows. But coming out of that period, according to Yahoo Finance, those same companies saw rebounds of 500% within six months. Though COVID-19 is a health crisis, not an economic one, consumer behavior will still likely follow this pattern once we get a handle on this virus: after a big decrease, a big rebound. How Travelers Are Feeling Now GlobalWebIndex recently published a survey detailing what it would take to persuade users in the United Kingdom and United States to book travel during the coronavirus outbreak, and here’s what they found: COVID-19-Impact-Travel-Habits-Chart Just when the airline, hotel and hospitality industries can re-engage customers to drive bookings and revenue is unknown at this time. But if you’re a travel and tourism brand wishing to take advantage of new market share in the future, now’s the time  to plan and prepare how you will most efficiently and effectively reach customers, when you can. How To Prepare Your Travel and Tourism Brand Today for Tomorrow To start planning and laying your brand’s groundwork today for the greatest impact tomorrow, here are our digital advertising pros’ top tips:

  • Practice Good Customer Data Hygiene: Sort out all the customer data you own. Organize and strategize how to best use it now. Then model audiences to gain insight into your customers’ highest lifetime value. This will give you a strong point of view on who to reach first once the travel and tourism industry can resume normal marketing efforts.
  • Find the Human Connections: People remember how brands make them feel. Take the time to study and understand the emotional connections you already have with your customers. From these insights, redefine your current marketing communication and advertising efforts.
  • Develop a Smart Re-engagement Strategy: According to eMarketer, 47% of travelers with canceled trips plan to rebook domestically. As important as it is to find net-new customers, the first step is to go after those people who are already in-market. Start collecting data on those individuals who have canceled or postponed their trips. Taking this tack at the start will help you achieve easy wins, find your footing and bounce back to business as usual, just as soon as it’s possible.

Though you’re navigating through unprecedented times and unchartered territory, we can help you find your way to your new normal. We’ve helped brands large and small to harness the customer data they own, map where to take their brand next and find new ways to creatively connect with and engage their loyal customers and new prospects into lasting relationships. Looking for a lighter touch? Sign up for our newsletter and be the first to receive up-to-the-minute COVID-19 digital advertising best practices, industry trends and the expertise you need right now. So when the time is right, you can be ready – to help people fly again, enjoy a home away from home again – and once again, see the sights they’ve been longing to see.

How COVID-19 Is Impacting the Restaurant Industry

Table for one has fast become table for none for the foreseeable future. As the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis rages on, all types of restaurants have had to abruptly close their dining rooms and quickly open up new ways of doing business to survive, protect their employees and serve their customers’ rapidly shifting needs. Find out how COVID-19 is impacting the restaurant industry and the three areas marketers should focus on now to support their restaurant brand.

How Times Have Changed for the Restaurant Industry

Watching the restaurant industry fall on hard times due to the pandemic is hard to come to grips with considering a few short weeks ago, the $899B industry contributed 4% to the United States’ GDP. Consumers typically spent close to 50% of their monthly food budget on dining out until COVID-19 forced them to break the habit. With the U.S. government’s shelter in place restrictions now in effect, consumer behavior has had to change seemingly overnight. In fact, in just three short weeks, nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults have decreased how often they eat out as a result of COVID-19.

COVID19-Impact-Dining-Habits-Chart

With this decline, the U.S. economy and restaurants’ bottom lines understandably have taken big hits. And restaurant workers and their families have absorbed some hard blows: In fact, research firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported over 600 food service industry jobs were cut due to the pandemic, and 7.4M jobs in the sector could soon be cut or impacted severely.

How the Restaurant Industry Continues to Serve Their Customers

Fast, casual and fine dining restaurants everywhere are quickly rallying now with a fighting spirit in the wake of COVID-19 – fully shifting their businesses to accommodate takeout and delivery. Some establishments have turned to food delivery services like Caviar, DoorDash and Seamless to help meet current consumer demand. Yet the trades are predicting this trend will steadily decline too, as individuals become more wary of food handling risks in the midst of a pandemic. “There’s no making money right now,” says Ben Walker, VP of sales and marketing at Baldor Specialty Foods. “It’s redefining our role to keep the food supply running – from farmer to consumer.”

Wholesale suppliers and restaurants are indeed redefining their role right now, and doing so on the fly. Food supply wholesalers, who typically serve restaurants and schools, have pivoted to selling essential items to consumers now that some grocery store shelves stand empty. And restaurants are taking care of their own and their customers, providing meals for their employees and families and selling chilled ready-made meals, fruits, vegetables and other provisions, such as cleaning products and toilet paper.

How To Prepare Your Restaurant Brand for a Brighter Future

What should you be doing now to best support your restaurant brand and fortify it for the future? Our digital advertising experts recommend marketers focus on these three areas:

  • Be Timely and Responsive: If you change your restaurant services, menus or hours, keep your customers informed. Update your website, social media and directories. (Surprisingly, many restaurants haven’t done this yet.) Ensure your phone lines can handle high-volume calls and quickly train your staff to seamlessly carry out new processes to keep your customers happy and satisfied. Now’s the time to innovate. Meet and serve your customers and communities where they are now. Consider offering free meals to essential workers and first responders, special meal deals to go, “assemble at home” meal kits or gift cards at a discount – whatever you can do to lend a hand.
  • Prioritize Health and Safety: Establish safety measures and mention them at the forefront of your marketing efforts to ease customers’ fears. Service-minded messages, such as curbside pickup, contactless delivery or pay as you can, can go a long way in creating customers for life once the lockdown ends and the restaurant industry rebounds.
  • Focus on Your First-Party Data: Gather and organize the data you own and examine it carefully to glean new insights. Find out who your best customers are and then connect with them regularly. Model new audiences from your own customer data to extend your reach for the biggest gain.

If you retool your business and act on your customer data insights, you can engage and grow your audience despite these turbulent times. And as you do, remember we’re here to offer our full support. Or sign up for our newsletter, and be the first to receive COVID-19 digital advertising best practices, industry trends and the knowledge you need to look ahead and carve your own new path.