What are going to be the destinations’ priorities in the coming months?

How can they support one another during this global crisis? How are they dealing with the impact of Covid-19?

The purpose of “Feeling the Pulse” is to answer all these questions with the collection of regenerative stories and interviews of the GDS – Index Destinations. The first one we are proud to share comes from Helsinki, with an interview to Leena Lassila, Director, Global Sales at Helsinki Marketing.

Here is the full interview.

If you feel more comfortable reading, you can find the interview transcript below.

What is the resilience strategy of Helsinki?

“We have made plans for both agile and flexible operations during the crisis and, for a long-term vision, in adapting to the changing environment after the crisis. We see how important it is to separate these two and we have built different project groups or task forces to analyse plans and execute these measures.

As to our action plan, we are concentrating on local support by:

  • supporting the city in communication resources,
  • supporting the local businesses by highlighting the innovative best practices,
  • targeting myhelsinki’s content to local audiences and
  • concentrating digital and virtual services and experience.

We have started weekly webinars with the industry and we have a platform for our network to discuss about different topics. In leisure travel it’s very uncertain and although people might be in dreaming and planning mode in their homes, they’re hesitant in booking. That’s why we are trying to identify new opportunities and adapt accordingly, in addition to starting domestic marketing and marketing for staycations to locals. We are very lucky that we have been developing  our virtual Helsinki for a couple of years already, not just because of the crisis. “

How successful have your webinars been?

“This week, we have had around 100 participant in our seminars.”

What are the special steps you are taking to reboot tourism?

“First of all, we need to have a close interaction with our local stakeholders, to stay on pulse? and to clarify the image of the future. For example, from the airlines we hear that it might take until the beginning of next year or even longer to get back to normal operations, so nobody really knows what the new normal is going to be. We are following very closely the trends in changing consumer behaviour, we need to analyse them and build scenarios. Travel will change, but nobody really knows how. We need to rethink our role as a destination marketing organization at the moment, as well as find the best ways to support the future growth.

We think sustainability is something we shouldn’t forget in this process.

It’s the challenge that we need to take and it still keeps the local stakeholders motivated and engaged in sustainability during this difficult time. Regarding the international visitors, we are quite optimistic: we have still coming conferences and other events that were originally planned or postponed until autumn. We have bids for this year under process for the coming years. In addition, we are now focusing on virtual meetings and working on Helsinki’s method for meetings and events and we’ll certainly give some tools on how to organise meaningful meetings online.

To sum this up, I would say that we are now working on immediate help for the industry but, at the same time, looking over the crisis and try to identify a new normal.”

If you are a GDS-Index Destination and there are any good response initiatives to tackle the impacts of the pandemic that you have seen or participated in, please let us know so we can ensure you get an opportunity to share.