How the SARS-CoV-2 virus changed the communication of the tourism sector


The coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented event in human history. Never before has one virus spread to practically all parts of the world and according to prof Zoran Klarić, PhD, from the Institute of Tourism, many previous viruses have been stopped by hot summer weather. The COVID-19 virus is an absolute exception in this regard, given that it has also affected tropical countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Ecuador. When you look at the numbers, the Republic of Croatia was not spared either, so many employees in tourism sector had to adapt to the new situation as quickly as possible.

Changing a well-known routine

Every employee in the tourism sector knows the postulates of behavior towards his guests very well – kind greetings on arrival, handling and showing the accommodation facility (especially if it is a private accommodation) as well as very frequent welcome gifts. Hotels, camps and resorts also felt the blow, given that this year the usually very busy Easter passed without tourists coming from other countries and a good part of the facilities were not even open in that period. With the arrival of the tourist season 2020, all previous rules actually changed and, according to all recommendations, contact with guests needed to be reduced to a minimum. Workers in catering and service facilities must work wearing masks, and nightclubs are allowed to work until midnight to minimize the possibility of virus transmission. Protective glass has become indispensable at receptions and all other more frequent places in buildings and a disinfectant can now be found at the entrance to each room.

How did individuals adapt to the new situation?

Since the beginning of the tourist season the hotel company Jadran d.d., based in Crikvenica has adapted its communication according to the situation. Their communication on all social networks has been directed towards the so-called domestic guests and guests of neighboring countries living relatively close. Facebook has imposed itself as the primary social network through which all the necessary information was communicated, while posts on Instagram were more general and with simple descriptions that were not affected at all by the pandemic situation.

As for Facebook, the announcements in June and July were quite different than those in August precisely due to the more unfavourable situation with the COVID-19 virus in Croatia. Communication in June and July abounded with calls for action suggesting both the availability of facilities and their proximity. On the other hand, in August, almost every announcement referred to the care of the entire staff for the health of guests, with the copy saying “Because we are responsible for the health of each guest and therefore we keep records of use of pool towels and disinfection of deck chairs after each guest” and the announcements themselves were much more informative. The number of monthly posts on social networks has enabled potential guests to communicate all key information: care, safety and availability which greatly affects how a potential guest will experience a particular facility.

It turned out that this way of informing how the facilities work reassures the guests and it is the reason why they will decide to book their vacation. Figures also testify to the success of the communication strategy. The number of visits to the official website has increased by as much as 90% compared to the year before, while the number of reservations and inquiries via social networks has also seen an increase.