Smoky Mountain Coronavirus Updates & Data - Response

Hello from your friends at IMEG. We wanted to gather data for you and add some value with suggestions and recommendations for handling the coronavirus situation with guests who stay with you and, in the vacation rental space, the owners you manage properties for. We have not seen anything that has had much of an impact on our market since 2016 with the fires in Gatlinburg. We played an instrumental part with our market and local government to help and add value in that time and we wanted to do the same in this time of need.

Please keep this universal law in mind as we have to do all we can to counterbalance the public perception and offset the dramatization of the media.

The Law of Cause and Effect states that whatever you send into the universe comes back. Action and Reaction are equal and opposite.

Every cause has its effect; every effect, its cause. There’s no such thing as chance.

By focusing on the Cause, the Effect will automatically take care of itself. The cause is the media sensationalizing and dramatizing this virus like they do everything, so we have to be a force to counterbalance that and give people factual data that is not sensationalized for viewership.

Ralph Waldo Emerson called this Law “The Law of Laws.” It’s powerful. You get back what you put out. It is like a boomerang. You throw it out and it comes back. We need to throw facts, not a sensationalized agenda, like the media. You will see some solid facts below.

If you put a negative out, you will get a negative back. Also, when you put a positive out you will get a positive back, maybe not straight away, but it will come. It’s the Law of the Universe. We live and work in a beautiful area that is safe and relaxing and this could be a huge opportunity for our area if we take the right actions. Perception is everything and we have a voice to help.

Best Practices

This is just advice, but here are our best practices from a marketing and human psychology standpoint. Don’t agree to cancellations unless the traveler is affected by something like a federal travel ban. Take the approach of “We are renting rooms and there isn’t an outbreak inside our units or many of our towns and attractions.” If they want to cancel, perhaps open the room to rebook and refund them anything that isn’t a loss to you or the owner.

What to Say

Publish neutral to positive data updates from credible sources and limit your own opinions.

Use social proof when you can. Allowing people to tell your actual story is better than you telling it.

Don’t stir the pot with guests or owners by trying to oversell your activities. Just stay neutral and diligent, but assure everyone that there is nothing major happening locally when they ask.

What is potentially good about this?

It is likely that drive-to resort markets could see an increase in activity since urban, international & flight based travel is restricted. Be prepared for extra volume.

Who is most at risk in the travel industry?

  • Corporate Travel
  • Group Travel
  • Fly-To Destinations

We may have some businesses close, like some attractions. If this happens, there is still so much to do in the area outdoors and in your hotels and cabins. Drive that home. Talk about what is open and do not focus or promote internally or externally what has been closed. If you hear, “I heard X is closed,” move directly into “This is what is open and the benefits.”

Data Inforgraph

Content for Consumer Example

Sample email or announcement to use and edit for your business:

We want to address the COVID-19 Coronavirus issue and what you can expect when visiting the Smoky Mountains. We have seen more people coming to our area than normal because we are a safe drive-to destination. Most people travel 3-5 hours to visit the beautiful Smoky Mountains.

While we understand the media has done all it can to scare people from traveling, we want to reassure you that we are a safe destination. The data you are seeing online is so easily skewed, so we wanted to present you with the facts:

Problem:
COVID-19 is less contagious than the flu. The CDC states that 35 million people had the flu in 2018-2019. Aprox. 34,000 people die annually from the normal flu. Right now, there are just over 1,200 cases on COVID-19 in the USA. 18 in Tennessee. 0 cases in the Smoky Mountains.

Solution:
Staying in a relaxing cabin or hotel in the Smoky Mountains is a great way to relax and get away from all the media and chaos while staying safe. When you visit this area, you can stay as private as you wish or get out in nature and have some adventure or fun. All attractions are open as usual waiting to give you a time away to relax and unwind.

Who should plan to travel at a later time:
You may want to plan for a later date or reschedule your travel if you are: over the age of 70 with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, abnormally high blood pressure or cancer.

Here’s the facts:

  • Chances of getting the flu are less 5-20%
  • Chances of getting COVID-19 are less than .000003%
  • Chances of you needing a break from the media’s drama and needing to visit to one of the most beautiful and peaceful places on earth = 100%.

We welcome you to the Smoky Mountains to enjoy the beauty of our area and look forward to hosting you in our wonderful area. We are fully operational and a beautiful as ever.

Your Friends,

The Smoky Mountains

Here are some micro-content pieces for you to share on social media or anywhere you see fit.

Corona Virus Smoky Mountains
Corona Virus Smoky Mountains
Corona Virus Smoky Mountains

Example Letter to Homeowners

Dear Valued Homeowner,  

During this time, please know that we are monitoring and adhering to all guidelines given by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  It is our goal to mitigate issues resulting from the virus. We plan to be sensitive to guests, clear in our communication, thorough in cleaning and communicative with you throughout this process.

Regarding Guests and Cancellations:

 We intend to hold to our standard cancellation policy.  {{Insert your standard cancellation policy here}}

Our ultimate goal with any cancellation is to re-book with a new guest. 

Our guest services team is fielding calls all day in response to the virus. Please keep these hardworking and humble workers in your thoughts they are doing a great job and need support. 

Booking Trends:

The Smoky Mountains in general is a drive-to destination – with many of our guests traveling within a 3-5 hour radius of our area. We are not held to flight restrictions or precautions by guests who use flight as a mode of vacation travel. We have seen the most impacted travel situations are international travel and business travel with fly-to destinations. So, this could be an opportunity for us and we are working that angle. 

In the last few days, the market and our company is still booking at a strong pace for the year and even the month. Bookings are coming in as expected.  With flight, travel and cruise cancellations we are experiencing a healthy influx for interested guests. We hope this continues and we will provide updates accordingly. 

We are taking action: 

We believe it is likely that our industry will experience some supply constraints due to manufacturing in China. We are staying ahead of these constraints by stocking up on the following (not conclusive):

  • Toilet Paper
  • Paper Towels
  • Soaps and shampoos
  • Detergent
  • Cleaning Chemicals
  • Laundry Chemicals

As always, we are planning to be prepared for anything and everything. We are praying for the best, but we are prepared for whatever life hands us. 

Conclusion: 

 We will continuously monitor the situation and will communicate any update to each of you as we have new information available.

We are thankful for our owners and guests who are continuing to safely travel to our amazing place in the beautiful Smoky Mountains. 

Have a great day! 

 Your Owner Relations Team

Here to help!

As always, we are here to serve and support the Smoky Mountain market. If we can do anything to help and serve you, please let us know.