Truth Behind Travel

How to Communicate Effectively during Tragedies and Crisis

March 04, 2022 Dolores Semeraro Season 2 Episode 49
Truth Behind Travel
How to Communicate Effectively during Tragedies and Crisis
Show Notes Transcript

How can you communicate effectively and maintain a positive and trustworthy tone of voice in the tourism industry when times are tough and tragedy and crisis are dominating the headlines?

This episode is a reflection on how tourism and hospitality industry operators can choose to communicate effectively based on three key principles that would enable them to remain relevant, be sensible across their brand message.

The question is: do you get involved or you don't? We leave the politics out of the conversation on the podcast and we examine three principles that you can start exercising today across your brand message to ensure that your audience continues to relate to your brand and remain loyal.


About Dolores Semeraro

Hello! I am a Hospitality and Tourism Communication Expert and Speaker with 15 years of industry experience.
For the past 20 months, I have helped tourism organizations and travel professionals restore travel confidence and restart their tourism business.
I focus on tourism marketing strategies, hospitality digital marketing and communication, and tourism innovation in every keynote, training, or coaching session I deliver across the industry.
You can learn more about me by listening to my travel recovery podcast called ‘Truth Behind Travel’ where I interview tourism industry leaders and travel experts on the core topic of Travel Recovery.

FREE RESOURCE: Download the Top 10 Travel Behaviour Trends in 2022 report:


S2 E49 - How to Communicate Effectively during Tragedies and Crisis
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Thank you for joining me today on Truth Behind Travel Podcast, did you enjoy today’s episode? Every conversation brings you tips, values, and strategies to help you get started with your travel recovery journey.

If you enjoyed today’s epis

Dolores Semeraro is an internationally recognized tourism keynote speaker and trainer who has inspired thousands of people in the tourism industry to build a stronger, more sustainable, and more resilient future of travel.

In her keynotes, Dolores shares with her audience how to develop sustainable marketing thinking through her action-oriented thought process, which observes the interconnectivity of the stages in the travel product life cycle.

By applying this process, operators in the tourism, travel, and hospitality sectors can visibly enhance the longevity of their marketing strategies, effectively rendering them more sustainable in the long term for the well-being of all stakeholders involved.

Dolores is a passionate advocate for responsible travel, sustainability, and innovation. With her signature Mediterranean warmth and straightforwardness, she encourages audiences to challenge their "Business As Usual" status and strive for the improvement of the tourism industry and the well-being of all stakeholders.

Through her decades-long experience in the industry, she has motivated hoteliers and tourism professionals to take action, enhance their communication, and create a purposeful and innovative tourism ecosystem.

She also advocates for slow travel, exemplified by her extensive travels with her husband and beloved dog in their campervan. When not chronicling ...

Welcome back to Truth Behind Travel Podcast, back to a show dedicated to the world of tourism, travel and hospitality and its recovery. 

 I got to be honest with you, at the time of this recording, we are all following the events in Ukraine as they unfold. 

 On the podcast, I leave the politics out from a conversation that aims to support the tourism industry and its operators. 

 But I just couldn’t record an episode bypassing what is happening these days. As tragic as the events are proving to be, they are no longer something that is happening else where, but instead, we now are – wanting or not -  all aware and involved. 

 How are we involved? For the simple reason that just by simply opening up your social media feed, 

 You get to see, to know what’s happening, 

 you get to share your point of views, or the point of views of those you agree with. 

 And once you know, you are in. 

 that ‘involvement’ got me thinking: as a tourism business operator, how do you consciously and sensibly tackle the conversation? 

Do you avoid the subject and go on business as usual

 Or you take a stand, take action? 

 These are questions that certainly don’t have an easy answer, the tourism business needs everybody’s support to recover and as business operators, hoteliers, travel agents, travel consultants your question is: how do you convey your thoughts and your participation to what is happening without compromising your current and future business leads?

 Many in the tourism sphere have been quite vocal about their position, starting with the booking platform Kayak for example, turning its homepage signature orange logo into yellow and blue. But others have gone a step further than just reframing their logo. 

 Several cruise lines have removed the Russian Stopover – like St Petersburg – from their itineraries, Norwegian Cruise Line, Viking, and Carnival to name a few. Or Airbnb offering free temporary housing to up to 100,000 Ukrainians who fled the country. 

 On the other hand, the Russian Federal Tourism Agency has issued a statement recommending Russian tourism operators to stop sending Russian Tourists to countries that are applying sanctions to Russia. Russia is the sixth-highest international tourism expenditure worldwide with Turkey being their No. 1 tourism destination. in 2020 over 2.2 million Russians visited Turkey for tourism purposes. 

 There are currently no sanctions imposed by Turkey on Russia. 

 You see the dilemma here? To speak or not to speak? 

 When aligned with the human tragedy of a war, no marketing business talk in tourism stand a chance of surviving criticism, however I am 100% sure that many of the podcast listeners working in the travel and tourism industry have – at least once – came across a tragedy that was unrelated to their core business but was having a profound impact on their customers. 


At the time when tragedy occurs, these are three principles you can exercise when communicating with your customers:


Speak with Empathy 


In a world where life goes on no matter what happens between neighboring countries, 

Where the only way to escape the news and find peace is to switch off our devices, empathy in communication enables our brand to maintain relevancy, avoiding come across as detached or disengaged or uninterested. 


If you have business partners or customers affected by a tragedy, reach out to them with personal messages instead mainstreaming a recycled slogan. Customization and direct reaching shows a greater deal of empathy and consideration, making your brand message relatable and trustworthy. 


How to communicate with Empathy to those who are not yet your customers instead? To those browsing their feed, checking their emails? 


In the middle of the recent Paris Fashion Week, the message shared by the fashion giant Chanel stood out for me for being supportive as opposed to fear-inspired. Sahred on their social media feed at the time of engagement peak which is fashion week, the house of Chanel knew that it was not going to go unnoticed. 


What can we learn from this? 

-        work with your crisis management team on the core content

-        avoid blasting it all over your social media – which might just fuel fobia - but choose the most effective/engaging time and platform. 

-        Make it a team voice, not just a message from the CEO

Exercise Transparency 

 At a time when many are echoing recycled messages, it is too easy to lose track of the source of information. 

 when including facts and numbers across your brand message, make sure to check sources and even quote when possible. It will uphold transparency first and your audience will ease into engaging with your content instead of scrolling away.


Uphold Brand values

 Remember those? At a time when the global media is reporting a tragedy, we often an army of self-proclaimed defenders of the highest values, but the truth is, if you dig a little deeper, that those values were just a little more than a page on their website less than a week ago. 

 In this situations, not only your customers look at the way you behave but most importantly your team, your employees. Enabling them to refresh and embrace the brand values will guide them through a difficult time and help them think twice before sharing content on line that could also harm your brand. 

 So, to recap here with you: 

Speak with Empathy 

Exercise Transparency 

Uphold Brand values


At times like this, while recoding this episode, the definition of tragedy is fast assuming a whole different meaning, we are just getting back on our feet from a 2year-long pandemic that has seen 

countless countries closing borders, 

entire fleet of aircrafts grounded and 

travel restrictions affecting the movement of millions around the world.

 Today airspace of all the EU country members as well as US and Canada is banned for Russian aircrafts, and on the other hand, Russia has banned its own airspace to 36 Countries. According to IATA, Before the pandemic, Russia was the 11th largest market for air transport services in terms of passenger numbers, including its large domestic market, 

Today, the re-routing of the airtraffic alone will generate more gas emissions, fuel consumptions and further impact of the recovery of the aviation industry, with a heavy set-back for IATA recovery plan.  

 On the podcast we very often speak about how we can support the industry to recover, what are the best marketing strategies we can implement to move forward and build a better, stronger, truer tourism industry. 

 I to be completely honest with you, days like this, are a struggle. I wont paint it pink when it’s not. The dynamic behind a conflict are complex, and at a time when we should be rolling up our sleeves to really step into recovery mode, we instead find ourselves in the position to understand a new tragedy. A war is tragedy, and there are no winners, only suffering. 

So I look for ways to help, to support those wanting to build a better tourism industry and I go further into understanding what truly matters to today’s travelers and how you can better understand them to develop your brand and recovery strategy and become the go-to brand of your customer’s niche. 


On my website you will find easy access to all my free resources including a sneak peek into my latest Tourism Resilience Training Program designed for tourism, travel and hospitality enterprises wanting to re-align their company strategy to the current events and needs of their customers, deep dive into the digitalization of the travel industry and develop a traveler-centric mindset first. 


Go to recovery training 


You can also request a demo of the training program, just head over the contact page and email me. 


Thank you for being part of this journey to travel recovery, today I wanted to speak with empathy, I wanted to exercise transparency and remind myself of my brand values and if I have inspired you to do the same, then I am happy. But you know what would me make me even happier? That you – after listening to this episode – would take a moment to share it with your network, whether private or professional, if you know that there is someone out there that needs to hear this, send them over the link. 


Thank you once again and see you soon for another episode of truth behind travel podcast.