Coronavirus: Swords Travel unveils fresh marketing strategy to keep clients inspired

Wimbledon-based agency Swords Travel is sharing travel-related TV, movie and book recommendations with clients in a bid to keep them inspired during a looming lockdown.

The agency is working with website provider Net Effect on the new marketing strategy which will see newsletters filled with ideas to keep travel front of mind among Swords Travel’s customers.

BBC2’s Race Across the World 2020, book The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton and the New Zealand-themed film Hunt for the Wilderpeople by Taika Waititi all feature on the agency’s list of suggestions.

The newsletters form one part of Swords Travel’s new strategy, which also involves social media activity including Facebook Live recordings  and video calls with clients. It’s hoped these interactions will raise morale and boost inspiration amid the coronavirus crisis.

“We have to give Steve Rushton [from Net Effect] credit because he was the one who designed all of [the email content],” said agency co-founder Mark Swords.

“It shows us what our suppliers are doing in the really tough moments, because not everything has to have a physical, financial value – he’s done this off his own back to create something that we can use as agents to get through the next three months and steer through the tough times. 

“We used it straight away and sent it out on Saturday night straight after [our] coronavirus email to say, ‘Look, it is bad but here’s something positive’.”

Swords said the feedback from clients so far had been extremely positive, with many applauding the agency for gently keeping in touch and providing a distraction.

“We had clients replying saying ‘Mark, this is a breath of fresh air to read’ and ‘It’s so nice to see something different’ because people are actually starting to think that they can sit at home and watch Joanna Lumley on TV or read ravel books and start planning future trips again.”

Swords Travel’s social media plan will involve clients filming clips to highlight their favourite destinations.

The agency is asking clients to record a 30-second Whatsapp video of themselves talking about their favourite places, why they love it and their top tip when visiting.

The Swords team will then select one video a day to post on their Facebook page and Instagram and Twitter feeds.

“Over the next two weeks, we’re going to put out a really positive spin on things,” Swords said.

“People are going to be based from home, people aren’t going to be able to see each other face-to-face so we want to do stuff like that which is really going to engage them.”

And as an increasing number of businesses switch to remote working to contain the spread of coronavirus, Swords Travel will be introducing supplier-led interactive webinars and consultations too.

“Already this Friday we have a Zoom meeting with a client to discuss their trip to Kilimanjaro. Ian from Exodus is joining the meeting to really help and support with expert knowledge as he has done the trip,” Swords said.

“We are also in conversation with suppliers to host dual Facebook lives or webinars to get clients engaged whilst spending a lot of time at home – Sarah Revell from Rocky Mountaineer is our first to sign up.”

Admitting he had been inspired by Miles Morgan, who earlier this week revealed his agency Miles Morgan Travel would be helping customers over 70 with their supermarket shopping, Swords said it would be the proactive businesses who would “survive” the coronavirus crisis.

“We have been in a bit of a deep ditch but we’re now trying to sort ourselves out,” he said.

“Miles really inspired me and he’s right about the need to inform customers and keep them updated.

“The people who do that are going to be the ones who get though it and actually survive - because that’s what it’s about at the end of the day, it’s about surviving and making sure we are calm, looking after our clients and all the usual stuff that we do on a day to day basis. 

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s difficult because clients are emotional, they’re panicking and worried about their finances.

“Everybody’s in the same boat but we’re just trying to be as professional and as kind as possible.”

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