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Communication Beyond the Pandemic Matteo Prato on Tourism Marketing at the times of Covid-19

Managing Director of Tourism Hub, a Branding, Strategy and Marketing Agency based in Turin, Italy, Matteo is a seasoned marketer and entrepreneur with a passion for communications. Because human interactions and drive are key components within this industry, and will make the difference in a post-pandemic scenario. 

After performing marketing and communication roles representing several Tourism Boards Matteo then  worked two years in the UAE as Director of Marketing and Promotions at Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, Government of Ras Al Khaimah. Today his firm, Tourism Hub, represents Tourism Australia in the Italian market and Matteo works as a consultant for several tourism clients including Saudi Tourism Authority.

In his interview, he shares with Be influenced his vision on how the impact of Covid-19 has reshaped the travel and tourism sector. 

What is the most challenging aspect of the industry you work in?  

Today’s scenario in travel and tourism is absolutely unprecedented. 174 countries territories and areas around the world have coronavirus-related travel restrictions in place and at least 7.2 billion people live in countries with some sort of travel bans. That’s 93% of the world’s population. This small numbers show the unchartered territory we work in the tourism sector.

While worldwide travel dramatically dropped to zero, promotion and communication have adapted promptly almost everywhere. Today more than ever marketing intelligence and strategic monitoring became the actions that we have to focus on to determine the strategy forward both short and medium term. Long term planning is almost an exercise requiring a crystal ball and more importantly ability to innovate and reshape what has been done in the past. 

For sure the common saying “we do it because we’ve always been doing it” will no longer apply and I think this could be also an opportunity for the whole sector.

What aspect of your profession do you enjoy the most? 

In the past years, we have abused a lot of the concept: “experiential”.

Experiential tourism became the quintessential unique selling proposition but in most of the cases we’ve put in shade one of the greatest assets we have in tourism which is the human component. 

The tourism industry worldwide is made of human beings with a concrete, solid, unparalleled, contagious and sincere passion. From Hotel General Managers to Travel Guides, from Sales and Marketing to flight crews, we’re all moved by a common passion which unites us and keeps us going.

This is the uniqueness of the our industry, this is the magic element which can materialise the “experiential” factor and which I enjoy the most in my professional career. This is the element we need to leverage on and which will play, in my opinion, a central role in the post-covid scenario.

Experiences without interaction are only solipsistic pleasures.

Who represents your biggest inspiration? 

My personal career in tourism is disseminated by inspirations, it goes along with what I was eluding above. I have worked for more than 42 different Tourism Boards, DMOs and RTOs around the Globe in the past 16 year and met incredible people that inspired me and shaped my approach and attitude. However, I can recognize that my creative and strategic approach have been inspired by the Australians, my vision and ambition from the UAE, and my flexibility and agility to improvise from the Italians.

How did your professional path start – Have you always dreamed/planned of be-ing who you are today or it just happened? 

I have started as a marketing and PR coordinator in a tourism representation Agency right after university by coincidence and without any expectations for my future. But then I immediately realized that I liked the sector and I enjoyed the tourism industry so I continued pursuing this career. Growing up in an agency helped me to have a 360 degrees vision and to always change my horizons and point of view. The experience that led me to a cultural change, widening my approach and growing professionally and individually happened in 2016, when I left Italy to join the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority as Director of marketing and communications. This experience helped me to perform in a very visionary and competitive environment. This gave me the strengths and the basis to then decide, two years later, to embark in my own entrepreneurial project and set up my consultancy firm Tourism Hub.

What helped you in achieving your goals? 

The Agency experience helped me a lot shaping my understanding of functions, roles and responsibilities and growing my strategic skills.  

I realized this understanding gave me flexibility, agility and ability to immediately visualise the complexity  of the environment we work in and to drive a focused approach.

On a personal note, I am driven by passion, ambition, vision and constant tendency to aim for the higher and better. 

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