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SOS to my followers! The role of marketing communications in reinforcing online travel community value during times of crisis
Tourism Management Perspectives  (IF6.586),  Pub Date : 2021-06-16, DOI: 10.1016/j.tmp.2021.100843
Itziar Oltra González, Carmen Camarero, Rebeca San José Cabezudo

The context faced by online travel agencies (OTAs) during the pandemic is nothing short of dramatic. During the state of emergency, marketing communications have proven essential to maintain emotional ties with online communities even though sales have plummeted to zero. This study analyses the social network communication strategy during the worst days of the crisis of two OTAs specialized in selling flights and in distributing activities, excursions, and guided tours at the world's top tourist destinations. This qualitative study, based on the observation of online activity and personal interviews with marketing managers, shows how to respond to a crisis, maintain brand identity and strengthen the support of the online community. With the help of the community and co-creation processes, the sector has been able to reinvent itself and new services have emerged. From selling flights, one of the studied OTAs has now changed to planning trips around the regions.