While my own fair city of Asheville has been under a mask wearing mandate for the last month, many states and cities are just now beginning to implement similar restrictions within their jurisdictions. These requirements have added another element to the already fine line many destination marketing organizations and hospitality entities are walking right now–the one located between community health and commerce, marketing to local customers and visitors, and promoting responsible behavior as well as a consistent brand image.
There are plenty of reasons to wear the mask. What might not be as obvious is whether to communicate your city or state’s mask wearing policies to your customers and visitors before they arrive at your front door, via social media, advertising, email, and/or your website. I realize there may be a reluctance to do so–masks are a stark visual reminder that life has changed and that the party came to a screeching halt.
But with so many cities and states leaving it up to businesses to enforce the mask mandate (and with so much confusion around the differing levels of restrictions from city to city), the obligation to communicate via our marketing platforms has never been so clear. Beyond the obvious need to protect their health, we’re literally asking our frontline employees to act as nightclub bouncers for mask miscreants. This requirement, while necessary, puts an already beleaguered labor force in a difficult position. Most frontline staff, ably trained in providing hospitality and guest service, didn’t sign up to be the muscle at retailers and restaurants.
So we owe it to our employees–the people who deliver upon your brand every day–to do what we can to market the mask. And I believe there are many savvy travelers and customers out there who are looking for places where they feel safe and in control of their surroundings. Marketing the mask will help them make informed decisions about where to spend their time and money.