Covid Can’t Catch We Are Lao in 2020

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Covid Can’t Catch We Are Lao in 2020

“Something is better than nothing”

- Ancient Chinese Proverb

by Bernie Rosenbloom

Covid clobbered tourism and hospitality coffers in 2020. All sizes of businesses took big hits. Plenty shuttered their doors. Others toughed it out and found something to do. WeAreLao joined them.

Laos Updates New Tourism 2012

Doing nothing felt naked. Netflix, news, and reruns of sports matches only went so far. “Let’s just keep going,” we said. Time was definitely on our side.

WeAreLao couldn’t sit still in 2020. In fact, our productivity went through the roof. Here are WeAreLao’s Top-10 accomplishments for last year, and we’ll peak into 2021.

1. MICE Guide to Laos 2020: We launched the second annual edition on 19 February, with eight new properties. “MICE Keep Nibbling on Laos” warmed up ITB Berlin buyers for the 4-9 March mega-show that cancelled on short notice. We switched our focus to the domestic market.

2. Travel Trade Journalism: In 3.5 years, WeAreLao has published 440 travel trade articles. We delivered the best via direct email campaigns. Others flooded social media. Much of this was simply reporting. In 2020, WeAreLao decided to kick it up a notch. Give the private sector a voice. Research, interviews, experience…we wanted real journalism. Less fluff.  

3. Downloads: In mid-March, WeAreLao launched a digital library with 20 publications, from travel guides, brochures, and maps to statistics and strategies. A filtered search engine makes pinpointing documents fast and easy to find. By New Year’s Eve, we had 50 available downloads. The page quickly became the site’s 3rd most visited out of more than 400 choices, not including news articles.

4. Helpful Links: Throughout the year, WeAreLao.com continued to expand it Helpful Links page to include 13 provincial tourism websites and Facebook pages. These links provide visitors with a fast path to new, updated, detailed information, and contacts for the destination of their choice.

5. Media Support: In February, eGlobal Travel Media, a leading online travel trade publication, endorsed WeAreLao, boosting our direct e-mail reach by some 80,000. The "Good Tourism” (“GT”) Blog followed suit in August, naming WeAreLao as its first Destination Partner to present stories and insights into the best practices of the country’s tourism stakeholders.

6. Newsletters: WeAreLao revamped its newsletter in 2020. Rather than a monthly, we’ve switched to a weekly with a new format and better content. Our database reaches the inboxes of travel agents in 50 countries, and their click rates are way above the industry average.

7. Listings: WeAreLao’s direct-link listings are our heart and soul. Rather than pay commissions to OTAs, visitors can more easily, directly book…and local businesses win. Our listings make searches easy via filtered search engines. We currently have more than 100 listings, and they all highly rank in page visits: Made in Laos comes in at 2nd, Find a Tour at 4th, and Sleep & Eat at 12th. Though once a revenue source, listings are now free, After all, we’re all in this together. Contact bernie@wearelao.com.

8. Deals: WeAreLao kicked off our Deals page three years ago with Green Season promotions. Covid stalled deals for a few months, but a push for domestic tourism began in September. Though WeAreLao was not officially involved in the Lao Thiao Lao campaign, we’re all in this together, right? For the two December holiday weeks, WeAreLao hunted and posted 40 deals.

9. Travel Tales: We needed a bump. In 2.5 years, we only had 20 travel features and no videos. Shameful. To pick up the slack, we teamed with bloggers including Brit n Boer; Mega Mark; Danish travel writer, Kenneth Karskov; Marco Girelli, a leading tour guide in Laos for Italian and Spanish groups; and most recently, Love Laos. By year’s end, we reached 40 tales. And, subscribe to WeAreLao’s new YouTube channel.

10. Sustainable Tourism Laos (STL) Showcase: In January 2020, we began developing STL to promote Laos as a Safe & Sustainable destination. The plan was to roll out feature stories, matching a face to a place with interviews, 2-4 times a week, with a direct reach of some 100,000. This would continuously keep Lao tourism in the media.

Covid changed everything, but we decided to do a market survey in October. The larger businesses embraced the idea, but understandably had to postpone. Crowne Plaza jumped on board. We are currently seeking support for MSMEs from tourism projects. Join our The STL Facebook Group.  

Doing something was better than nothing for WeAreLao in 2020. Plenty got accomplished on a shoestring. So now we move into the uncharted grounds of 2021. As we say back home, “Soooo, now wadda ya gonna do?”

1. Update WeAreLao.com: New and more info, more pictures, and more links. We’ll start with Oudomxay as they currently rank #1 of all the site’s pages

2. Journalism: Keep giving the private sector a voice with solid, researched writing. Those newsletters will keep coming, and we hope to expand our subscription base.

3. Support: WeAreLao is currently exploring ways to gain support, from big-business sponsorships to government projects.

4. Downloads: Not only do we have a warehouse full, but new ones will keep coming. Send Yours.

5. Media Support: That costs money, but we’ll keep pushing. Our leverage? WeAreLao is the best game in town.

6. Direct Links: Still free to start 2021. Contact bernie@werelao.com for details.

7. Deals: You have them, we’ll post them…but they must include a discount or bargain.

8. Travel Tales: We’ll continue hunting bloggers, and WeAreLao is willing to write a tale if invited.

9. Expand Reach: Direct e-mails hit our main target, foreign travel agents. Social Media catches a different crowd, and we will continue to add followers and raise reaches. Our Facebook group now averages between 400 and 1,500 a post.

9: STL: We don’t give up.

10. Wishing you all a Happy New Year, and keep pushing.

 

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