After Mastercard and Klook, STB partners Visa to give SMEs a boost via domestic dollars

Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has entered into a three-year partnership with Visa to address the needs of Singapore’s tourism and lifestyle SMEs impacted by COVID-19. The STB-Visa collaboration focuses on two strategic areas to revive the local tourism industry - marketing partnerships and joint research and analytics.

As international travel gradually resumes, both organisations will scale up their partnership to include joint international marketing, powered by data and insights derived from their combined research. The aim is to develop marketing strategies and initiatives to help Singapore businesses capture demand once global travel resumes.

In the first phase of their marketing partnership, STB and Visa will develop a domestic marketing campaign to raise awareness of local SMEs, while driving domestic consumption through Visa cardholder promotions. In the second phase when international travel resumes, both organisations will launch international marketing campaigns to increase awareness of local brands and experiences in Singapore.

To launch the first phase in October 2020, STB and Visa will use their respective campaigns, "SingapoRediscovers" and "WhereYouShopMatters" respectively, to encourage Singaporeans to shop at local retailers and support the domestic economy.

SingapoRediscovers, a joint campaign launched in July by STB, Enterprise Singapore and Sentosa Development Corporation, supports local lifestyle and tourism business by encouraging locals to uncover hidden gems, stories and experiences in Singapore. Meanwhile, WhereYouShopMatters was introduced in August by Visa to encourage consumers to support local SMEs, while helping SMEs digitalise to adapt, sustain and thrive in a COVID-19 environment.

In the coming months, STB and Visa will introduce joint promotions and offers to encourage locals to rediscover Singapore and support local SMEs. The campaigns will be centred on three key themes: escape, feast, and shop. They will aim to boost spending at hotels, attractions, food and beverage outlets, and other local retailers.

STB and Visa will also profile homegrown brands and business owners through inspiring content that highlights their aspirations, passions and adaptability. This includes showcasing how SMEs can adopt eCommerce and technology such as contactless payments to better engage consumers and meet their evolving needs.

For the second phase which focuses on international marketing, experiences in Singapore such as shopping, dining, sight-seeing, events and entertainment will be promoted through content creation, promotions and tourist privileges. These campaigns will be rolled out in phases in key countries based on the respective market’s readiness to travel. STB and Visa will also test initiatives to drive incremental spending through cross-border eCommerce and harness new opportunities for local tourism and lifestyle SMEs.

Additionally, STB and Visa will combine proprietary data, as well as research and analytical capabilities, to derive insights on how COVID-19 has changed domestic and international consumer behaviour. These insights will help identify new trends and untapped opportunities, which will be shared with local SMEs to develop their own data-driven campaigns and initiatives that are in tune with the new environment.

To kickstart the data and research collaboration, STB and Visa have produced a report to provide insights for local SMEs. Titled "Impact of COVID-19 on Tourism in Singapore and the Road to Recovery and Transformation", the report found that local brands are worst hit by the pandemic, experiencing double-digit negative growth. The lack of an online presence has also left local brands more vulnerable to the adverse economic impact of the pandemic, especially those located in tourism precincts. 

In the next phase of the data and research collaboration, STB and Visa will focus on the impact of COVID-19 on business travel. The two organisations will produce an in-depth study to identify changing behaviours, new trends and growth opportunities that will sharpen Singapore’s competitive edge as a global business destination. Insights from the study will also guide future campaigns to capture inbound business tourism spend and help local SMEs recover.

STB chief executive Keith Tan said through the partnership, it hopes to give local businesses a boost through domestic spending. “Local tourism and lifestyle businesses contribute significantly to the vibrancy of a city like Singapore. STB and Visa both want to help such businesses to survive and succeed in the new environment. We recognise that many of them, especially the smaller and medium-sized ones, are especially vulnerable. We hope to help them develop new digital capabilities and transform their businesses," he added.

“COVID-19 has greatly disrupted the way we live, shop and pay, and businesses need to keep pace with changing consumer behaviour and spending patterns. Our partnership with STB has enabled us to derive analysis and insights on how local businesses can recover in Singapore, and what we can do to support their recovery," Visa's country manager for Singapore and Brunei, Kunal Chatterjee, said.

Chatterjee added that Visa will work with STB to revive inbound tourism, when borders reopen and more travellers start entering Singapore for business and leisure. Visa aims to drive more support towards local businesses through its 'WhereYouShopMatters' initiative and provide them with the tools they need to transition online and thrive, he added.

The partnership with Visa comes days after it announced the collaboration with Klook to launch a SG$2 million domestic marketing partnership to drive the rediscovery of Singapore’s tourism and lifestyle offerings, under the SingapoRediscovers campaign. The partnership has three focus areas: curated promotions for products and experiences, content development, and digital marketing to boost spend. Under the partnership, businesses – ranging from hotels and attractions to tour operators and dining establishments – will be encouraged to develop new products and experiences.

Without a doubt, STB is doubling down on domestic tourism. Just last week, it partnered Mastercard to join its City Possible programme which will see both parties collaborate on addressing challenges faced by Singapore’s tourism industry. This will be done via joint marketing, joint technology development and the generation of insights and identification of trends. Though the partnership, a range of solutions and initiatives will be explored to help businesses in the sector transform, pivot to new audiences, and prepare for the gradual return of international visitors.

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