Understandably, COVID-19 has made the last several months difficult for those in the hospitality industry. However, in certain parts of the world, travel and hotel bookings are starting to finally increase. For example, Spain’s hotel bookings have increased by 1,000 percent after dropping to a mere 5 percent of its 2019 levels back in April.
Those in the hospitality and hospitality marketing world will have to start adjusting to the new normal if they want their businesses to survive long-term. If you’re part of either of these groups, read on for some guidelines to keep in mind as you move forward for the remainder of 2020—and beyond. You’ll also gain more insight into the state of the world and how COVID-19 has affected those in the hospitality field.
Changes in travel perceptions
Attitudes toward travel have changed a lot in response to COVID-19. According to one poll, 50 percent of adults say that with the world in the state it’s currently in, they have no intention of travelling on a plane. Eighty percent of respondents also said they would not travel on a cruise ship.
Increased government support
People aren’t as interested in travelling this summer as they might normally be. Governments have picked up on this change in attitude, too. As a result, many have taken steps to try and help out the struggling hospitality and tourism industries (this makes sense when you consider how much tourism contributes to many countries’ GDP). For example, the U.S. government has deferred taxes for those in the hotel, airline, and cruise ship businesses.
Tips for hospitality marketers
Now that you have a clearer idea of the specific effects of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry, let’s go over what you can do to help your business. Now, more than ever, you need to focus on marketing. Here are some specific ways in which you can do this:
Control your message
Controlling the narrative is an essential part of marketing your business and maintaining a positive brand reputation. Right now, customers want to know what their favourite brands are doing to weather the storm of the pandemic and keep them safe. By getting in front of the issue and talking about how you’re responding to COVID-19, you can maintain control and ensure you’re putting out a positive message to your audience.
Reassure staff and guests
Make an effort to reassure both your staff and your guests. Talk to staff members about the specific protocols you have in place to keep them safe and let guests know about the protocols you’ve created for their safety. Be transparent about these plans and protocols, too. Publish them on your website or include mentions of them in your advertisements. This helps you to control the narrative and lets other potential guests know that you take the matter seriously and have their best interests in mind.
Use the right tools
If you’ve been sleeping on digital marketing and SEO tools, now is the time to invest. The right tools can help you to expand your reach and get your marketing messages out to the right people in a more efficient way. We can help you utilize tools like Hootsuite and SEMrush to help you to monitor organic website traffic and social media mentions. And this information can help us fine-tune your marketing methods to see better results.
Prioritize ad spending
Paid ads can be a great tool for building brand awareness. Now, though, you might want to use that money for other marketing methods instead. Rather than paying for social media ads to expand your audience, for example, you might want to focus on targeting people who are farther along the sales funnel. These people are more likely to interact with and invest in your brand. Prioritizing them can help you to see more direct results and will boost your bottom line.
Test and re-test
Keep testing and re-testing different marketing approaches. Testing helps you to figure out which strategies work best. You can then carry the information you gather over into future marketing campaigns. Make sure you’re testing different types of images and copy to see how they appeal to both individuals and groups. Monitor their effect on different audience demographics, too.
Appeal to local customers
People might not be willing to fly from different locations to check out your business. That doesn’t mean there aren’t still opportunities to market your offerings, though. Consider appealing more to local customers during this time. Promoting your spa or other amenities, for example, can help you to bring in traffic and survive during a difficult time. This also allows you to test new services or offerings that you can use to entice more guests later on.
Leverage existing bookings
Make sure you’re leveraging existing bookings right now as well. Reach out to those who have already booked stays or appointments and look for ways to upsell or cross-sell via email with special promotions or offerings. Encourage staff to upsell and cross-sell when working with guests, too.
Encourage customer loyalty
If you don’t already have a loyalty program in place, what are you waiting for? Find a way to reward past customers and encourage them to come back again by offering them a discount or other perks. If people know that they can save money or work toward an opportunity to save money in the future, they may be more inclined to visit, book stays for the future, or make appointments for services now or later.
Combat COVID and keep building your business
It’s understandable if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed or unsure about the future. COVID-19 has had a negative impact on several industries, and the hospitality industry is certainly no exception. If you’re struggling to keep your head above water, keep the guidelines for hospitality marketing in mind as you move forward with your business plan. It is still possible to continue growing during this difficult time. With a little creative and a lot of perseverance, you’ll be able to set yourself up for long-term success.