Pivot your hotel marketing strategy to work around the coronavirus crisis

If you’re like many in the industry, you’ve been working on a long-term hotel marketing strategy to gradually attract hotel guests back to your property. We’ve taken the liberty of asking three experts for a list of quick initiatives to supplement your core strategy, including a host of clever ideas to boost your online presence and in-stay offering.

We spoke to three marketing specialists, Katie Hokin, Founder and Director of AccomBoost, Luis Enrique Galdamez Echeverria, CEO of FashionPotluck.com, and Perryn Khoo, Digital Account Manager at WME Australia, to collate this list of quick-win actions that you can apply immediately to kickstart post-crisis recovery. Read on and share if you find it useful!

Don’t underestimate the marketing resources required to successfully reopen

  • Keep in mind that creating content is only half the work.
    Getting it in front of the right people and encouraging them to engage with it is just as important.
  • Identify which media or social channels your audience uses to consume content.
    Do they prefer Instagram over Facebook? Do they read local newspapers and magazines (both online and print)? Answering these questions will help you decide what type of content to create and where to publish it, so you can make the most of every piece.
  • Show your staff returning to work and how you are preparing the hotel to welcome guests once again.
    Make sure to highlight your new hygiene and safety procedures. Once you have reopened, it’s time to show your property in action. Stage photos with models and staff or opt for more candid shots of real guests (only if they agree, of course).
  • User-generated content remains a good way to promote your hotel in these unusual times.
    This means encouraging guests to share photos of their stay via their preferred social channels, tagging you in them and using your hashtag. You can track this content with a hashtag tracker and re-share at your discretion. Members of your target audience will see others enjoying themselves at your property, which will deposit your name and imagery into the front of their mind ahead of planning their next hotel stay.
  • Keep in mind that each phase will require some degree of spend, for content creation and promotion alike.
    When allocating budget towards creating and amplifying your content, make sure you consider the need for specific messaging at different phases of the reopening process. Budget accordingly for content creators, designers, paid social, paid search and paid coverage/advertising to get yourself in front of potential guests.

Engage with your local community

  • Think about who your current target audience is and how you can reach them.
    Domestic guests are probably your best bet in the short and medium term since international travel is still restricted in many countries (e.g. closed borders or mandatory on-arrival quarantine).
  • Offer special events and promotions to your local community while you wait for travellers from abroad to return.
    Create events and offerings that they can easily take advantage of. Use this not only to initiate the first trickle in your returning stream of revenue, but to let your wider audiences know that you’re up and running and already providing value to your customers.
  • Prepare for changes in your country or region by returning to business with this narrowed focus.
    This foresight is especially important since rules, regulations and restrictions are changing quickly these days.

Get creative with your promotions

Since COVID-19 is an unprecedented situation and every hotel is different, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for promotions. Katie Hokin sounds off below with a brilliant list of actionable hotel marketing ideas.

  • Think outside the box with your promotions.
    Create Covid-ready experiences to offer moments of joy for adults and children alike.

  • New offers can include Covid-aware up-sell deals or upgrades.
    You could offer 3-for-2 night staycation offers, a special up-sell deal on breakfast or other services at your hotel or less conventional ideas such as selling day-use rooms for people wanting to work remotely in a quiet, sanitary environment close to home. For more inspiration, find 20 cool ideas in Katie’s video below 👇🏼
  •  Ask your newsletter subscribers or social media followers for their opinion. Understand what would entice them to come stay with you. Make it clear that your team are open to suggestions from your customers to increase your chances of creating promotions they are truly interested in.
  • Test your promotions to see what your guests respond to best.
    Refine your approach to give the right guests the right experiences at the right time.

Perryn Khoo, Digital Account Manager for WME Enterprises, encourages you to think outside the box when it comes to enhancing your hotel’s online presence with SEO. If now’s not the time to future-proof your approach, we don’t know when is!

  • Think about voice activation software.
    Capture the increasing number of potential guests using this method to search for their holidays by making sure to structure your content clearly for use in voice search results.
  • Use a Q&A format or include phrases that resemble a voice search query.
    If you find this difficult to do on your homepage or in your room description, having a few blog posts optimised for this purpose will help generate traffic from voice search.
  • These posts can list nearby landmarks, sites or other things people can visit or do while they are staying with you.
    They can include topics such as ‘best restaurants/ bars/ cafes/ museums/ family activities… in your city’. What phrases do you normally use when speaking to Siri or Google?
  • Create a Covid-related blog post to highlight your city’s and country’s regulations and first-response steps.
    Update it regularly so guests can inform themselves before the trip and prepare themselves accordingly. A high-demand topic like this is a great way to drive traffic to your site, if formatted with SEO in mind.

This post originally appeared on the Oaky website and is reproduced with their permission.

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