The uncertainty due to the coronavirus has a global impact. Countries are responding with strict travel bans to prevent the virus from spreading. The tourism sector in particular is badly affected by the pandemic. With travel bans, bookings in the hotel industry decrease and sales drop dramatically. Unfortunately, the situation does not only affect current reservations. How should travel providers and hoteliers respond to the crisis and those unusual travel and booking behavior?
In this article, Audience Serv summarizes 10 marketing tips for hoteliers to help them overcome the corona crisis in the tourism sector.
Watch our full presentation with valuable marketing tips:
10 MARKETING TIPS FOR HOTELIERS DURING THE CORONA CRISIS
1. TIP: KEEP MAINTAINING PUBLIC IMAGE
The situation is uncertain and far away from “business as usual”. But it is important to maintain your public brand and hospitality image. By doing so, use your website to reassure your customers that your property is clean, safe, and comfortable. To support this message, include your cleaning -, disinfecting -, and health policies. In addition, follow a clear and transparent communication. Be honest with your customers and train your staff in accordance with the safety guidelines.
2. TIP: TARGET YOUR CUSTOMERS
In times like these, people are insecure and scared of traveling. Therefore it is important to target guests with the right message. Rely on personalized email marketing campaigns to win (new) customers through suitable quotes. Offer exclusive deals such as room upgrades, special welcome gifts, or other surprise offers. This way, you can strengthen and establish customer relationships and ensure sustainable direct bookings.
3. TIP: KEEP IN CONTACT THROUGH CONTENT MARKETING
As travel and event cancellations continue to increase, you need to digitally expand your marketing efforts. Ensure consistent and timely communication with your customers. Despite the challenging times, communicating brand identity and values remains important.
Whether you’re approaching this situation from a health or marketing perspective – a healthy and safe environment has the highest priority. In order to keep in touch with your guests, content marketing is an effective way. Share relevant content on your website, within email newsletters, on Social Media, or use other marketing channels to engage with your guests and followers. Spreading relevant content can increase organic traffic and thus secure future bookings.
4. TIP: DON’T STOP ADVERTISING
“When times are good you should advertise. When times are bad you must advertise.”
As bad as the situation may be, marketing costs are currently cheaper than before the crisis. Use this as an opportunity to reposition your brand or to introduce new products / services. So continue investing in marketing campaigns instead of reducing them. Budget cuts in advertising spending could result in losing potential current and future sales.
5. TIP: ASSESS THE IMPACT ON YOUR BUSINESS
To adapt your digital marketing strategy to the corona crisis, you should assess the current impact on your business. It is important to analyze relevant key metrics and market trends in the travel industry. Also, create a forecast based on historical data from similar outbreaks like SARS, H1N1. Learn from past challenges and estimate possible developments. And even more importantly adjust your strategy to prevent negative effects on your business.
6. TIP: ADJUST YOUR MARKETING STRATEGY
Increasing travel restrictions due to Covid-19 cause a sudden drop in bookings in the travel and event industry. Be ready for ongoing changes and stay flexible. Focus on the “Top of the Funnel” strategy and invest in the awareness phase through display campaigns. In addition, direct marketing methods are recommended.
Due to higher margins, a direct marketing strategy will lead to a profitable and sustainable business. Also, try to increase the sales of each booking to counteract the decreasing total bookings. Special offers such as “Book the third night with a 30% discount” can generate additional sales.
7. TIP: OFFER VALUE ADD-ONS
Continue all ongoing promotions and include value add-ons in your offers. This way you can attract the attention and interest of potential guests. Using “add-ons” can help to differentiate your hotel and brand from competitors. In addition, you increase the perceived value for your guests and you maintain your market rate. For example: Instead of reducing the overnight price by € 50, additional benefits worth € 50 should be offered free of charge (e.g. a free bottle of wine every evening of the stay, free entry to local attractions …).
8. TIP: TARGET DOMESTIC TRAVEL, LOCAL DRIVE-IN MARKETS
Due to international travel bans caused by the coronavirus, you should focus on reaching locals with your advertising messages. Remember that due to restrictions, fear, and uncertainty, locals refrain from international travel and prefer domestic trips. Since the situation cannot be assessed, many holidaymakers change their travel plans and travel budgets towards local trips.
To generate and push alternative revenue streams, promote all your services, such as restaurants, bars, spa, etc. to your local target group. Define your offers and rates based on geo-segmentation.
9. TIP: BE FLEXIBLE AND GENEROUS - FREE CANCELATION
The corona virus is a threat to human health. Therefore you need to put people before profit and adjust your strategy in line with this approach. Be generous and flexible and offer your customers cancellation options and refunds, even if they were not originally intended.
If a full refund is not acceptable, you should give your customers the opportunity to rebook the trip. Thus, the guest can start the trip without additional fees after the Corona crisis is over.
10. TIP: KEEP YOUR FOCUS ON THE LONG-TERM
We hope that the corona virus will come under control as soon as possible and that the crisis will be over soon. However, the corona pandemic is likely to have long-term impacts and ongoing challenges. Thus, preparing and putting more concentration on long-term strategies is essential for your business.