First of all, this article does not intend to either downplay or exaggerate the situation in any sense – this is my holistic view of the Status-Quo, some comparisons to past crisis (SARS) and some strategic advice on how to proceed your marketing and advertising efforts for now.
Past cases: There have been quite a few times lately where either “act-of-god” incidents like the Tsunami catastrophe, earthquakes or volcano eruptions posed heavy challenges for the industry. Same applies to outbreaks of epidemics like SARS, Zika and now Corona…
NOW HERE IS WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED FROM THESE INCIDENTS
1) After SARS the industry recovered quite quickly and your potential clients will still come and visit your hotel – maybe they do not arrive tomorrow or next week but especially the European, American and to a certain extent Australian future travelers WILL BOOK THEIR TRIP NOW in advance (with a arrival period of 2-6 months) – so offer them a well-targeted package for the future trip.
Coronavirus fears could hit travel globally, and produce a decline in consumer spending in Asia and the U.S. But the effect tends to wear off pretty fast. “These retrenchments in spending are short-lived as consumers eventually get frugal fatigue,” says Jay Bryson, acting chief economist at Wells Fargo Securities
2) Yes there is a hesitation in the booking behavior but again, hotels need to think mid- and long-term now…The big hotel groups are NOT ceasing their marketing and advertising activities but some are even increasing their efforts and budgets to secure Q2 – Q4 bookings!
One fear is that there could be enough of a pullback in consumer spending and travel to hit economic growth. But again, the effect will probably be limited. “The negative impact on growth and asset prices from viral outbreaks typically normalizes within a few months, says Tilton at Goldman Sachs.
3) The Status Quo from my clients side (all are still running their DIRECT booking campaigns with us) is that we are still generating substantial amounts of bookings and that there is no downswing to be seen!
SO HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE AND WHAT CAN YOU OR YOUR AGENCY DO?
a) Education / Brand Awareness: Do NOT wait for your government or your authorities to give the ‘green light’ for future travelers but inform them yourself (via Email Newsletter, Blog, Social Media) e.g. with this: “While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat. To avoid any viral illness, experts advise washing your hands frequently and avoiding your office or school when you’re sick. Most healthy people don’t need masks, and hoarding them may contribute to shortages for health workers who do need them, experts say.”
b) Marketing and Paid Advertising: Change and adapt your DIRECT BOOKING strategy!!! Target overseas audiences that will take use of an “early bird” or cancellable package. We advise to heavily focus on specific GEOs and audiences that do have an intent to travel to Asia between Q2 and Q4 and offer them a ‘feel good – you will be safe” package.
c) Diversify your approach: You can create special promos (book now!) for different occasions and run them on different channels (we advise PPC, Display, FB and Mobile) with the final goal to be present, active and still generate revenue – the worst case would be to stop all activities, wait and catch up too late whilst your competitors gave caught your potential guests.
I am happy to share more insights with you – you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org