The COVID 19 Hotel Marketing Survival Guide : 4 innovative strategies

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Jul 9, 2020 | Hotel Management | Reading Time: 6 minutes
*This article was contributed by Colin Hannan, Principal at Proven Partners

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit many sectors, but few have faced as much turmoil as the hospitality industry, with hotels, tourist spots, and travel under the strictest lockdown restrictions. This unprecedented crisis has already taken its toll, with major international hotel chains announcing layoffs and hiring freezes.

In the USA alone, the industry is only expected to recover by 2023. Now is the time for marketing specialists to prove their worth, as their hotel marketing strategies will play a pivotal role in building towards this recovery. With both independent and chain hoteliers facing an uphill battle, it’s important to quickly find new, niche opportunities to pivot your hotel business in order to ensure your survival and create a platform for future growth.

Here, we will cover 4 innovative hotel marketing strategies that can help to keep your target market engaged, growing their loyalty to your brand.

Hotel Marketing Strategies to Help You Survive The Pandemic

Strategy 1: Going Social

Social media marketing has always been a focus for the travel and hospitality industry, offering a unique, accessible and visually appealing way to engage with your target audience. But COVID-19 has pushed the case for social media like nothing we’ve seen before.

A Global Web Index report found that 80% of consumers in the USA and UK were consuming more social media content since the COVID-19 outbreak, using it to interact with brands and find out the latest information on how the pandemic is impacting them.

Active users on Facebook grew by 5.7 million people just in the USA and an astonishing 105 million users worldwide, while YouTube saw a 98% surge in views and a 19% increase in engagement. Also, according to Digital In 2020, there are 3.80 billion active social media users:

social_media_users_2020

How to Implement This Strategy

  • COVID-19 Content – Your customers want to know how the COVID-19 restrictions are impacting your business, what you are doing about existing bookings, and – now that people are getting used to the long-term restrictions – how you can help them cope in this new normal.
  • Bring the hotel experience home – When it comes to hotel marketing and the coronavirus, the focus has changed from sharing safety and business updates to helping bring that hotel experience into the home. For example, some hotels are running cooking courses and cocktail courses led by their chefs that people can subscribe to over social media. They’re sharing tours of the property and running competitions for packages once the restrictions lift.

People are feeling housebound and missing the vacations they would be taking over the summer. Clever social media marketing strategies can keep consumers engaged with their brand by tapping into this desire to get out and see the world.

Strategy 2: Knowing Your Niche

People are feeling housebound and missing the vacations they would be taking over the summer. Clever social media marketing strategies can keep consumers engaged with their brand by tapping into this desire to get out and see the world.

  • Know what makes you different – Travelers are now looking to get away from the crowds and cramped spaces of the city, creating a niche opportunity for rural, remote and country hotels that offer space in which you can enjoy outdoor activities and socially distance easily. Look for ways you can tap into this with new activities, promoting your location, easy access from the city, etc.
  • Low-risk retreat – Rural areas are less affected by the pandemic and seen as low risk, making them a desirable location for clients who have been stuck in the suburbs and cities for months on end. Even if you’re city-based, there are plenty of ideas you can incorporate to help you offer your guests an escape from their pandemic life.
  • Affordability and accessibility – Local sights and tourist destinations are not only more affordable for cash-strapped travelers, but are more accessible under restrictive travel laws and the risk of lockdowns – it’s easy and safe to get in the car and explore your local countryside for a weekend, while international or regional travel is seen as far more high-risk and challenging. Pump up your offerings and add in more inclusions, providing more value for money than ever before.

Exploring these niches and marketing them to your audience is a great opportunity for many hotels that were previously overlooked in favor of chain or city options.

Strategy 3: Don’t Focus on the Negative

How you communicate your marketing content is as important as the message itself. While it is important to share information on the COVID-19 pandemic as it affects your policies, this shouldn’t be the sole focus of your marketing content.

  • Stay positive – Use a positive tone in your material. Rather than putting hashtags like #stayathome or #covid19, focus on the opportunity held within your offering, like #visituslater, #wemissyou, and #escapetonature.
  • Curiosity, novelty, and escapism – You obviously want your customers to know that their safety is your priority, but it’s important to frame your services as safe ways to explore your world, get in touch with nature, and enjoy new experiences. Stay positive, stay relevant, and tap into that love of travel.

Strategy 4: Show Your Preparation

The hospitality industry clearly needs to change in order to cater to travelers during the pandemic – so show your customers what you’re up to! It’s a great way to get them excited about traveling, reassured, and confident that it’s safe to visit, and engaged with the new opportunities you’re presenting.

  • Your upgrades – Maybe you’re upgrading your room service options, transforming your restaurant and spa, introducing outdoor picnics and solo activities – these are all new and intriguing changes that travelers will be interested in experiencing, not only for their safety but for the novelty of a new experience!
  • Virtual experience – Engaging with your followers through a virtual experience is a great way to market your services and build excitement and anticipation. Whether it’s a virtual vineyard tour, a GoPro video of a zipline, canopy tour or bike ride, or an Instagram shot of your new dining experience, it’s all about helping your followers visualize themselves at your venue. Or consider going full VR by teaming up with the latest technology to allow your followers a fully immersive experience.

Hotel Marketing: Conclusion

There’s no getting around the fact that hotels are in a challenging space right now – and yet, with the right hotel marketing strategy, there are clear ways to access some fantastic opportunities to engage with your audience and keep your doors open.

Right now, it’s about looking at what you can offer in this new environment and reshaping your hotel’s offering to take advantage of what people want right now – a way to recreate the hotel experience at home and the desire to plan a safe vacation for tomorrow.

Colin Hannan picture

Guest Author: Colin Hannan is Principal with Proven Partners, a global hotel consultancy. He has created, owned and operated a variety of successful hospitality businesses across the globe, and is passionate about helping hotels find optimal solutions to drive sustainable growth.

Extra! More about Hotel Marketing and social media strategies

[Webinar] Hotel Cast TV – Hotel Marketing strategies to increase direct bookings

This webinar puts guests on target! Together with two Hotel Experts, we discuss the best hotel marketing strategies to increase the direct bookings for your hotel, especially now when travel demand is so low and hotels are operating with fewer resources:

Rupesh Patel: Hospitality Influencer, Speaker, Hotel Industry Ambassador and Hotel Ower, who shares insights to over 37K professionals on LinkedIn. He is also the Founder of Smartguests.com and a real estate investor;

Allan Nelson: CEO and Co-Founder of For-sight, a hotel CRM that truly understands the power of data and help hoteliers increase their revenue and personalize their services.

👉Just sign in here to watch for free!

Hotel Cast Podcast #2: The power of online reviews with Sarah Came

There is no doubt that travelers need reassurance to start traveling again and social proof will play an important role more than ever. We chat with Sarah Came, GuestRevu’s Marketing Manager, about the power of reviews and how a hotel’s online reputation can attract travelers again. 🎧 Learn the best tips and insights about online reputation in this episode of Hotel Cast. Just press play:

Now that you read and listened to what the experts had to say, what are your thoughts about Hotel Marketing? We would love to know! Share with us in comments 👇 :

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