Have you been looking for hospitality digital marketing trends which could help in reviving the industry post the COVID-19 unlock?
The Hospitality industry is one of the most resilient industries, which has weathered many catastrophic events such as 9/11, The Gulf War, The Great Recession etc.
For instance, take the example of Marriott Corporation. After ‘The Gulf War’, it split into two companies: Marriott International and Host Hotels. This, in turn, gave way to a franchise model, which was then widely adopted by the hotel industry.
Also, the 2008 financial crisis drove many consumers toward unemployment. Thus, customers had to try out new ways to seek employment. This led to the rapid growth of companies like Uber and Airbnb, which were newly founded during the time of economic crisis.
How will you go about marketing in the Hospitality industry amidst the Covid-19 pandemic?
Certainly, the virus has hit the Hospitality industry the most. We’ve also been warned by the World Travel and Tourism Council that, the pandemic could cause 50 million jobs to cut down in the Travel and Tourism industry.
To talk about China in particular, domestic travel began during the first half of March. The situation got better as compared to February in China. However, the opposite trends were observed in the US, Europe and Asia Pacific. Thus, the expectancy of average flight load and hotel occupancy went to mere single digits in the month ahead.
- During the first two weeks of March, China’s occupancy had a whooping growth rate from 9% to 18%. At this time, Trip.com Group came out with a report of 20x increase in China’s prepaid bookings.
- However, US occupancy is predicted to have a downfall and drop considerably below 10%.If this situation continues, then the hospitality industry would face hard times in the near future. Thus, it is imperative to get accustomed to hospitality digital marketing trends as the revival phase will be tough to handle.
How Covid-19 has paralyzed the hospitality industry
- The Tourism sector was valued at $254 billion for 2019 which would consist of 1 million operators.
- However, 86% of the operators contributed less than $250K in sales, thus implying how badly the virus has hit small businesses.
- Also considering the airline industry, an annual loss of $113-252 billion is to be expected according to IATA.
- This implies that the industry’s annual revenue projection went from an existing 4% increase to substantial 13-30% YoY decrease.
- In addition to that, 37% of YoY’s decline in bookings is due to the cancellation of 2020 bookings.
- Trip.com Group expects lodging businesses to have a down rate decline by 60-65% for Q1 YoY.
Undoubtedly, the hospitality, tourism and aviation industry are on miserable grounds. However, ‘digital marketing’ has paved the way for marketing in the hospitality industry. It’s high time now to understand its importance and implement the strategies.
Marketing Strategies for Hotels and Resorts:
1. Understand the perception of Travel:
Now that travel has been on a halt worldwide, it’s important to understand a traveller’s perspective about it during this crisis. Your recovery strategy must account for your consumer’s sentiments.
A recent survey of travellers was conducted in North America. They were asked about the first word which pops up when they think about travel. Words like these were recorded in the survey.
Do you think travellers with such perception will add value to your hotel?
To make a significant mark on your traveller’s visit list, you need to share a close bond with them.
During this crisis, having a negative impact on people, you can go ahead sharing something positive through social media, email, blog and website.
It’s understandable that many small businesses will be looking to earn revenue. However, your next steps might hurt your customer’s sentiments.
For example, Lumin, which is a popular skincare brand for men, released a marketing campaign on their new ‘Touchless Hydration Mist’. However, this was not taken well by its audience. Thus, they had to issue an apology email to all their customers. So, one wrong move can change the game in these difficult times!
Your message should clearly indicate that you empathize with customers and should inculcate positiveness. Your past guests will thus never forget the hotel brand, which uplifted their mood.
2. Give Back to our society:
In these times, any sort of help will be deeply appreciated. Extend your helping hand by collaborating with a charity, allow loyalty members to donate as to earn loyalty points. You can offer a future stay or provide complimentary rooms.
Many businesses have taken up socially responsible programs for their guests in the past. A great example of a hotel giving back to our society is The Goring Hotel in London. They have a joint venture with The Passage which is the largest homeless resource centre in London. The joint venture is known as Hotel School.
It teaches hospitality skills, which includes basic hospitality and culinary skills, customer and food service and tips while handling the kitchen, to homeless individuals. Thus, making them capable to seek employment. The program is known as ‘Social Upliftment of The Homeless’, which comprises of a one-week taster course. It is then followed by a ten-week Level 1 introductory course into the Hospitality industry.
Another project with similar intentions was carried out by the newly opened Falalel Inc. in Washington D.C. The purpose of this project was to acknowledge the plight of the middle-eastern refugees, who were displaced due to the ongoing regional strife. The project was thus named as ‘Helping Refugees Stand up’.
The restaurant made use of ‘Share the Meal’ app to donate a percentage of its gross sales that particular week. The result was heart-warming. Every $10, which was contributed, was equivalent to a day’s meal. Thus, satisfying the cravings of a hungry refugee.
3. Create a Prevention Plan:
Letting your potential customers know about your prevention plan is important. You can achieve this by sharing posts about the same on social media handles, through email or blog or website. Your plan should be efficient in generating a feeling of safety and positivity in your customer.
Your plan should also account for the investments in ‘no-touch’ technologies like biometrics, automation and gesture controls. This is well implemented at the Chengdu Shuangliu airport in China. It has kiosks using facial recognition which helps travellers to check their flight status and find their gates.
4. Interact with Travelers:
Stay in touch with your travellers.
Let them know about:
- Your cancellation policies
- Whether your hotel is open now
- How you would incorporate accommodation,
Your prevention plan
- How did you give back to the community
- FAQs during the Covid-19 phase.
In addition to that, take up their questions if any, and make a point to deliver the answers as quick as possible.
Also, make it a point to actively participate in the Covid-19 response. Take the example of Delta Airlines. They are flying medical volunteers for free. On the other hand, Four Seasons is offering free rooms for health care workers in New York.
Let travellers know about these good deeds via social media platforms. Your business will thus stand out and will surely earn a visit.
5. Plan It Now:
As travel is on hold, who have ample amount of time to plan out your digital strategy.
- Go ahead with the creation of attractive templates for social media marketing.
- Start blogging, picking up relevant topics and reach a greater audience.
- Work and set up an online review and reputation management strategy.
- Design a communication plan for the next 2-3 months.
The group Vice President at Publicis Sapient, Khurram Farooqui suggested that travel brands should use this time for reevaluating customer service and earning customer trust. So, make efficient use of this time!
6. Publish Valuable and Entertaining Content:
How much do you care about your community or customers? Your content should speak for itself.
Your content should have the power to uplift anyone’s mood, who are at home and are implementing social distancing. Thus,
- Share recipes from your hotel chef.
- Give out spa treatment tips which can be achieved staying at home.
- Make a list of engaging activities for kids.
Share images of beautiful locations. Thus, allowing them to virtually travel to these while they’re at home.
The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa posted this supportive message on LinkedIn. Such calmness is much needed to evade the negativity around.
7. Engagement on Social Media:
Hotels and resorts have been hit badly since travel is on pause. However, don’t go into hibernation. Post regularly on social media showing your presence to customers. The best thing to do is host a different series for different people. You can create a series of posts based on
- Workout at home – if your hotel offers fitness classes, then make a list of exercises which could be done easily at home.
- Travel destinations – Ask people to post about their favourite travel destinations and tag your handle. Also, you may ask them to tag at least 3 friends in doing so. Thus, increasing your posts’ reach.
- Share a Spotify playlist – Create a Spotify playlist related to your hotel brand (in and around). Make a versatile one, which would come to everyone’s use
Marketing for Hospitality and Tourism:
While this pandemic has caused havoc in the Travel and Tourism industry, it is expected from the Government to come up with effective packages which would account for the loss in salaries of employees in MSME part of the industry. Rescheduling of loans at a lower rate of interest is also anticipated.
To come back on your feet, your ‘small business’ needs a strong base and support. Here are some honourable mentions of startups, willing to help corporations within the Travel and Tourism industry.
RubiQ is a startup based on Tel-Aviv. They help airlines in refund processes, reducing the overload on call centres and in passengers’ rebooking.
In order to keep their passengers updated and informed, RubiQ offers Aircules. Aircules is a white-label, AI-powered mobile solution, which allows passengers to rebook from personalized alternatives.
Face++ is a Chinese company aiming at detecting and tracking individuals having fever at airports and subway stations in China.
This is done with infrared cameras empowered with computer vision technologies. Thus, the staff conducts all body temperature screening without any close contact. This, in turn, instils a feeling of safety among the travellers.
As the name suggests, ‘Bespoke’ is extending a helping hand to the Japanese Government by communicating with travelers in Japan. This is done in multiple languages with the help of ‘Bebot’, which is described to be an ‘AI concierge’.
Sitata is also another startup helping the Travel and Tourism industry in ‘disruption management’. They provide a mobile-based platform for travellers. The platform offers travellers with:
- Health and Safety advice/tips before taking a trip
- Effective real-time monitoring of any travel disruptions and
- It also handles automated safety check-ins along with real-time assistance.
The Travel and Tourism industry is certainly learning about, how to provide a safe and healthy atmosphere to their travellers. These startups have definitely done their bit by providing such effective platforms.
Since things won’t be normal after the Covid-19 unlock, certainly normal strategies won’t function right. You need to strategize effectively making each digital marketing tool work for you. This pandemic has shut down many small businesses. Therefore, to continue to survive in this competitive industry, you need to understand the importance of effective marketing in the hospitality industry.