As you begin to plan your Covid-19 recovery, we know you might struggle with one big hurdle: fear of the unfamiliar. Starting from zero in uncharted territory is an overwhelming task. But there are ways to minimize ambiguity. We suggest breaking down your planning into bite-sized chunks so that you don’t let fear and uncertainty get in the way of developing a stellar plan. To help ground your thinking, we suggest you adopt these five key pillars, which will help you develop a competitive marketing strategy.
Warm up your guests now so that you have their attention when they’re ready to travel.
Because so many people are being asked to stay home and follow social distancing guidelines, you might think that now isn’t the time to engage with guests. But the truth is that now’s a great time to reach out to guests for things other than bookings if you can do it in an empathetic and authentic way. For these campaigns, focus on customers that you know and who know you well and have stayed with you recently or multiple times over the past couple of years. Stay top of mind and when they’re ready to travel, they’ll book with you.
Take the guesswork out of what to promote by gathering insights from your guests on what types of travel they will explore first.
The easiest way to do this is to send your guest database a survey regarding their future travel intentions in order to inform the following:
- How you prioritize bringing back on-property operational services
- The timing of your marketing campaigns
- The content of your marketing promotions
Here are some examples of questions that will help you gather the insights you need:
- If you’re thinking about traveling, what time frame are you considering?
- What form of transportation do you intend to use to travel to your first destination?
- What travel plans of yours were cancelled due to Covid-19?
- Do you intend to make up for those cancelled plans?
- What events did you miss due to coronavirus?
- Will your first trip be with family, friends or on your own?
- Will your first trip be for business or leisure?
- What services are you most looking forward to upon your next visit to our hotel?
- What would you love to do at our hotel or in our surrounding area that you weren’t able to do last time you were here?
- What was your favorite aspect of our hotel when you last visited?
Travelers will feel safest visiting hotels they’ve been to before so turn your focus on your guest database and use segmentation to distribute the right message, at the right time, to the right guests.
As an example, when people feel safe leaving their homes they will likely drive to their destination versus fly. Most hoteliers will grab a list of their local guest contacts and start promoting to them. If you want to stand out, we suggest you take it a few steps further by incorporating secondary segments within your local guests that will help you craft the most effective message possible.
Here are suggestions for both primary and secondary segments that will help you convert more of your drive market demand:
Local guests – profiles with addresses on file that are within driving distance of your property. (Note: in the Covid-19 environment, consider road trip distances part of this local demographic by including guests up to 20hrs away.)
- Loyal – profiles within driving distance who meet your loyalty criteria
- Recent – profiles within driving distance who recently stayed at your hotel
- Top spender – profiles within driving distance who meet your top spender criteria
- Related offer – profiles within driving distance who have booked offers that you may want to repeat (ie a parking promotion)
- Family – profiles within driving distance who will travel with family
- Guest preference – profiles within driving distance who have a special interest in specific services like your spa or destination features like your pool
If you can break up your lists into these hyper-segments, you will be able to distribute more personalized messages and offers.
Stand out from the noise with campaigns targeting the demand that others are ignoring.
For example, while everyone is focusing on driving near-term bookings, try to capture end of year travelers. Encourage guests to book now, for the end of year, with a great, risk-free offer. This will allow you to win demand and stay ahead of the curve. Why not create a Christmas in June promotion or a non-social distancing New Year? Be creative and think ahead.
Think on the bright side of low occupancy. Use your extra bandwidth to execute memorable experiences.
As you begin to secure bookings from your segmented drive market campaigns, consider how you might enhance the in-stay experience of your guests in order to turn lower-than-average occupancy into an opportunity to create guests for life. Consider doing things that you wouldn’t be able to do while managing a full hotel, such as:
- Offering special in-room dining to account for restaurant closures
- Providing breakfast on the hotel
- Provide cleanliness kits to continue to increase trust
- Surprising and delighting guests with a special in-room treat or amenity
- Upgrading guests to the next room category
Given reviews will be more critical than ever, this is the time to lean into ‘surprise and delight’ initiatives to secure both your relationship with your guest and your reputation among new guests searching for their next trip.
Looking for more strategies as you plan for recovery? Download our Covid-19 recovery guide today.