The hotel industry is constantly evolving, especially during the current crisis. We’ve now passed the first phase of the pandemic in most of the regions of the world. Still, it’s a period of low travel confidence that has given rise to new travel trends and behaviors.
In our previous post, we talked about emerging post-crisis travel trends and behaviors. However, understanding new travel trends isn’t enough. Hotels need to up their game right now by adapting to travelers’ changing behaviors and priorities. In this article, we share strategies for hotels to adjust their online marketing and distributing strategy to attract guests, as well as create relevant onsite guest experiences to delight them during the post-crisis period:
Be where your customers are
Dragon Trail Research surveyed a group of Chinese travelers in early March and found out that “travelers born in the 1990s are likely to travel sooner than older respondents. They are also the most likely age group to have increased travel budgets after the crisis. This will be an important target audience for travel marketers once recovery begins.” Thus, your target groups right now are young and middle-aged adults.
To attract this section of travelers, you need to understand their search and booking behaviors. We know that this tech-savvy target group is most likely to plan and book their travel online, more so during the current time of social distancing. These travelers are searching and booking on an ever-expanding mix of direct and indirect channels, including metasearch engines, brand.com websites, and Online Travel Agencies (OTAs). Make sure that you have a noticeable presence on these channels.
We also know that travelers nowadays are looking for local travel options. Pick channels and platforms that would help you entice local travelers to book with you. You can also run paid campaigns to target specific age groups and locales and advertise specific deals.
For example, trivago’s Special Offer can help you attract your target group with a selection of special offers. Click below to log in to trivago Business Studio and find out more:
Promote your official direct rates to boost bookings.
Engage with your customers
Due to the low travel confidence in this post-crisis period, it’s important to not only sell but also engage with your customers to build confidence and long-lasting guest relationships. For this, social marketing is the most beneficial. Social marketing techniques let you advertise your rooms and other services, promote deals, and enhance customer engagement.
Social marketing can be done in the form of your website content, including copy and images, through SEO techniques. Another tool of marketing that is versatile, effective, and indispensable is social media. A successful social media strategy integrates several platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, etc. Last but not least, email marketing is a cost-effective and powerful means of engaging with your guests and increasing the visibility of your hotel’s brand even during the crisis.
You can share hotel photos, short videos, and blog posts around the safety measures being taken at your property to make travelers interested in your property. With the help of targeted paid campaigns and emails to the local customer base, you can ensure reaching your potential customers easily and effectively.
For enhanced engagement, you can create an online support center or use AI/chatbot functionality on your website. As travelers might be skeptical right now of traveling and staying at hotels right now, so make sure that you are always available to answer their queries and doubts.
Offer what your customers want
We’ve seen in our previous post how the traveler of today is looking for safe, local, and family travel options. In this case, your property and services should cater to these new demands of your guests.
To make your property attractive to local travelers, make sure you have parking options in or around your hotel. If possible, waive the additional parking charges. Also, your website, social media accounts, metasearch, and other booking portals should show all parking details and options to attract road trippers. As people will now increasingly travel by car, they’ll be much more flexible and might want to check-in and check-out at odd times. Plan to welcome them any time of the day and night with the help of a 24/7 reception.
The low travel confidence right now means that travelers need an extra push to plan a travel. Such budget travelers like slashed prices and offers. As a hotelier, if you plan on reducing your room rates, you might be giving away your pricing power and might face adverse financial consequences on your future profits. Thus, a good strategy is to keep your rates at a normal level and promote offers or freebies for domestic travelers.
Guests these days want keyless and contactless check-in and checkout and few personalized interactions. Make sure you have such facilities at your property. You also need to reassure potential guests that you’ve put additional measures in place to protect against coronavirus transmission. For this, enlist your measures, like daily sanitization of rooms and common places, use of face masks by staff, contactless reception services, installation of disinfectant booths, etc. on your website’s homepage. Also, make sure that this information is shown clearly on your listings at all connected booking channels and metasearch engines.
People would like to go out for relaxing holidays now with their families to freshen up their minds after a lockdown. They would like properties that have kid-friendly and pet-friendly amenities. As such, they want facilities, like family-friendly TV programming, complimentary in-room breakfast, on-site laundry, kids’ play area, and other adventure activities for the whole family, like hiking and biking. Since most of the time people will be indoors, this is your opportunity to turn their normal hotel stays into staycations, which brings us to our last offering, experiential travel.
To promote holistay and staycation activities at or around your property, create local, immersive experiences for your guests. Promote your local offerings, like culinary food events, wine tasting, nature walks, custom itineraries based on the neighborhood, etc. on your website and social media handles. You can also collaborate with your local tours and small travel businesses to cross-sell your rooms and other products and services. You can also provide local experiences by ditching your generic menu to offer more authentic and interesting local dishes instead. Also, traditional recipes will be made using local and fresh produce and wholesome ingredients. Other ways to pay homage to local cuisine is to hold food events or culinary tours and offer cooking classes or demonstrations. You can also bring more authenticity in common areas and hotel rooms through regional elements, artworks, and materials.
Featured image: Manuel Moreno on Unsplash