One thing’s for sure; hospitality is changing completely in the wake of Covid-19, and so is marketing. But how do particularly smaller hotels adapt to this new world? And what should they tap (more) into moving forward in order to attract more guests and stand stronger in the market? I’m sharing my five scents on the topic in this post.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of recording a podcast episode with Sound Bites on hotel marketing post Covid-19:
And it’s generally a topic I’m quite fond of discussing – perhaps because there’s still so much confusion going on about good hotel marketing. So, what is it? What can you as a hotelier or marketing manager do now and in the next year to make sure your property stand out and generates more bookings?
To sum it up in one answer: go local, vamp up your cleaning efforts and create more space.
A good hotel marketing strategy isn’t created overnight, especially not if there’s a larger team involved, but “the secret of getting ahead is getting started” (Mark Twain).
Travel is coming back, and once people feel comfortable with the concept again, the sky is the limit. Literally. But until then, many travellers will find comfort in visiting areas and cities close to home. Staycations and roadtrips have come to stay.
If you aren’t already doing so, seek to satisfy the needs of these travellers by sharing inspiring content on your social media channels – e.g. local city guides, behind-the-scenes of your hotel, interviews with local personalities, posts on local customs and traditions etc. There are a million ways to connect with your followers – one of the best these days is by sharing valuable and authentic content.
Don’t despair; you’re far-away-guests will make their return, but in order to thrive and survive now, you must turn your focus towards your local guests. So, who are they? Any chance you’d appeal a lot more to families with children than you did before, after introducing your new offers and packages? Or will your hotel become the place to be for local freelancers and digital nomads? It goes something like this; when nothing’s sure, everything’s possible. And now is certainly the time to create new initiatives if you haven’t already.
To sum it up:
- Create staycation packages.
- Share quality images and videos from your property and local surroundings.
- Take your followers on a virtual walk to showcase your village/neighbourhood.
- Create a local city guide full highlighting the best of the best in your area.
- Use local influencers – or micro influencers emphasising local life/hospitality. Remember: don’t get caught up in numbers here – engagement and style is much more important.
Vamp up your cleaning efforts
This is a no-brainer – and a part of me dislikes the new trend of talking about “clean hotels”. Cause, wasn’t hotels always supposed to be clean? Of course! Only now, they must be cleaner than ever.
Highlighting a clean and safe experience – both on your website and social media – is one of the first things you should do now. Truth is, cleaning procedures aren’t sexy, and nobody wants to see endless posts about clean floors and shining door handles! Instead, mention your efforts and procedures here and there. Make it a natural thing. An occasional post on Instagram, a few stories, a section on your website. Your future guests must be ensured that they can safely visit your property without worrying.
What does that mean in praxis? For example:
- Implement hygiene control (hand sanitizer) in lobby area, rooms etc. + hand out free masks at reception.
- Clean and disinfect public spaces more often, e.g. 3-4 times per day instead of 1-2 times.
- The buffet may be on retreat, but that’s an opportunity to make your plated servings more attractive and inspiring. How can you improve here to give your guests the best possible dining experience?
Make space for social distance.
It’s a thing and it’ll stay for a while. At least. Social distancing is not only important to keep the virus at bay; we’ve also grown accustomed to it – and we feel more comfortable when we can relax in our own space. From private in-room dining experiences to live cooking classes and yoga sessions. There are many ways to be creative nowadays!
How’s it even possible to run a business in an industry where human contact is the very essence? Good question! The key is to drive a social connection even while being physically distant. Get creative and don’t forget to share it on social media (along with your own hashtag, preferably!). User-generated content is still a thing, but I’ll dive more into this in another post.
Create more physical space on location, if possible. Although it means less capacity, it’ll heighten the experience for the guests choosing your hotel in the next 12 months. Space equals safety. And I’m quite sure this one has come to stay as well.
To sum it up:
- Get creative on social media. Use Instagram as a host for live classes and workshops. Cooking, walking, baking, cocktail shaking, meditation – share whatever works best for your hotel. If you can connect with people through curated digital experiences, you’ve succeeded!
- In summer; pour all your love into creating tailor-made picnics or outdoor dining experiences. I’m sure your guests will love you for it!
- Create more space on location. Less capacity also means more comfort for guests.
Also read: 5 Travel Trends for 2021 and Beyond.