2020… it really is a long and uncertain year, right?!
Well it may feel like there is no end in sight, but one of two things need to probably happen before we can fully move on:
This will all just become a distant memory and our life and businesses will revert to normal
We just need to learn to live with COVID19, carefully, and go back to our daily life and of course back to travelling.
I am based in Australia but have clients globally, and each market is very different, so I write this from a place of understanding what is right for your location, based on where you are at in this cycle.
Until we reach the point of “relatively normal” and if your property is still closed or you are running it at a reduced team capacity and reduced occupancy, now is a really good time to create your “Road To Recovery” action plan.
Your action plan will naturally need to go through a process and may not be quick to take effect, as we are not entirely back to a normal world as yet.
- Responding in today’s climate:
This is all about what you are doing now, it is a time to focus on your brand messaging and stories aswell as nurturing relationships. This is the time to communicate with your guests. Be inspiring – add some great inspirational content on your social channels and emotionally engage with your current guest database, let them know you’re thinking of them.
- For those locations where Travel Restrictions are lifting/lifted – this is the time where you want to energise customer’s desire to travel but they may still be a little hesitant in booking and paying right now. This is when your marketing efforts and investment should continue with Social media and Email but perhaps you want to amp up your digital advertising a little. Make your campaigns very targeted but also very soft and light-hearted, don’t be pushing a hard sale right now, but instead give them the inspiration and tools to be able to consider and book when they’re ready.
- Then we arrive at the stage of “demand growth” and this is when things are starting to look up and travel, outside of drive markets, is looking hopeful. Continue your efforts from A&B, but start to increase your budgets based on the insights you are getting – where are people looking to travel to, where are they spending most time on your site, how are they engaging with your social content – use all of this data to be able to carefully curate content and targeted ads, to drive potentially more sales.
- And the stage we are all waiting for – We made it! What is the new normal and what will it look like? And how do we change our measures for success to meet this level of normalcy? This is the time, as an operator or marketing lead, to be very transparent with your owners and leadership team. You need to get their buy in to the fact that this is a time for trial and error, the travel paradigm has shifted, there are many more factors to consider when booking travel now and your marketing efforts need to fit into this recovery period, we don’t know yet what works or doesn’t.
Don’t make this all about Marketing, you also need to consider and plan for other outlets: food and beverage, spa, operations and revenue management, it is imperative that all of your areas within your business, are aligned.
More likely than not, this means your well laid out Budgets and plans are all going to be turned upside down. One thing is for sure, you need to be shouting about your Cleaning Travel Promise – or whatever you may have called it, you need to spell out your standards of cleanliness, as this is at the forefront of every traveller’s mind today – Have you removed all high touch items from the rooms – menus, DND hangers, are you sanitising the remote control etc…
Do you need new signage, handouts, printed materials? Do your OTA descriptions need updating? This should all be included in your action plan.
Marketing – do you have a “Recovery Deal”? I recently created a campaign for a brand out of Australia, for domestic travel, called Reconnect, Rediscover, Celebrate – it picked up on all the areas that people crave – Reconnect with your friends and family. Rediscover your own city or country. Celebrate missed milestones or events. The package is a simple offer with a percentage discount on a lead rate and the messaging focuses on the flexible cancellation terms, as customers are still very uncertain about travel, you don’t want to burden your guests, you want to be easy to do business with.
And remember to focus on and communicate with your existing customers first, those who have had to cancel previous bookings or who are loyal guests.
The Fraser Marketing International Checklist for your Road To Recovery Promotion:
- Develop a dedicated website landing page and quick easy direct booking links.
- Create website carousel messages, promo tiles, and a dedicated landing page.
- Add the promotion to your home page navigation for ease of access.
- Add booking engine banners with messaging promoting the offer.
- Create a dedicated email campaign and make sure to send a reminder email before the offer ends.
- Develop social media posts and Facebook/Instagram Stories.
- Create social media conversion ads on Facebook and Instagram.
- Update your SEM ad text
- Create Social Media sponsored ads, that are very targeted.
- Add the offer to any third-party websites you subscribe to (local tourism boards, etc.).
- Update your TripAdvisor Special Offer with the promotion.
- And aside from launching promotions, you MUST have a tab or a landing page highlighting your standards of cleanliness, plus update all website content as needed to announce any changes in operational procedures or amenities.
If you have a Central Reservations team, don’t forget to add a phone number to your marketing materials. Customers will be more inclined to speak to someone and have a friendly chat, to get all of their questions answered, before booking travel, given the current times we live in.