As lockdowns begin to lift, hotel and flight bookings have started picking up. Despite enduring COVID concerns, people are anxious to venture out again. This is good news if and only if long travel is regulated responsibly, with effective preventative measures in place.
However, we should also remember that while international travel is still on halt, the pool of travel prospects is much smaller. The success of the hospitality industry during the coming recovery stage primarily depends on their ability to adjust to the domestic market and to remain visible and relevant as the situation unfolds, for which several modifications have been made.
1. Focus on domestic travelers
Besides making precautionary measures (sanitization and social distancing) clear to customers, hotels are attracting local and domestic guests by emphasizing on the types of experiences that people are yearning for right now. Seeking to flee the tensions of daily life in a pandemic, travelers are preferring stays that make them feel safe so that they can relieve the tension in new surroundings away from crowds. They are searching for comforts and luxuries they don’t have at home. To find the niche, hotels are working together with like-minded local businesses and package experiences so that the domestic target markets can’t be denied.
2. Distribution mixes reviews
Attention is being paid to the new bookings and to where they are coming from. As a result, such focus on the distribution channels is driving the highest ROI. Channels that previously gave rise to a large proportion of international bookings are not working as of now. Moreover, direct bookings are rising, possibly because during such times, many attentive travelers strive for reassurance through contacting the hotel directly. For this reason, a direct booking strategy is focused upon to accumulate a loyal customer base and to reduce commission costs.
3. Reinvestments in SEM
SEM (search engine marketing) is pivotal to any direct online strategy. Utilizing paid search advertising to boost the website visibility on search engine results pages, SEM is a great means to gain new customers while curtailing acquisition costs.
As PPC advertising is the most popular paid search method, ad texts are being updated instantly. Moreover, market data and booking data are being analyzed meticulously in order to observe demand trends and target travelers. PPC remarketing is done to re-engage potential customers, that is, the customers who visited the website but didn’t make a booking.
Till the time a vaccine for COVID-19 is unavailable, vigilance will go on to surround travel; so it is crucial for accommodation providers to retain clear and open lines of communication with customers. Automated emails ease the delivery of relevant, personalized messages to individuals.
During these unpredictable times, email marketing campaigns are concentrating on keeping customers notified about the protocols to keep guests and staff safe, any favorable changes such as sustainability and community initiatives, as well as flexible cancellation policies and value-added promotions.
5. Social media
Social distancing has turned more and more people to social media to stay connected, informed, and entertained. From organic posts to paid ads, social media is a cost-effective marketing platform that has a highly targeted reach.
Things have changed quite rapidly during the pandemic, including hotel protocols and offerings. And like always, social media has emerged as an incredible way to share the latest information with followers. The momentary nature of quick posts like Instagram and Facebook stories, only visible for 24 hours, makes the content authentic and thereby can create stronger relationships with the customers. Such content also carries a sense of urgency to viewers to act promptly and react to the content while it’s still available.
Similarly, blogging is being used as a great means to keep customers aware of the travel climate in your area and can improve SEO as well.
Presently, as travel consumer confidence has started to grow and local bookings have started to pick up, businesses in the hospitality industry might consider restarting Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns.
6. Keep your hotel website up to date
While the virus is still at prevalence, scepticism is still surrounding travel. For this reason, businesses have been closely maintaining their websites to inform and assure potential customers of their services’ current operational status and preventive measures, special offers, cancellation policies, and local experiences.
As travel resumes to open up, the hospitality industry is on its way to adapt the required strategies accordingly to stay visible, relevant and competitive.