Since the coronavirus emerged, there appeared plenty of permanent changes like social distancing and hygiene protocols that are expected to be at the forefront of guests’ concerns when traveling.
In response to these concerns, hoteliers focus on finding ways on how to make the hotel stay safe, smooth, and swift, as well as ensure that the frequent human touches remain.
We are seeing campaigns, policies, and programs such as Hilton CleanStay, Marriott Global Cleanliness Council, Four Seasons Lead with Care Program, Singapore’s “SG Clean”, and more, rolling out every day.
Today, all these initiatives serve as a way to promote the hotel businesses and get more guests as a result. Moreover, hoteliers are building entire marketing campaigns around safety measures and the well-being of their guests as they realize that traditional promotional strategies are no longer relevant and enough to acquire new customers.
Recognizing the role of promotions, what are the best marketing strategies to use in this time of uncertainty? Let’s find out below.
Promote hygiene practices, contactless experience, and going green
To win over future guests, hoteliers need to keep the safety at center stage. According to Blackbox Research, 80% of travelers across the world are willing to pay more for safer accommodation. Besides, 76% of them will choose places that offer more reliable contactless experiences. The study found that global travelers’ wishlist should include the following ideas: e-boarding passes (44%), touchless lavatories (43%), contactless journeys from airports to hotels (40%), no middle seats in transportation (36%), and digital health passports (35%).
Global travelers’ wishlist
That said, hoteliers should focus on enhancing safety and cleanliness protocols, as well as adopting innovative solutions to cater to the increased need for contactless experiences. Based on customer expectations, hospitality businesses should lean more towards providing self-check-in/out, digital key, mobile ordering, and paying.
Besides, public attitudes have increasingly turned to climate change. The Ipsos MORI Research shows that 71% of people feel climate change is as significant a threat as coronavirus in the long term. As guests become more sensitive to environmental issues, they will be researching for hotels that offer green products and services.
It makes a lot of sense for hotels to develop hygiene concepts, as well as “No harm” policies, and make them part of the marketing plan. Hospitality businesses should share them across all channels – the hotel’s website, emails, social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc). It is also good to make sure that search engine optimization is strong to gain online traction and widen reach and distribution.
Thus, hoteliers should concentrate on integrating sustainability and innovation into their business strategy, as well as advertising their cleaning processes and contactless products.
Incentivize guests to book directly
Most hospitality businesses have strong relationships with online travel agencies (OTAs) and don’t plan to abandon their partnerships. Yet, as OTA fees climbed up to 30%, larger brands encourage their guests to book directly. For example, the Hilton promises special prices and perks. Its “Stop-Clicking-Around” campaign combined with the loyalty program has generated strong customer demand, which allowed to keep occupancy levels above 75%.
That said, major hotel chains are able to get more direct bookings thanks to adding a Booking Engine on their website. Here is an example of how it can look like. This small button makes the booking process simple and quick. Besides, hoteliers can place exclusive promotions within it. It will give website visitors an additional incentive to book directly.
Furthermore, the Booking Engine helps establish the hotel website as an important distribution channel and increase profit by eliminating OTA commissions.
We advise to install the HotelFriend Booking Engine on the hotel’s homepage and discover all the benefits it offers. It includes extra blocks that allow to sell not only rooms but also services, vouchers, and deals in all possible combinations.
Bundle services or products together
Customers like deal-hunting as it makes them feel smart. The research by the Hawk Incentives found that 97% of consumers seek deals regularly. In this respect, packages can go a long way in making them feel hotel offerings are the best deal out there. A combination of services and products offer value for money and encourage guests to try something that they might not otherwise buy. The packages may contain several options, variables, possible permutations. The variations are almost endless.
Also, hoteliers can offer promotions around certain activities and boost sales for specific days, namely honeymoons or anniversaries, adventure deals, ultimate relaxation experiences, attractive family weekends, etc.
To get the ball rolling, it is recommended to look beyond hotel facilities and join up with partners. It would be a good idea to request a listing on the HotelFriend Marketplace to be able to sell hotel rooms, special offers, deals, products, and services directly to the customer for free.
Include some extras to raise the value
To capture the interest of guests, the PR department usually centers promotions on the hotel’s expert topic or a specific area of expertise. The latter may include spas, wine cellars, golf courses, etc. This gives the opportunity to build the whole marketing campaign around this. To bring this type of promotion to the attention of a wider audience, marketers can write articles and blog posts or organize clubs or seminars in the hotel relevant to the expert area.
Another great way to give potential guests a taste for the hotel’s best offers, services, and products is to use vouchers. They encourage customers to try things and come back again.
With Deal Manager, hoteliers can create their own package deals and vouchers. All that is needed is to handpick a few services, combine them with an overnight stay, set an attractive price, and place these deals or vouchers on the HotelFriend Marketplace or the hotel’s website.
Combine restaurant and hotel promotions
By creating a good promotion strategy for the hotel restaurant, hoteliers can build a better reputation for the hotel as well. Marketing strategies for these assets may differ depending on the unique situation. It is recommended to create a separate webpage and social media presence for the restaurant. Also, hoteliers should give the restaurant and the hotel separate addresses and phone numbers to differentiate them from each other and prevent confusion by callers and search engines alike.
In addition, there are a number of ways hoteliers can combine hotel promotions with the restaurant’s ones. Here are some ideas to use:
● Send a drink voucher to hotel guests.
● Give guests a discount on restaurant meals during their stay.
● Develop several attractive packages with free meals, discounted drinks at the restaurant, experiment with a reward for those who book a luxury suite, etc.
● Initiate flash deals to learn what marketing methods work best for your business.
With the increased emphasis on contactless experiences and environmentally-friendly digital interactions, it would be great to use Digital Menus in the restaurants, instead of traditional printed ones. They can help improve customers’ experience with technology and thus drive more online sales.
Sure, it’s hard to predict long-term outcomes from the coronavirus crisis. Yet, we expect that people will be eager to travel and connect with each other again. Fortunately, we are seeing green shoots of travel returning. According to the STR study, even Italy, the former epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe, reported 53% occupancy in the Basilicata, Calabria, and Puglia markets.
For hotel marketers, it’s time to rethink and evolve their promotion strategies to meet the changing landscape effectively. We hope that the marketing strategies and tips above will help come out of the crisis prepared and get ready to take on new customers.
Public relations: Stephanie Moench