For the better part of 2020 most people have been in quarantine and dreaming of better times. With all of that down time, many people are scouting out destinations and making their next travel plans.
Luckily, there are numerous ways to reposition your hotel and prepare for recovery.
Even though travel as we know it has changed, you will still need to make strategic marketing decisions to boost your bottom line. To turn customer reluctance into bookings, you will want to increase awareness of your brand and market your hotel with a rebound focus in mind.
With so many different options for marketing it can be overwhelming. So what should a struggling hotel owner do? Once you have an idea of what the travel triggers are, then it’s time to make a plan of action to help get your hotel noticed!
First, Watch for Trends and Patterns to Help Prepare
Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to impact travel. But with news of effective vaccines in the near future, plans to travel in 2021 look more promising. Key findings in a survey by Traveler and Consumer Sentiment Survey Results show over 60% of American travelers said Pfzer’s promising vaccine announcement made them more optimistic that they can travel safely in 2021.
Most likely you already have a pulse on travel restrictions, at least locally. To help you forecast and plan for the initial rise in travel, you are going to want to pay special attention to a few indicators:
· Government restrictions on travel are easing and people are no longer staying at home
· Restaurants are starting to reopen with limited capacity
· You’re starting to receive more inquiries and future bookings
· Your website is seeing increased organic traffic
Once you see that a few of these areas are starting to pick up, then it may be time to connect with your past and future guests and tell them why they should choose your hotel.
Increase Brand Awareness
Brand awareness means spreading the word about your hotel consistently. Nowadays, you do not need a big budget to promote your brand. First identify what your hotel has to offer that sets it apart from the rest of the pack. Then set in place simple yet effective ways to promote your hotel such as:
· Post regularly on social media across multiple channels
· Try out a mail promotion to those in your city
· Paid social advertising on Twitter
If your hotel is not already active on social media, this will be a prime opportunity to build your online presence and solidify your brand.
Make Your Website Simple and Searchable
Remember, people will be leery about traveling at first. Adding key content to your website will be the first place your future guests go to find out more about your operating procedures, booking procedures and what amenities are still available.
Guests will feel more confident about booking stays if they know the protocol up front.
Check out your competitor websites and see where you can improve your website for a bit of leverage. Focus on ways you can communicate operations efficiency such as:
· Adding guest content that highlights memorable stays during COVID-19
· Posting quality images focusing on outdoor amenities and open, indoor shared spaces
· Promoting a flexible cancellation policy to help incentivize potential travelers on the fence about booking a future stay
Keep these new priorities in mind when showcasing your brand so that your hotel first comes to mind when customers are making their travel decisions.
Boost Brand Awareness with Online Ad Campaigns
Coming out of the travel slump you are going to want to show off your property and let travelers know what you have to offer! A great way to do this is reallocating some of your budget to social media advertising.
If you have the ability to reallocate part of your budget to advertising, you will see just how quickly you can reach a large, targetable audience.
First consider who your target audience is and your peak booking season.
Having a good understanding of these two key elements will help you to determine which platform will yield the best results and the time of year to run your ads.
Is your hotel a perfect destination for weekend getaways or weddings? If so, you are going to want to focus on scheduling ads on the weekends. You might also consider Pinterest or Instagram for to reach wedding planners and travelers planning vacations.
Perhaps the majority of your bookings are weekday business travelers. This group is most likely booking travel during business hours, so that is when your ads should run. LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter may be your priority platforms, especially if you are considering using a targeted email list.
Once you’ve determined your target audience, ad schedule, and platform, you should then be able to calculate your ad budget.
After that it’s time to create simple, mobile-friendly ad content for posting. Keep this part simple! With certain platforms you will even be limited to three mobile lines of text, which is not very much. In your content include select keywords based on what applies to your hotel such as “skiing” or “business travel.”
Experiment on one or two channels of advertising and focus your content on amenities and local events that will draw travelers to your hotel.
Create a Plan for Direct Bookings with a Focus on Local Guests
Your best option for affordability and controllability is to target guests that are rebooking, or that already have familiarity with your hotel.
Besides listing your new operations standards on your website, you can also try to appeal to the local market focusing on the concept of staycations. Here are some additional tips for marketing success:
· Consider partnering with local business and restaurants around you to offer a discounted meal with a discounted stay at your hotel.
· Marketing your offerings on social media platforms, can be the perfect sales tool to reach customers in your backyard. From there they can click on your website for seamless booking.
· Look for ways to incentivize those looking to say somewhere safe during uncertain times. Past guests can also make the best new customers. If they enjoyed their stay in the past, they would consider your hotel before staying somewhere new.
· Hotel loyalty programs encourage customers to return, but with added perks. Consider rewarding your loyal guests with rewards such as a purchase one night get the second night discounted.
With a bit of creativity, launching a few of these ideas could help increase bookings at your hotel. Just remember there’s never one solution. Flexibility will be key moving forward based on new data and changing travel trends that emerge over the course of the next year.