The COVID-19 outbreak has turned out to be one of the most rigorous disease outbreaks in the recent past. Almost all industry sectors are facing the severe impacts of the pandemic. The hospitality industry, in particular, is facing significant losses due to the pandemic. According to a report by the BBC, the hotel bookings in the United States have collapsed by a whopping 84%. However, despite the social distancing norms, people around the world have continued to stay connected online through social media, video conferencing, and email.
Presently, people are searching for an escape and for quality content to lessen their stress and enhance the quality of time at home, which has posed a great opportunity for the hotels to capitalize. Hotels can continue creating valuable and entertaining content across channels to stay connected with guests. They should emphasize brand awareness, with tasteful messaging that drives traffic to valuable content. Furthermore, the hotels should also focus on advance purchases for future stay dates with a flexible cancellation policy. In this article, we will go through five digital marketing strategies that will help hotels combat the crisis.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
With fewer travel brands investing in marketing, there is a huge opportunity for more visibility within organic search, thus SEO can be an effective asset for hotels in this pandemic. Hotels can consider creating a FAQ page to increase visibility in Google Quick Answers. On the FAQ page, the questions and answers should center on the top questions regarding the hotel during the pandemic, such as measures taken on the property in line with the CDC, hotel reopening dates if the hotel has been closed, and other top concerns.
Particularly if the hotel has been closed, the content should be centered on the hotel’s reopening. Furthermore, hoteliers should also update all local listings to ensure they reflect current hours or closures, update special hours by day, or temporarily closed for the time being. Apart from this, hotels should continue the ongoing SEO maintenance to ensure that the website is properly crawled and indexed to maintain rankings and visibility.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or Metasearch
Presently, CPCs are low due to the lack of competition. So, instead of sensitive messaging, bold promotions, offers, and strong call-to-actions, hotels should keep their SEM ad copy focused on general brand awareness, driving traffic to content that adds value for people during this crisis situation.
Metasearch is also an important part of the search ecosystem. The global CPC rates on hotel Metasearch platforms are currently averaging lower than $1 for the first time in years, enabling hotel brands to participate in Metasearch platforms at lower rates and still create valuable data while driving traffic and engagement to the hotel website.
Recent statistics show that an average millennial spends more than five hours per day on social media. Furthermore, since people around the world were asked to stay home, the time spent on social media has increased significantly. Thus, this is a perfect time for hotels to stay connected and provide past guests with valuable content and entertainment while they are at home. The following are some ideas for social media content.
- Creating Destination-themed Coloring Pages: Hotels can share a coloring page of a destination that people can print for their children to color. They can also post these pages in a blog post and share them on social media and email.
- Sharing first-person-perspective Photos of the Destination: Hotels can share first-person-perspective photos of the destination and ask past guests to comment on their favorite activity on that destination.
- Asking Past Guests to Share Photos from their Stay: Hotels can ask past guests to share photos of their stay and trips by using a dedicated hashtag so that people can share travel memories with the hotel.
- Sharing Recipes from the Restaurant’s Chef: Many people are preferring to eat home-cooked food due to the crisis, this has created a great opportunity for the hotels to share recipes from the hotel restaurant’s chef. Hotels can also get creative and share a complimentary recipe or wine recommendation that is suitable for a particular dish.
- Sharing at-home Spa Treatments from the on-site Spa: Hotels can serve the customers better by helping them with at-home spa tips from their on-site spa.
- Sharing at-home workout or Activity Classes: If the hotels offer group activities or fitness classes, they can share workout or instructional videos to attract the guests and help them stay active at home.
- Creating a Kid-friendly Scavenger Hunt: If hotels have large family segments, they can create printable cards featuring the iconic landmarks in their destination which could be printed, cut out, and hidden by the parents to create a scavenger hunt. They can also post the printable cards in a scavenger hunt blog post and share on social media and email.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Managing good relations with customers is very important for hotels in this crisis situation. Hotels can create an email list of leisure travellers, business travellers, and group travellers who have cancelled reservations, so that when the COVID-19 situation begins to improve, they can send an email prompting these guests to rebook with added value, perks, or a complimentary welcome amenity. Apart from this, the hotels should also stay connected with their loyalty members during this time. They can consider partnering with a relevant cause or a charity and send an email to loyalty members prompting them to donate in exchange for hotel perks and rewards that can be used towards the future stay. Presently, supporting charities around the world has become very important.
Many brands and companies are getting creative with their branding and logos to reflect the present situation and help rally people stay home for the greater good. Hotels too, can find innovative ways to redesign their brandings and logos to encourage people for social distancing and find hope in these stressful times.
To conclude, though the pandemic has dampened the growth of the hospitality industry, it is bound to speed up again as soon as the crisis is over. Thus, these digital marketing strategies will surely useful for hotels to survive through this crisis and prepare for a much bright future.
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