Of all the industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, travel and hospitality have been among those hit the hardest. Most difficult is the realization that the pandemic is not only affecting current bookings, but that without a timeline for the return to normal, it could impact future bookings as well. For hotels especially, travel decisions are often made as far as a year in advance, leaving these businesses in a state of limbo — unable to know for sure when they will be able to again host their guests, and being careful not to make any promises that they cannot keep in this time of uncertainty. As Airbnb recently learned, halting your marketing because of COVID-19 could have repercussions, so here are five easy ways that hotels can continue their relationships with past and future guests.
1. Reinforce The Culture And Character Of The Property
We work with our hotel clients to help define and share the things that make them a unique and compelling option for guests, and now is an ideal time for properties to make the most of this differentiation. If you have a signature greeting, turndown service or amenity, share it with your audience through social media posts or an email newsletter; you don’t have to include professionally shot photos to make an impression.
Additionally, if your property has a signature dish or drink, share the recipe along with a dedicated time that social media fans can connect with you to enjoy the experience together. Giving past and future guests an opportunity to experience a bit of your hospitality can go a long way in continuing to build and maintain these relationships.
2. Don’t Be Afraid To Get Immersive
With an empty hotel, you can shoot some of the best content and show the property in ways that you can’t when occupancy is at normal levels. If your hotel is making improvements, show that in a live-streamed video. Even if it’s not, a virtual property tour is an incredibly engaging experience that you can share in real-time; it provides an opportunity for viewers to ask questions and experience the grounds and features of the hotel.
Want to go even further? A virtual cooking demonstration, tips from the spa or even a “dinner date” featuring live entertainment and the shared enjoyment of one of those shared recipes mentioned earlier can create an experience that your “guests” won’t soon forget.
3. Play Curator With Shared Third-Party Content
Travel limitations are affecting everyone, and I’ve noticed that people are sharing their memories and experiences from past trips and vacations in huge numbers. Use this opportunity not only to engage with those sharing content about your property, but also to share this content with others on your brand channels. You can even create some remote surprise and delight by sending a small thank-you to those who are keeping your property top of mind.
Consider putting together a weekly roundup of shared content, posting shared content on Instagram Stories or creating a “did you know” post using shared content (all with the original posters’ permission of course) to encourage additional sharing by members of your online community.
4. Be Careful Of Your Cadence
Absent the usual slew of responsibilities, it can be easy to overcommunicate with your audience. We’ve all had to unsubscribe from a mailing list or two and “snooze” some social media accounts on our news feeds because of too much content during the quarantine. Learn from this, and make sure you are focusing on quality over quantity. Most people would probably rather be on vacation or exploring a new location than stuck at home, but they don’t want to be reminded of it every time they check their email or social feeds.
5. Plan For The Future
It can be hard to look forward when the present seems to be in such a state of flux, but for hotels, a forward-thinking mentality is essential. This doesn’t mean setting a reopen date and sharing it far and wide only to have to move it back repeatedly; it means having a generalized optimism about the end of this pandemic. Reinforce to your fans and followers that they will have the opportunity to share an amazing experience with you again in the future, and share with them that you are as excited about seeing them as they are to be staying with you, whenever that may be. After all, this is not goodbye; it’s just an enthusiastic see you later.
This is a troubling time, especially for those who rely on travel and tourism for their revenue. As we continue to tell our clients, it is only possible to control what is within your ability to control — and for those who pride themselves on stellar service and hospitality, you still have a chance to shine as you build and maintain relationships with your audience.
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Author: David Harrison, CommunityVoice