(You can do more than you think.)
With each downturn, marketing frequently is one of the first budget cuts. In this unprecedented period, there are valid reasons for some companies to draw back. But, often that is the reactionary move and maybe a better response is to challenge the thinking to what CAN be done. Some revenue is better than none and continued brand presence and operational consistency will hasten the return of guests.
With that in mind, here are six ways to build confidence and short-term revenue.
- Institute visual appearances that let guests know you are paying attention to the details of health best practices and being ‘safe’ to visit:
- disposable gloves used by staff
- one-use wipe clothes in foodservice
- covered plates by waitstaff
- greet at a distance … let guest determine how close they want to be
- arrange chairs/tables/loungers further apart
- leave note in room each day that housekeeping has ‘disinfected’
All these can be subtly visual demonstrated and shared in social media posts.
- Price for occupancy and include credits or ‘meal plans’ to support other functional areas – spa, F&B, golf, etc. Room credit works in a couple of ways … avoids decision/off-site anxieties and supports staff. This is a unique situation that squarely impacts travel, so a short-term low rate does not necessarily impact long-term brand value. “We’ve never seen anything like this!” Yep, including our unprecedented rates and values – for right now. Some revenue is better than none and it obviously helps your staff.
Examples: The Cloister at Sea Island, offering a $299 room rate with a $200 room credit.
Southwest Airlines just announced $49 fares with no fare higher than $199. Those kind of deals are using rate to get those on the fence to make a decision.
- Staycation. People, especially those in metro areas, may be looking to take advantage of being able to work remotely and with the kids out of school, take a short trip.Look at your drive-time markets and target them. Pay attention to group spaces.. but most properties can manage ways to keep guests separated.
- Cancellation. Allow it. Without penalty. That will encourage people ‘on the fence’ to book now and not be penalized later if conditions shift. Keep in mind the fear of the unknown may be the biggest perceptual barrier in the U.S. at present. OTAs are the big loser here. They are getting crushed in consumer confidence by their inability to respond to cancellation requests. Not only is this hurting them in the short-term, but they are no doubt losing customers forever over their management of refunding cancellation requests.
- Continue marketing, but spend efficiently. Fact: companies gain market share during hard times by continuing to market themselves. The majority of the world is not willing or able to travel right now. But, there are some bookings happening. Find the feeder markets that are not hard-hit (most of the U.S., actually) and efficiently target them.
If you are silently on the sidelines, what is your shot at them? Likely not much because a competitor is trying. Bigger picture: much of marketing is a cumulative effect. So the efforts you make today will hasten your business – and market share – when restrictions and concerns ease. Build for a faster recovery! Front load your efforts for the rest of the year.
- “The glass is half full.” Remind and reinforce the good things happening.Leverage reviews, stories on social media of staff and guests that showcase recent experiences. Don’t simply reinforce the precautions, reinforce the good things that are HAPPENING right now at your property. Someone’s anniversary dinner. Enjoying the day at the beach. Pool service. Having a cocktail. I want to be there!