Six quick bullet points to accelerate your short-term planning. After all, it seems all we do is continually revamp plans and communications by the day …
- Back to basics: people will be returning to what is already familiar to them – one less point of discomfort or uncertainty
- More limited destination promotion: DMOs have lost funding and many have put advertising on hold; opportunity to get out in front for destination-driven brands
- Local community impact: taking into account the effect and perception on the local community is imperative. Not stepping out carefully and with sensitivity to ‘locals’ will invite a quick and vehement reprisal. Engaging locals is a major opportunity through social media.
- Environment will matter: not simply solving government guidelines is enough; properties will need to ‘show’ how people are being separated and cared for; how facilities are being properly sanitized.
- Pent up demand for escape: There is a polarization among consumers. A significant segment of travelers will bolt out of the house for a ‘getaway’ as soon as offered. Location and travel distance/mode likely will shape their decision more than price.
- Near-term, most travelers are likely to avoid large cities and crowds: okay, probably obvious. But your guests will likely have to work through the travel maze of airports or other places with groups of people to reach your property, regardless of the relative isolation you may offer. Consider how you can help them navigate the process from door to door.
Happy to brainstorm with you further!
(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!
Does it Change the World as We Know It?
A few takes to hopefully provide some equilibrium from the latest Facebook announcement.
Facebook has been making changes consistently over the years. This is merely the latest. And it’s very unlikely that it will be the last from them. Because now that Facebook has virtually saturated the market, they are looking to increase relevant content to make time spent on their platform more meaningful. And, yes, to continue to increase their revenue. Remember? They are a publicly traded company. Increasing revenue will always be a goal for Facebook.
So, what to take from their announcement?
Don’t seek those who promise algorithm tricks or ‘silver bullet’ answers. Because Facebook has and continues to tweak their platform, even if there was a way to beat their program today, it is unlikely to be sustainable even in a short-term period.
Rather than looking at Facebook as the adversary, consider how to work with their platform. GRM applauds the emphasis on content that will be shared and commented. We have long promoted engagement as a key to building an effective social media program. As with any content or media provider, Facebook wants more relevant and more watched content,
Facebook changes impact both business and personal pages. So, the idea that you can flip to a personal page and avoid the changes is not the case. Further, Facebook limits the followers to a personal page, which is not the case for a business page.
Facebook has not defined how they will prioritize business and news posts into the news feed. “Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content,” said Facebook on 1/11/18. GRM will create a post to advise followers how to set up our clients in their
preferences to ensure they see posts:
- Go to News Feed Preferences on Facebook.com or in the app
- Choose “See First” for the pages you want to see in your news feed
Facebook will prioritize content that generates comments. Within the arena of engagement, comments will now be the gold standard of currency on Facebook. Not likes, shares, or clicks. Comments. When people comment, they typically have been drawn into responding to the community in a more emotive manner. Which means, we want to create content that is fun, interesting, provocative, exciting. Content that is distinctive!
Understanding your audience remains a critical key to success. What do people in your community find interesting and engaging? Ideally, real conversations are created. Within brand voice, remain empathetic, hospitable and a good listener. As with any communications, think first how you would receive it if you were the audience. Use positive and encouraging verbiage as Facebook has been rewarding this for a while.
Live video remains valuable, but only if we are asking engaging questions and people are interacting with it. Otherwise, regardless of format (non-live video, photo, posts), one won’t be favored over the other.
Frequency will not be rewarded. Templated plans that are focused on X posts per day or week will not be successful. Have a reason behind every post (or response). Do not post to check the box that you shared something to Facebook. Instead, be intentional, strategic, and relevant with what you post.
Ads will be more important to generate reach, but they will not overcome lack of well-crafted content. Yes, Facebook is increasingly a ‘pay to play’ platform. But throwing more money behind ads or poorly performing posts shouldn’t be your default solution.
Don’t rely exclusively on Facebook to solve your marketing needs. A social media mix is in order … if for no other reason than to meet your community where they are most engaged. Social media is logically an extension of other marketing actions. Social extends the virtual conversation – allowing feedback, discussion and peer-to-peer interaction – that traditional media does not provide.
The bottom line: Facebook wants people to be social on social media.