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.
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!
So, what works better – user generated content or content published by brands, news agencies or other professional sources. There is a lot of conversation on this subject. But it is not as one-sided as you might think.
According to Forrester Research, only 14 percent of US consumers trust an ad created by a brand compared to 48 percent of users who trust the words, pictures and videos created by other consumers. Their take: carefully crafted calls to action from ad agencies are no match for the unvarnished truth shown in user-generated videos, shaky camera shots and all.
But, not so fast. User-generated content was usually not present among the most prominent stories, according to an in-depth analysis by communication professors at Northwestern University.
On average, only 1 in 100 most prominent stories were contributions from the public. Even greater, only 1 in 1,000 stories of the most-viewed on these sites were user generated.
So, what does all this mean? First, agencies like GRM have a reason for being. Placement is strategic, analytical and often purchased. Most importantly, content that is framed for consumers to participate (engage) in an interesting way and in conversational terms works best. It’s not just that user generated content is better, it is too often brand-driven content is incorrectly written and is devoid of true engagement characteristics.
Incidentally, the visual is an example of a ‘user generated video’ that was actually agency directed in terms of message and direction.
GRM has been making a lot of changes to accompany our fast-paced growth. We have done something we’ve never done before: hire our very own in-house copywriter!
Please join us in welcoming our new zealot, Julia Repisky! Julia is a zealot for video games, dogs, a lot of cardio, and a good book. She loves all things digital, and of course, has a passion for writing.
Julia graduated from the University of Georgia with two bachelor degrees in English and Advertising. Her background in both writing and marketing is the perfect fit, as she utilizes her skills to create original and creative copy for our clients’ social posts, blogs, and more. Her experience in social media marketing extends beyond copywriting, as she she has managed accounts for clients such as Papa John’s, Wing Zone, local restaurants, car washes, and more.
Julia works hand-in-hand with the GRM team to produce original content in the most efficient way, while aligning with each of our clients’ specific needs. We are excited to have our very own copywriter who can devote her undivided attention to creating nothing but the best for our clients.
Providing variable rewards is the secret of habit-forming products, reports The Economist (1/3/15). “That is why the number of monsters one has to vanquish in order to reach the next level in a game often varies.”
This is nothing new: “BF Skinner, the father of ‘radical behaviorism‘ … found that training subjects by rewarding them in variable, unpredictable ways works best.” However, the concept figures more prominently than ever in the digital age and the “intense competition … to monopolize people’s attention.”
Unexpected delights or unpredictable rewards provide a more authentic way to reinforce loyalty than traditional and tired “when you buy X, we provide Y.” They also disproportionately lead to greater referral in our experience. Of course, it requires a more personalized form of communications.
Our brand work for CURE Childhood Cancer was featured in the recent magazine of Georgia Center for Nonprofits. CURE Childhood Cancer is an 8-year client of GRM and has seen revenues grow from $800k to more than$4 million during that period.
Maybe it’s the personal connection, the storytelling aspect or the fact that video is a memorable platform that viewers can recreate, enjoy and share. We tend to think all three and then some. And the “some” part is where your ability to connect the brand personality, the end goal (donations, brand visibility, etc.) and the target audience comes into play.
As marketers, it’s natural to try to crack the code to the viral video. In a perfect world there would be an exact formula, but the exciting part is- there isn’t one. Whether humorous, heartfelt or musical, viral videos are authentic, shareable and hold meaning.
Here are examples of a few videos that have gone viral for two very different reasons. Watch these great videos to kick off the year of video marketing (and dance a little while your at it).
High School Teacher recreates “Uptown Funk” music video:“This is a great example of how a bunch of technology students let go of their fears, trusted their teacher and got down to Uptown Funk!!!,” the Youtube caption reads.
Zach Sobiech Leaves Behind Legacy Through Song, “Clouds”:
A boy battling cancer uses his musical talents to cope with his diagnosis and continue living his life through song. Zach died of osteosarcoma on May 20, 2013 at just 18 years old.