In this pandemic when you are without guests and income the most natural thing to do is cut down costs, with the marketing budget going out first. Even Booking.com, Google’s biggest advertising client, stopped buying the first place in Google search results at the beginning of the first wave. Now they are back… for a reason.
Even if you are not selling any rooms or beds, your (future) guests are still on the internet, dreaming of when restrictions have been lifted and able to travel again. And they are more than ever on the internet because so many are working from home. Personally I have seen a surge in visitors to my website DNA Hotels and my Pinterest pages, which were close to a million views over the last month.
This time does call for a different kind of marketing. No hard selling, but warming up your potential and returning guests by simply letting them now you are still around. Stopping your marketing efforts, like sending out newsletters or advertising, makes guests think you have stopped your business. Let them know you are still around -even if you have temporarily shut your business- and keep them updated what you are doing for measurements around COVID19, maybe renovations or helping out in the local community.
Marketing doesn’t mean having to spend lots of money. Soft selling at this time is ideal for social media. Basically these are free and even if you do want advertise on them and spend some money, now is a good time to spend time getting your mind around it. Or you can look for someone to do it for you. As experts in social media spread work for many different clients, it is cheaper to work with them for a few hours than employing someone full-time. Advertising rates also tend to go down in times of economic hardship. Think long-term, as you are not going to sell those rooms tomorrow.
Start blogging – any good website should have a possibility to do so (if it doesn’t maybe have a good look again at your website and make changes). Don’t be pushy in your communications, keep things simple and don’t bombard your guests with to much information. Choose a “community first” approach. Shout out to front-line workers, but keep it relevant to your business.
Maybe join a marketing co-operative of likeminded hoteliers so you can lower costs and share ideas and efforts. Look into your property management system and/or channel manager and be ready to to take online reservations 24/7 with realtime availability and rates when guests are ready to book again.
Don’t worry to much about your competitors. We are all in this together and once the pandemic is over -and it will- the pie is still big enough for everyone of us. The future is bright. Bon voyage!