Over the past few weeks, the hospitality industry has experienced the devastating effects of COVID-19 with, at best, a hazy end in site. While some hotels and restaurants across the country have made the extraordinarily difficult decision to close their doors, others are re-working operations as best they can to try to keep up operations during this time. Even as markets see drops in visitors while travelers shelter in place, we know we will come out of this. Travelers, diners, guests will return. The question is, what are you doing now that can help business today and in the future.
From a marketing standpoint, now is the time to be planning and doing. In the last weeks we have seen hotels cut close to 75-90% of the sales and marketing teams to save on spending while one of the most important things they can do right now is spend on marketing and marketing campaigns. We saw examples of just how effective marketing campaigns can be for businesses after 9/11, during the recession, and certainly during recovery of other disasters. Think of it more of an opportunity to connect with current and future guests. Below is a quick snapshot of what hotels and restaurants can be doing right now.
- Get help on your marketing. If your team does not have the depth of knowledge or experience to move you through this time (or if you don't have a team at all), look outside your organization for help.
- In general, your data is your key. If you have not already done so or if you do not keep up to date records, now is the time for your marketing team to shine. Marketing is, after all, based in data driven facts.
- So, you have data covered, start creating and executing some tactics and strategies. These can be simple or more complex but the key is that you do them.
- Communicate with your customers. Opened or closed, now is the time to communicate with your key customers and feeder markets. Your repeat guests want to hear from you.
- Finally, promote, promote, promote. Getting in front of loyal guests is great, but now is also the time to capture the attention of those new guests who are at home and are looking for ways to support the hospitality industry. We have seen time and again, when businesses spend money on paid search, Google ads, promoted posts, there is a direct and positive result for the business. The key is that your business is out there in front of guests in whatever capacity you are working in.
While the outlook with this disaster is uncertain, one thing we know is that business will come back. We don't know when and it may look a bit different than it used to. However, if this holds true to every other disaster we have weathered, those who focus on marketing while others do not, will see greater results as business comes back.