Industry proven and tested ways to market your property in a post-COVID-19 era
Hotel occupancy today is one of the major topics of discussion, both in and out of the hospitality industry. The world is waiting to see if travel and hotel stays will return after the impact of COVID restrictions. As professionals of one of the oldest industries in the world, we are sure occupancy will rise again as soon as COVID restrictions are lifted. People can only put off their plans for business travel, medical procedures, and visiting loved ones for so long, and hotels are an essential part of the necessary travel infrastructure.
In addition, the millions now working at home and quarantining are building an increasing need to get away from home – even if it’s not far from home. Hotel rooms will soon be filling up again and naturally, your hotel should be getting ready to see the next high season’s occupancy percentage go through the roof. Optimizing your marketing strategies for the new landscape of travelers is more important now than ever. Let’s talk about how we think you can leverage your marketing techniques to increase guest bookings in the coming year.
1) Online Accessibility Across Platforms
Every hotel needs online visibility in today’s marketing environment – and not just good SEO for your direct booking website. Over 80% of all travel bookings are made online, and most of those are on travel booking platforms or booking widgets on broader platforms like Google or Facebook. While direct bookings are best for operating profits, filling your rooms will rely on visibility wherever guests are looking for rates. Or, put another way, 100% of nothing is not a good deal.
So take your campaign across every relevant booking platform with a sizable relevant audience. Make sure each entry is visible, beautiful, fully described in the details, and nearly identical across every platform. This way, even savvy online searchers who check multiple platforms will see great deals and tempting offers from your hotel every time – without your hotel having to rely on extra paid advertising like banner ads, etc.
2) Beautiful and Usefully Revealing Room Photos
Every brand knows that room details are essential for winning reservations. They need to know if there’s breakfast included, or if there is a fridge for medications or a microwave for takeout. Some won’t book a room if they can’t see a picture of the bathroom, and some compare room furniture or spaciousness before deciding.
Ensure your hotel room photos are not just beautiful, but also revealing in all the best ways, from the coffee-maker to the shower. You want each photo to be both an invitation to step into the frame and an informative piece of travel research material, geared towards the type of guest you do your best business with.
3) Stay In-Tune with Modern Traveler Needs
Right now, the travel industry is rebuilding after a sudden and profound change in demand. Travelers are still looking for luxury and now the single-serving individually wrapped style, classic to hotels, is exactly what they need. Create an experience of isolated luxury in your rooms and the way you decorate the lobby and equip the hotel amenities. Guests should feel that they can have the same vacation or business trip experience while the staff and hotel workflow ensure that their room and services are all safe and sterilized.
The style of your hotel will influence how you take the post-COVID strategy from there. Some venues specialize in helping guests feel connected to the area and to each other, so explore ways to market no-contact events, live digital gatherings, or individualized local experiences.
4) Regular Deals and Extras Visible on the Platform
When guests book on your site or on a third-party platform, most of them will be swayed by in-the-moment deals and opportunities. Everyone wants travel extras without the extra cost, and upselling starts with a tempting original offer. Ensure that each of your online listings features regular deals and extras that are extremely visible. List them on the room details and use the highlighting features made available by the platform to really put a spotlight on those current deals.
This draws attention to your listings and compares them favorably to the competition. You would be surprised to learn how many hotels totally miss this simple trick!
5) Overtly Reward Direct Booking and Customer Loyalty
Direct booking is better for the hotel’s profitability than third-party bookings, and return guests are always a reason to celebrate. So let your guest know just how much their booking is appreciated. Show guests who book directly and/or return to book again what a great time they can have in the hotel. Pull out all the stops and encourage your staff to use some of the energy saved up during the lull to overtly reward your direct-booking guests. Choose a few public ways to show off as well to encourage others to book directly and receive similar treatment. FOMO is a thing, especially on social.
6) Empower Your Mobile App for Guest Services
Right now, due to the health-focus on “contactless technology”, mobile app access to once-live services is a trend undeniably on the rise. Today’s professionals are looking for ways they can handle their travel 100% from their phones, even skipping the front desk and breakfast buffet. The more you can offer an integrated mobile experience for guests – before, during, and after their stay, the better.
Upgrade your mobile app, then advertise how guests can do everything from booking to customizing their experience to ordering room service and leaving reviews.
7) Build a Network of Incentives and Partnerships
Travelers today are limited to the experiences they can safely seek, but you can help. Remember the old days when the hotel Concierge knew how to get you into every VIP-list in town? A hotel is in the best possible position to connect with the local businesses that have successfully reopened. Partner with other local venues and services to give your guest a COVID-safe selection of options to enjoy being away from home.
Partner with restaurants who offer safe dining, or with tours that have adapted to social distancing. Help your guests get tickets to the aquarium or to spaced-seating live shows. Your network of partnerships will give guests a wide and rewarding choice, no matter what they want most from their stay.
8) Personalize Your Upselling Strategies
Personalization is the new name of the game for hotel marketing. This follows a cascading strategy, first by separating your marketing demographics and then to target each individual guest’s tastes. Use a combination of analytics and guest history to determine who is looking for your rooms and offer them exactly what they want. For example, a quick opening survey could help you determine if guests are looking for, say, a business trip, a romantic getaway, or a family outing. This is a great addition to the mobile app ideas, above.
9) Guest-Care Before, During, and After
Take care of your guests at every stage of the experience – before, during, and after their stay. Before their stay, share outreach content and help your guests pre-customize their room preferences before they arrive. Anticipate their arrival and make check-in easy with online and mobile tools. During their stay, cater to your guests and check in occasionally to make sure they are satisfied with the amenities and services.
After a guest has checked out, wait a short while before sending a post-stay experience message. Thank each guest for their stay and invite their open feedback on favorites, least favorites, and ideas for the future.
10) Strategies for Last-Minute and Same-Day Booking
Finally, remember to continue marketing right up to the line. Up to 75% of hotel room bookings are regularly cancelled and to maximize occupancy – you should keep marketing those rooms until the sign says “No Vacancy”.
Build an ad campaign that focuses on same-day and last-minute booking. For example, create campaigns about slipping away somewhere luxurious for the night, or those about solving travel emergencies with available last-minute rooms. Both campaign styles immediately market unreserved rooms and your hotel’s willingness to accommodate last minute and/or emergency requests.
If you are genuinely happy with low occupancy then please make your way through the exits located at the back and to the sides of the building. But, if you want to attract new guests using technology you are already familiar with – we’ve got you covered, center-stage! As a protel customer, you have access to all the technology needed to implement these strategies today. Reach out and see how we can help you to drive your occupancy through the roof!