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COVID-19: Where are hospitality brands heading with digital marketing? Part 2

We’ve already taken a look at how and when hospitality brands can anticipate recovery in travel interest through looking at microtrends and identifying patterns between pervious epidemics and COVID-19. Now, we’ll explore what brands in the travel and hospitality sector can do to bounce back via nurturing travel confidence, increasing brand awareness and encouraging enriched bookings.

Maintaining morale

At their core, travel and hospitality brands focus on offering positive experiences. This should be no different during a pandemic. Since lockdown came into force, we have seen brands go above and beyond to boost morale and help house-bound consumers maintain a sense of normality.

For instance, international brand EDITION Hotels live-streams DJ sets from empty clubs on Friday nights – which have been watched by 1.4 million users in China. This activity reveals an emerging trend of hospitality brands temporarily shifting away from conversion-focused marketing and instead concentrating on providing a service to help those at home feel more positive.

Looking to the future

We are also seeing a month-on-month increase in search and consumption of entertainment content, further indicating a desire for respite from coronavirus-related content. With this in mind, many travel and tourism brands such as VisitBritain and Marriott Hotels, are looking to inspire via their organic and paid social media. Stepping away from the saturated ‘Letter from our CEO’ COVID-19 communications, digital strategies should utilise social media to give consumers reassurance that things will return to normal. Marriott’s ‘We Will Travel Again’ campaigns utilises videos containing awe-inspiring content of stunning locations, whilst Skyscanner has created a bespoke short film entitled ‘We Will – encouraging consumers to think about where they will go when they can travel again.

Organic and paid social media activity now focuses on encouraging people to think about their future travel plans as form of escape.

Enriched Bookings

COVID-19 has undoubtedly altered the way people plan and book travel.

Many hotels are focusing on offers to capture aspirational Q3 and Q4 2020 bookings. However, dropping rates may not necessarily translate into sales as low prices are no longer enough to provide reassurance. As such, we are seeing a gradual shift towards enriched sales where consumers take into consideration the following factors before completing a booking:

  • Detail of location: is the accommodation central enough to have key attractions and things to do nearby?
  • Facilities: do the on-site facilities offer a home-away-from home stay?
  • Flexibility: can a booking be rearranged conveniently and without additional cost?
  • Level of service: is there access to home comforts and luxuries?
  • Compassion: does the brand anticipate consumers’ needs and is it proactive in the services it provides?
  • Cleanliness: are rooms cleaned frequently and professionally?
  • Entertainment: are the on-property leisure facilities above average?

Adapting to current consumer behaviours, hotels’ digital marketing strategies need to draw attention to the above consumer pain points. 

With domestic leisure and business travel expected to start recovering as early as July 2020, hospitality brands can nurture bookings during these challenging times by shifting the focus away from promotional contractions and reassuring audiences. Maximise recovery by concentrating on flexibility, cleanliness and experiential offering.

If you would like advice on how to adapt your digital marketing strategy to encourage bookings and bounce back from these challenging times, contact us on 0800 612 9890. We’d love to hear from you.