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Hotel Industry Revival Post COVID-19

(P.C.- Unsplash, @yuni_ladyday2)

As the popular saying goes, ‘Time and Tide, wait for none’, this is applicable for everyone and every sector across the globe, not only in general parlance but also in practical observation, especially after battling a pandemic on such a huge scale. COVID-19, was unexpected for many of us, and had caught us unawares, but unfortunately, despite knowing the fact that the virus is wreaking havoc, nothing substantial could be done to offset that, unfortunately, not only business but personal lives of people was the worst affected, with many people being rendered jobless, homeless and many losing their family members.

The Hotel, Travel and Tourism industry is one of the largest employers worldwide, but the pandemic has dealt a huge blow to the industry per se, and USA being no different, but as they say, ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going’; the hotel and travel sector is no different, though it has suffered comparatively bad as compared to other industries but all hope’s not lost, as per a report by Statista, ‘Revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2020-2025) of 21.8%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$113,367m by 2025.

Below is a graph represented by Neil Patel indicating the impact of COVID-19 on the traffic across various industries:


So here are some of the steps, that you as hoteliers, irrespective of the size of your business can take to market yourself prudently and emerge successful out of this pandemic; but one thing which has to be kept in mind, before progressing forward is, that you need to keep a healthy budget allocated specifically for the purpose of marketing, though undoubtedly the times are hard and the near possibility of the sector picking up the same pace as pre-COVID levels seems a little tough, but it should be kept in mind that this is an investment for your business’s future, once when normalcy starts trickling in, that is when you can reap benefits of your wise decision:

  1. First and foremost, work and assess your current Digital Marketing strategy- Before taking any step, it is important to evaluate your current digital marketing strategy. Having a good digital marketing strategy is the need of the hour, especially during such times when people are hardly venturing out of their homes and have whole and sole access to the digital world, thus, building a strong online presence and subsequent visibility should be your priority. In times like these, when finances are tight, digital marketing has and visibly taken precedence over other forms of marketing, because it is economical, faster and effective than others. A well thought of and planned e-mail marketing campaign and a social media campaign if directed to the right audience, shall fetch the optimum results. It is best to get hyper-segmented with your target audience; here you should think creatively by not only using the already famous social media platforms, but also use other channels productively by reaching out to new customer base.
  2. Update your Google My Business Page, with immediate effect- It is important to let your customers know if there has been any change in your business operations after re-opening of your business, post COVID, i.e. the timings, business description, any updated contact numbers, etc. Since, customers are your priority, they should be the first to know about any such changes, this shall be convenient for them and also improve your Google rankings significantly.
  3. Optimizing your website and SEO strategy – As they say, ‘It’s better to be safe than sorry’, once the pandemic slows down, the demand will slowly but surely pick up and it is best to be prepared for the incoming surge. Although hotels, be it big, small or boutique have some or the other kind of online presence and many have a dedicated website, but now you can directly tap into the customers who are approaching you for making a reservation at your property. The main factor here is to offer a valuable and a clear proposition to your potential audience and the extra benefits, they shall have access to if they book directly from your portal.

 You can discuss some strategies with your finance guys and other stakeholders, who can suggest some novel ways to entice people who book directly from your website. Not only that, your website should be high on aesthetic value, ease of navigation and apt description, because since you are operating in the leisure industry vertical, thus, here looks, feel and ease of your services visual presentation, go a long way. You can also capture audience with the help of lead generation, wherein every e-mail id entered or any other contact detail shared, shall act as a way to capture potential customer.

If there’s a provision for loyalty points for your hotel business, then even that should be mentioned and highlighted on your website, this is to encourage and motivate the consumers and make them feel a sense of privilege; in here you can optimize your loyalty program further, based on the spending capacity and profile of the existing customers.

Not only this, you can track those customers, who left their booking incomplete on your portal, by sending them reminder mails as well as targeting them with ads on their frequently visited website, this is called as cart abandonment re-marketing.

Having a proper SEO strategy can boost your website’s ranking on various search engines, therefore using proper long-tailed keywords in your content, can enhance your performance and enhance customer footfall on your website due to better visibility.

  1. Maintaining a continuous communication channel with your customers- People, per se aren’t able to undertake travel due to obvious reasons, but still it would be a great idea to share your offerings with them on a regular basis, especially in times like these, where everyone is looking for a positive change and needs a break from the monotonous life pattern. Therefore, it is a wise decision to communicate frequently with your consumers, you can tell them about:
  • Steps taken to protect your hotel staff and property
  • Any discounts, packages and offerings
  • COVID and its impact on the local area, nearby to the hotel
  • How do they plan to ensure a safe experience for the guests, etc

It is imperative for you to maintain a continuous, effective and an affable line of communication with your customers, because the hotel industry is all about maintain a healthy lasting bond with the people, at large. Here you can use multiple social media channels to reach out to people, be it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. because every platform caters largely to a different sector of audience, thus your marketing strategy has to crafted specifically for each platform and a consistent outreach has to be there.

Then of course, there can be direct communication from your end, be it via your blogs or the traditional yet most effective way of e-mail marketing.

  1. Get the best out of OTA’s- Having an online presence, especially during the COVID-19 is of utmost necessity, because you have to be there where your audience is, not only this helps in generating revenues for your business, but also helps in expanding your consumer base. Therefore, having many OTA connections, will always yield the best results for your business, presuming that your business is already enlisted on many OTA’s, engaging with other OTA’s shall open your brand to many new customers, who might access newer OTA’s instead of the older ones. While you do enlist yourself on OTA’s, it is important to mention and draw attention to the services provided at your property, the star rating, room types, cancellation policy, check-in and check-out times, etc.

 It is also important to continuously track and analyze your performance on the OTA’s, it’s not a one-step process, because having a continuous positive ranking on the OTA’s shall not only boost customer perception about you, but also ensure more bookings for your property.

  1. Ensure best use of Meta-search engines- So as we know Meta-search engines like Trivago, Google Hotel Ads, Trip Advisor etc., help customers compare hotel property prices reflected across different OTA’s and aid people in making a booking and this trend won’t come down, but might just go up. Therefore, it’s a good idea to enroll yourself with a couple of popular meta-search engines, if not already there, not only shall they help you enhancing your customer base, drive more of direct bookings, increase your revenue, improve your brand visibility as well as improve your brand value and reputation, amongst other benefits.
  2. Make best use of Analytics to drive up your reach – Analytics is the best tool to help you drive up outreach and know more about your existing customer preferences and predict nearly accurately regarding the behavior of your potential customers. You can compare past and present trends to know and prep up yourself regarding the anticipated changes, what matters here is how pro-active you are, and here is where a digital marketing agency can help you in preparing a solid base by focusing on the detailed micro-aspects like data analysis, frequent A/B webpage testing for CTA tabs, A/B testing for your e-mail based marketing campaign, etc. so that you can easily focus on building a macro plan to strategize and optimize your marketing plan to make the best use of this time and are able to bide the tide by wisely investing your time and resources to capture the lost ground due to the pandemic.

We really hope that these above-mentioned strategies shall help you in kick-starting your journey on the way to recovery of your business, the times have been challenging for all and still, there’s a lot of unpredictability still looming around us, but if you take certain pro-active measures, then undoubtedly you can successfully overcome the challenges and see the business bouncing with more vigor.  Do reach out to us and we shall be more than happy to help your business grow to abound.

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