When COVID 19 broke out it disrupted travel patterns like never before.
NB: This is an article from Cayuga Hospitality Consultants
For the first time in a very long time consumers were afraid to travel, not out of a fear for their safety in the traditional sense, but for fear of being around other human beings. People did not want to be around people and risk contracting this newfound virus. And, to exacerbate the issue, this quickly became a global pandemic which placed a roadblock in front of travel the world over.
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The leisure customer cancelled their vacations, business travelers (the ultimate road warriors) stayed home and learned how to work virtually, and organizations put a stop to their meetings and conventions. Hoteliers quickly huddled to figure out how to respond to this challenge. Marketers slowed their efforts and began to think about how they could help lead the industry out of this predicament. They looked at this effort in phases realizing that consumer sentiment would be volatile.
Timing, messaging, geography, etc. were critical factors in the strategy. It became apparent that the leisure traveler would start the recovery. Hotels promoted their efforts to be clean, safe and just a car ride away. Resorts and hotels in destination markets promoted their outdoor possibilities. Marketers relied on digital, social and PR efforts to lead through the recovery process. We learned a lot from the early days of the pandemic to where we are today. Core to this process was the reaffirmation that the “customer mindset” and the “customer journey” should always be at the forefront of any marketing strategy.
Fast forward. One of the outcomes from COVID 19 was complete alignment around a well thought out digital marketing strategy. If you were to ask marketing leaders today who in their organization led their digital transformation the answer might surprise you. Meet COVID 19! Yes, the pandemic forced hotels to rethink their service and marketing strategies. To address guest safety concerns, touchless technologies were refined and new capabilities for apps were accelerated.
Electronic room keys, F&B service and miscellaneous service requests could all be satisfied without having to interact with human beings. Making the necessary investment in the digital guest experience was moved to the top of the list as spending was prioritized and if you haven’t already done that, you’re behind the curve.
New platforms and technologies that enable marketers to reach targeted audiences with relevant and timely messaging, establish clear ROIs, and provoke engagement have become mission critical. Developing a multi-faceted digital strategy that is modified throughout the customer journey will help hotels stand out online. Access to and engagement with more customers throughout their online booking journey will provide better results. Mandy Gill, Vice President, Marketing for Marriott International said, “today’s digital strategies need to be more dynamic with creative and messaging built for the specific marketing channel and incorporating today’s current trends.
For example, more people today are traveling with their pets and from our data we have seen targeted creative that includes dogs performing strong. We’ve also developed a robust collection of creative designed with tailored messaging to that specific customer and where they are in the shopping journey. We’ve thought about how customers interpret our ads and built out content that connects.”