Marketing Planning Tips for Hoteliers for Post-COVID-19

By Joe Bouch 

In this unusual time, you’re probably wondering what the economy will look like post-COVID-19.  Will it turn around quickly? Remain stagnant?

Of course, we wish we had the answer, but even the smartest economists in the world do not have a clear picture of what a post-COVID-19 world will look like. What we can tell you, however, is that the travel industry has not only survived past difficulties, but has always found a way to energize the human spirit in such a way that everyone gets aboard the “we can do this” train. There’s a belief that we can shake the dust off our shoes and get the world’s economy moving again—and traveling again.

Here are 10 business considerations for hoteliers for post-COVID-19:

  1. Don’t simply conclude that business is terrible, and that nobody will travel or vacation at my hotel or resort. Instead, presume that business is different, and we just need to adjust our plans accordingly. Assuredly there are many different communications approaches you’ve never tried before.
  2. It’s all about perspective. When you hear a statistic like “travel may be down 50% for at least a year following the COVID-19 crisis,” it actually means that 1.15 billion trips will be made in the U.S. alone in the next 12 months, compared to U.S. domestic travel of 2.3 billion trips in 2019. And the only unanswered question is: Who will get that business? Many see gloom when there is still plenty of opportunity—just not as much as before. Business is different. It’s all about perspective.
  3. Look outside. Can’t focus? Talk to an outside expert. Often, a fresh viewpoint is what you need to put your business in perspective. Strategic collaboration is 100% about finding partners who absolutely complement what you are doing, and share similar missions and values. That ultimately can help you think bigger and achieve bigger things.
  4. Try everything. If there were ever a time to leave no stone unturned, it’s now. Moving business forward in today’s environment will take everyone’s hard work, late hours and countless cold pizzas. But it will be worth it. Promise. While a short pause is understandable, it cannot be overemphasized how important it is for hoteliers to maximize the power of their marketing budget by utilizing media that is currently enjoying underpriced attention—allocating as much of their ad and content production budget as possible to these underpriced mediums.
  5. If it’s not already the case, immediately make marketing a team effort. Brainstorm ideas without bounds. This brings out the best in people and encourages folks with varied backgrounds to work together. Now is the perfect time to build out your sales tools, implement new operating procedures, organize your server files and enact other valuable refinements. Focusing on these types of projects is an investment into the future of your hotel—allowing your sales team to be better prepared, improve operational processes and increase efficiency.
  6. Figure out ways to stand out and get noticed. In today’s economic downturn, it is even more important to be different—to be loud, but simple, and to say something relevant, compelling and helpful to your audience. For example, with our new “stay-at-home” world, we just publicized that the webcam at one of our clients (a Southwest Florida beachfront resort) is perfect for viewing in real time the waves rolling in on the beach during the day and watching spectacular sunsets at night, from home. The message has been very well-received and was a nice way to keep the resort in front of its audience—both leisure guests and meeting professionals, as well as the local/regional market—in a way that is both subtle and of assistance.
  7. Meet and listen. A negative effect of COVID-19 has been that many companies have turned inward. Cut their budgets. Stopped meeting. Stopped talking. Stopped listening. That’s a big mistake. Meetings grease the engine of business enterprise. It is where commerce takes place and power-plans are born. Meet. Listen. Yes, online via Zoom or Google Hangouts. You won’t be disappointed.
  8. Get dirty. Quit standing on the sidelines when it comes to social marketing, white papers, blogging and the like. Right now, and ongoing, you should use these tools to the max, particularly with tight marketing budgets.
  9. Be creative! You might have the greatest hotel or resort in the world, but if your communications platform—messaging—is delivered in an uninspiring, unappealing way, you lose. Great creative makes your prospects look, think and act. Re-evaluate your messaging today and, if you need help, get it.
  10. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Yes, an age-old phrase, but true. Keep it simple. Keep it authentic. Don’t get distracted from who you are and what your mission is!

Be sure to take a proactive approach, so that a short-term crisis does not turn into a yearlong business downturn.

Joe Bouch is the president/CEO of 78Madison, a full-service, Orlando, FL-based marketing, digital, advertising, public relations and social media agency specializing in serving independent hotels and resorts.

This is a contributed piece to Hotel Business, authored by an industry professional. The thoughts expressed are the perspective of the bylined individual.