Industry Update
Opinion Article13 August 2020

Hotel Marketing in the Summer of COVID

By Larry Mogelonsky, Managing Director Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited

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With a vaccine far off, the balance of 2020 and some of 2021 will find us working under a powerful COVID cloud. Marketing is still needed, though, as it's the lifeblood for driving awareness and generating demand. The summer months and early stretch of fall are critical for maintaining your current audience as well as finding new ones closer to home.

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While each property will have its own unique circumstances, there are some generalities that you can use to guide your budget planning. Below is a guide, not in any particular order of priority, split into those programs you should avoid versus those you should nurture.

Expenditures to Avoid

  • Public relations programs that are not targeting local and drive markets
  • Paying your PR agency it's full monthly rate as there isn't enough work or inherent value to justify these fees
  • Influencer marketing whereby with reduced operations staff you have no time to manage these individuals on-property while the actual return is dubious because many of these individuals won't have the majority of their audience in your desired markets
  • Event marketing as most have been cancelled and still too many travelers are afraid to congregate in any double-digit group
  • Wedding or catering marketing as both segments are on hiatus, although you can start formulating a plan for weddings in 2022
  • Traditional advertising, which is overpriced nowadays and has an even smaller audience with everyone trying to avoid physical objects due to their supposed ability to retain virus particles

Initiatives to Nurture

  • Cost-effective Facebook promoted posts with very specific geographic targeting
  • Closely targeted digital advertising programs where the viewership demographics closely match your target profile and local market
  • CRM-generated activities that harness the value of past guests and deliver promotions which are appreciated by your loyalty base and tested via one-to-one campaigns
  • Enrich your website and social networks with in-depth descriptions of experiential activities in your surrounding area as well as live chat options, all to keep the relationships with your fan base going
  • Local public relations programs including neighborhood sponsorships and charitable tie-ins that raise the profile of your property in the community
  • Rekindle relationships with local travel advisors, possibly by organizing a FAM, as these individuals will become trusted sources of safe travel destinations in the near-term
  • American Automobile Association programs for older demographics within driving range of your property

Despite any plans on reopening borders, there is that looming second wave and daily coverage of the virus in the news cycle that will keep many from venturing far from home for the rest of the calendar year. Now, more than ever, clever marketing managers will need to hone their skills over the summer months based upon this widespread reshuffling of demand. Challenge your team to user their creativity to deliver a tight and cost-effective approach.

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