More than two years into the coronavirus pandemic, it feels as if there is finally a bright spot on the horizon for the hospitality industry. Local pandemic-related restrictions have eased, and group business reports from across the United States suggest that hotel occupancy across the country is increasing to levels closer to those seen in 2019.
These figures, and our own lived experiences, highlight that there is increased demand for hotels.
We also know that the demand for in-person events is already there. In fact, Cvent's proprietary data shows that March 2022 had the highest monthly sourcing volume in two years, and room reservations made through our systems in March 2022 were 95% of March 2019 levels. If these data points are any indication, this trend will only continue to accelerate as enterprises recall the benefits of bringing people together.
Yet even with all this promise on the horizon, reports of rapid inflation in the United States are causing consumers and businesses to be more cautious about how they spend their money. This, in addition to the large influx of new planners to the industry, more event types to manage, and a bustling, busier post-pandemic environment, has made it more important for venues to stand out. That is why it is vital that hotels-and the hoteliers that manage them-are prepared to take advantage of this new era of travel and events by setting themselves apart through a strong marketing plan.
That is where content marketing comes into play.
In order to market themselves and their offerings in the best, most effective way possible, hotels now need to create dynamic, interactive online content to attract and engage planners - whether in the form of microsites, blogs, videos, or immersive virtual tours and 3-D space diagramming. This content needs to be multifaceted and multipurpose-able to tell a venue's story while simultaneously highlighting its differentiators to give planners the information they need to make critical sourcing decisions. With hoteliers in charge of this online content, it is vital that they embrace the evolving expansion of their roles as content marketers.
Why Content Marketers?
In reading this, the obvious question (or perhaps frustration) that comes to mind for many hoteliers is "Why?" Market environments notwithstanding, isn't this really the purview of the IT or social media teams? Why should hoteliers take up the mantle of developing and marketing content as well, in addition the many roles they're already taking on?
It's not news to anyone that a lot has changed, particularly for the hospitality and events industries. The opportunity for hoteliers to be content marketers is the next iteration of that transformation-reflecting a new normal in the dynamic partnership between event professionals and hoteliers. As I wrote back in September 2020, the relationship between these partners has evolved, and will continue to evolve, dramatically due in large part to the impact of technology and the rapid digitization of the events industry, which was already in motion before the acceleration brought on by the pandemic. As a result, there are three key realities that venues must keep in mind:
Hoteliers need to impress planners who are being pulled in more directions than ever.
As I alluded to above, the role of event planners has expanded to encompass a wide range of new and integrated tasks-from business strategy to technology expertise-and planners are themselves busier than ever in handling every component of the total event program across virtual, hybrid and in-person gatherings. Therefore, it is critical that hoteliers break through the noise, get noticed, and impress event professionals, before even having a chance to speak with them or show their property.
- Relationships may need to be rebuilt-or newly forged. As with virtually every other sector of the American economy, pandemic pressures and the so-called "Great Resignation" have led to significant personnel changes in the meeting and events industry. From turnover in the planner community to shifts in hotel staffing, the personal relationships from pre-pandemic simply might not be there anymore, and many need to be re-established.
- Everything is moving much more quickly. Even after two years, local and federal guidelines and mandates continue to change, leaving plans prone to rapid changes as well. With in-person events coming back, hoteliers and planners alike recognize that they need to jump on opportunities when they present themselves-making it imperative to develop proposals quickly and/or provide an environment that can be readily adapted to reflect any necessary adjustments. Conveying this flexibility will allow hoteliers to react to new trends in how planners and guests are using hotels, in real-time. Venues that are able to adapt and rapidly learn the business that they do not already know will have greater chances for success.
Content marketing can address the facts of all three of these realities by allowing hoteliers to maintain consistent communications with planners and other customers-especially in moments when there are limits (safety, financial, or otherwise) to connecting in-person, face-to-face. That said, learning content marketing is more than a makeshift solution to pandemic-era issues and conditions. The truth of the matter is that mastering these skills will give hoteliers the competitive edge necessary to secure group business both now and years down the line because the future of the industry will hinge on who can market the most compelling content to the right audiences at the right time.
Cvent is a leading meetings, events, and hospitality technology provider with nearly 4,000 employees and more than 200,000 users worldwide. Founded in 1999, the company delivers a comprehensive event marketing and management platform and offers a global marketplace where event professionals collaborate with venues to create engaging, impactful experiences. The comprehensive Cvent event marketing and management platform offers software solutions to event organizers and marketers for online event registration, venue selection, event marketing and management, virtual and onsite solutions, and attendee engagement. Cvent's suite of products automate and simplify the entire event management process and maximise the impact of in-person, virtual, and hybrid events. Hotels and venues use Cvent's supplier and venue solutions to win more MICE and corporate travel business through Cvent's sourcing platforms. Cvent solutions optimise the entire event management value chain and have enabled clients around the world to manage millions of meetings and events. For more information, please visit Cvent.com/uk, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.