COVID-19 Recovery: Change Your Strategy, Not Your Budget
- Posted by Gabe Hoffman
- On March 27, 2020
Here at Screen Pilot, we understand that these are scary times. Our team is on the phone with hospitality marketers every day talking about the very real impact of COVID-19 on their properties. For some, that means closure. But while it’s true that a lot is changing every day, it’s not your budget that needs to change along with it. It’s your strategy.
In a study by Cornell University, they found that companies that continue to invest in marketing during a recession (and, although this one might look different, what we’re looking at right now is a recession) fair better both during and after the recession ends. This doesn’t mean that you keep the status quo and utilize the same strategies that you were using pre-COVID-19. You need to be nimble and make sure you set realistic and relevant goals with clear KPIs to measure success.
In another article, we outlined what strategies we recommend implementing right now. There will be short term savings as we see search volume decrease for both your branded searches as well as your unbranded terms, but once social distancing restrictions are lifted you’re going to want to use that budget that you were able to save due to lower search volume during the lowest times and use it once the floodgates open and all the hotels are all vying for the same piece of the pie.
Below are some additional strategy tips on how to adapt your marketing in the short term.
Maintain Your ADR
Don’t slash your rates in the short-term. What we’re dealing with right now is a health crisis and you aren’t going to convince guests to travel by giving them low rates. Most of your prospective guests probably want to travel, they just can’t. Instead, consider shaking up your messaging and investing in a strategy with a long-term return.
Hone In On Your Targeting
Target only the top 50% of individuals based on household income. Normally, this is a method that we reserve for higher-end and luxury properties, but with the current economic conditions and America seeing more people filing for unemployment in one week than any time in American history, a lot of people are feeling financial constraints that they aren’t used to. The top 50% HHIs are more likely to make it out of the other end of the pandemic with a desire and the means to travel.
Redefine Your Markets
Multiple publications have written that more Americans will plan more staycations and drive to their destinations rather than flying once they start do booking travel. While this intuitively makes sense and will be the case for a lot of destinations, nothing is a one size fits all solution. Be open to the idea that your prospective guests now might not be the same as the guests who booked with you at this time last year. Use the data you’re getting in Google Analytics to discover who is coming to your site, then craft better ways to reach them.
Plan for a Longer Booking Window
If you’re an urban hotel, your drive market is probably going to be your lowest hanging fruit. Assuming you’re still open, they may be open to planning a visit sooner than you think. But let’s say you’re a resort in a warm climate and social distancing lasts through June.
Now, you’ll have two months of typical drive market clientele before fall and winter come, and your guests are often flying from colder markets in search of a warm-weather getaway. Potential guests may be planning their winter getaway now because they have higher confidence that their day-to-day lives will be back to normal by then. Don’t miss out on these prospective guests by focusing too narrowly on your drive market and generating bookings immediately.
Get Ready to Recover
Once things return to normal, make sure you are leading with your best foot forward. This means doing the research to see what your best-performing package was before social distancing and start advertising as soon as it’s appropriate. Now isn’t the time to get too cute with your offers.
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