While the global impact of COVID-19 on travel evolves from week to week, with market-to-market recovery being hard to predict, a recent survey conducted by Sojern of 500+ hoteliers worldwide indicates that they are aligned on key recovery post-COVID marketing strategies.
In terms of COVID-19 business impact, when are you expecting recovery to begin to occur?
42% of respondents believe we can expect to see signs of recovery in 4-6 months
While most respondents picked 4-6 months, you also see a good number of responses in the other categories. This reflects the fact that recovery is coming in different stages, and may depend on what market you’re in and your hotel type.
What are the signs you are looking for to indicate recovery?
54% of respondents are looking to government easing lockdown restrictions
The majority responded that they are looking for governments to ease lockdown restrictions. And as soon as that happens I think it’s fair to say that there will be a ton of pent-up consumer demand.
The hotelier feedback around this question also suggests that in combination with the government easing lockdown restrictions, there will be a need for people to feel safe with regard to starting to travel again —sticking close to home is a great way for travelers to “dip their toe in the water.”
This is also why you see a lot of hoteliers promoting that they are welcoming visitors with touchless check-in and sharing disinfecting processes in their new marketing campaigns.
How are you thinking about marketing, when recovery begins?
39% of respondents will have a very small budget, so marketing will be lower than pre-COVID
While 39% of hoteliers responded that they will have a smaller budget to start out, 23% plan on having the same budget amount allocated as before the pandemic. Very few – 19% fear to have no budget at all for marketing their hotel.
Regardless, we don’t recommend that hoteliers go dark right now as they should be focused on generating brand awareness, honing in on the local and drive markets, and advanced booking offers. Pay for performance models are an excellent way to achieve this without jeopardizing a small budget or no budget at all.
As you recover, are you considering changes to your distribution strategy?
39% of respondents are looking for more direct bookings, away from the OTAs
50% Continue with the same distribution mix 6% Other 5% More distribution to OTAs
50% responded that they will keep the same marketing mix, but a large proportion, 39% reported that they will be shifting more direct, away from OTAs. Noting that they are going to seize this opportunity to focus on driving as many direct bookings to the hotel’s website as possible.
We understand the importance of knowing the ever-changing trends in travel now more than ever. To help arm hoteliers, and all travel marketers, during this time, we’ve released a real-time insights dashboard that provides you with the latest travel trends. Additionally, if you want to hear more about how industry experts are tackling COVID, check out our weekly webinar series.