COVID-19 Recovery Toolkit - Outreach and Marketing Strategy (Part 2)
We expect that the industry will recover in stages.
In our first article, we focused on a hotelier’s initial path to recovery and building an effective response plan. This article we are going to go deeper into creating an effective outreach strategy to get your story out to your customers.
The top question from our COVID-19 webinar series attendees has been—when will travel and tourism recover? Honestly, no one can tell you for sure. What we can tell you is that based on current trends and historical response to events like 9/11 and SARS epidemic, we expect that the industry will recover in stages; a lot of it depends on how states and countries loosen up the travel bans and restrictions and how industries account for factors like social distancing and updated best practices. Sojern is predicting domestic travel and drive markets to recover before international travel. We expect the first wave of recovery in certain markets and regions within the next 3-6 months.
Think about building your marketing strategy to adjust to nuances for each phase of recovery.
When travel starts to unpause, with lifts on travel bans, your efforts should be focused on building awareness and confidence in your brand. Once demand builds up, switch things around by converting hi-intent travelers through your Metasearch and retargeting efforts.
With a phased approach in mind, let’s take a look at how you can think about your outreach and marketing throughout your recovery.
What are the markers of this phase: When travel starts to unpause, with lift on travel bans and ease of Government restrictions; indicating initial spike in demand.
What to do during this phase: Focus on upper-funnel targeting and brand awareness. Time spent on social media platforms has significantly increased as people are looking to connect with the world while staying at home in the past weeks.
According to Google Trends, YouTube searches for travel topics are up 60% in the last 30-days. People are already dreaming of their next vacation and trying to recreate travel experiences near home. As part of this phase, most of the budget 60-80% should go to upper funnel efforts. This includes channels like Facebook, Instagram and Youtube. Add Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Metasearch to the marketing mix with the remaining budget.
You may think that no one wants to travel in phase one or at least not right away but there’s absolutely pent up appetite for travel; even if that means starting with weekend getaways and recreational experiences close to home. So, in this phase knowing your drive markets and offering unique promos, outreach, and communication will be key.
Think about lining up offers and promotions 60 to 120 days out to promote future stays, flexible check-in and check-out options, and credits for in-room dining experiences. Assess how you can make their plans more special and give them a better bang for their buck. Offer experiential packages with local tours and attractions, spa treatments or visit to the cooking classes with your head chef at the restaurant.
What are the markers of this phase: When travel ramps backup and demand strengthens. Your website visits and search volume spikes. Lead time or Days to Arrival for your bookings is shorter. Refer to Sojern’s Real-Time COVID-19 Travel Data Insights to learn more about the latest trends in your area.
What to do during this phase: Add low-funnel targeting to the mix. Targeting hi-intent travellers will be key to drive direct demand. Amp up your investment on Metasearch and Retargeting efforts. Make sure you are closely monitoring rate parity to drive direct bookings.
Shift budgets around to allocate 50% for Metasearch and retargeting efforts across all channels to convert hi-intent travelers effectively. Increase to 70-80% once you see traffic and bookings comparable to pre-covid volumes.
Leverage data to adjust your strategy and reflect shifts in travel demand.
With smaller budgets, it’s important to hone in on the right strategies and target audience. We recommend the following tips to achieve that:
It’s not just what channels you are on and which people you are reaching, it’s also important to think through the messaging you are using to inspire confidence. Reevaluate your current assets to ensure that your message is still relevant for the current environment. Update your creative assets and messaging with the goal of building confidence and showing empathy to customers. We will go into the latest trends and recommendations on Ad Creatives in the next article of the COVID-19 Recovery Toolkit series.
Until then, we at Sojern are here to provide you with full support and guidance on your strategy and approach so feel free to contact us with any questions. We can help you build your multichannel marketing campaigns across Social, Programmatic, Search and Metasearch with the right strategies to make up for lost revenue and ensure that you are set up for success.
Want more information from industry leaders on COVID-19 recovery? Check out our webinar series for the latest updates.
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“With any product and service, you have to spend time and resources to grow your customer base. Sojern provides us with an extremely effective way to increase our direct bookings and maximize guest lifetime value. The platform delivers impressive results, achieved with minimal time and resources invested by the team. It's a great product and service that I never have to sell to ownership–the results speak for themselves. Sojern seamlessly integrates into our marketing distribution, freeing us up to focus on other initiatives. When a program performs this well, I know we're making the right marketing investments.”
“Sojern is the top performing conversion partner that we've run for travel specific activities. I would definitely recommend investigating how to work with Sojern to my agency peers with travel clients. Their team is really proactive, and very quick on everything we need. We value the great quality in terms of reports and support the team provides, and on top of that, we also see activities perform incredibly well. So clearly, there's a lot going on in the back end to make sure we're hitting and meeting all of Sandals’ KPIs.”
“We were seeking a partner that could help us increase our direct booking share and reach, as well as overcome seasonality challenges. We looked at Sojern, which was very well recommended, and I can definitely say we made the right choice. Working with Sojern is so easy and reliable and the entire process is incredibly smooth and straightforward. Since joining Sojern we consistently convert new guests looking to visit the Caribbean, regardless of seasonality.”
“Working with Sojern, it’s not just a cookie-cutter solution, as Sojern listens to our needs and recommends what’s best for our hotel. We have someone to bounce ideas off of, and Sojern gives us a higher-level perspective on how we can get the best value for our investment.”
“We love the simplicity of the solution and how clearly we can see results. The technology works so well that it leaves us to do our other day-to-day jobs. We are seeing increased interest in our superior and deluxe rooms as a result, which is improving the overall average booking value. I think we will be long-time customers for as long as Sojern continues to perform the way it does today!”
We’re ready to help you take the guesswork out of your digital marketing. Contact us to tap into the travel industry’s most intelligent marketing platform.