COVID-19 Recovery Toolkit - Outreach and Marketing Strategy (Part 2)
We expect that the industry will recover in stages.
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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I’ve definitely seen increased bookings. In fact, January through March is usually a quiet period for us, but this year, leisure bookings are double what we normally see, and this is due to Sojern. As a small hotel, I really value the relationship we've built with the Sojern team. You can tell when someone is genuine and willing to work with you, and I feel that with Sojern.
I worked with Sojern at a previous hotel and had a great experience, so I knew I wanted to partner with them when I joined Ticino Hotels Group. Their Pay on the Stay package gives us a cleaner, more reliable business model to help with our direct booking strategy, and we’ve seen the results. To anyone considering Sojern for their digital marketing needs—I say go for it!
"Working with Sojern has been a game-changer for us, it has really helped to move the needle. They are by far the top-performing partner that we work with, and also the one that requires the least amount of effort from my side. They have a direct impact on my website bookings, with revenue that I wasn’t making before."
Looking to learn more about Connected TV to meet your branding goals? Interested in metasearch and direct booking strategies to help your independent hotel? We’ve got detailed reports that address your every marketing need.