As the seismic patterns of public behavior shift due to the after-effects of pandemic-related uncertainty, hotel marketing departments will be looking for fresh, original, and new ways to market themselves to the public. Think of the disruption patterns of the tech industry: We used to take taxi cabs, for example; now most of us take ride shares. We used to stand in line for a bank teller; now we deposit a check by taking a picture of it.
Just as the companies in Silicon Valley want to change the ways that we have done things for decades upon decades, so the hotel marketer should look to break out of the business-as-usual box–in order to remain competitive and, ultimately, to thrive. We have already covered the subject of reopening after the COVID-19 lockdown; now, let’s look at your marketing strategies.
How Hygienic Are You?
When a guest unlocks the door to their room, they want to know that they’re not in danger of contacting a nasty virus inside, whether it be left behind by a staff member or a previous guest. Common practice will be to seal a cleaned room with a sticker that the guest will break upon taking possession of the room. This also means that, if a guest is unsatisfied with their room and is immediately moved to another, the old room will need to be resanitized. Your hygiene policies should be a major part of your new marketing campaign. Guests want to feel safe when they stay at a hotel. Once upon a time, they just wanted to feel safe from the outside world. Now they want to feel safe from illness and illness-related death.
What Alternate Uses Are Available?
More along the lines of disruption marketing: Who else can your hotel appeal to beyond typical travellers? For example, could you provide packages that are as attractive as existing corporate housing services–complete with furnishings suitable for long-term rentals–or do you function better in competition with short-term rentals? Could you provide RV camping services in your parking lot, with power and water hookups? Barring that, can you establish friendly relations with RVers and #vanlifers by allowing them to stay overnight in your parking lot, sans hookups? This would certainly establish word-of-mouth brand goodwill. Continuing along the brainstorm: For our coastal brethren, can your hotel serve as a functionary with passengers en route to or from cruise ships?
How Hip is Your Food & Beverage Program?
The amenities guests look for will also change–or, to be more accurate, grow. Guests may be less likely to want to go out for a drink or to eat a meal, either inside your own restaurants and bars or out in the town. Instead, they will want to order in and feel like they’re still getting something worth writing home about. This could mean not only rebranding your in-house food and beverage options, but taking them to a whole new level.
On the beverage side you could offer batch cocktails, craft beer from local, independently-owned breweries, and natural wine, all without the typical room service (or minibar) markup. Offer higher quality for less money to establish buzz. On the food side, seek out chefs and kitchen staff who want to make their mark on the scene, rather than corporate stalwarts who are just there to collect a paycheck. Serve elevated cuisine with a lower markup, and reap the rewards.
Will Digital Nomads Like Your Hotel?
Finally, your guests might be working more as they travel. Are you providing fast, secure wi-fi–not just the same open network that scares off anyone with any real tech savvy? Are there photocopy machines and printers available? Appealing to digital nomads will go far in this new age of post-COVID travel.