Long Live Lodging accomplished a first: a completely virtual hospitality conference on April 30th. There was a plethora of topics covered to discuss recovery and projections post-Coronavirus.

Skip to the bottom for the full replay, or scroll through the highlights of the discussion.

Stephanie Smith of Cogwheel Marketing participated on the panel: Marketing for Future Guests along with:

The marketing panel covered these BIG questions:

What does recovery look like?  When will it happen?  Who will travel first?  How do we get to them first?  When can we start selling again?

  • Each market will recover at their own pace, but it is a safe assumption that local, transient market will be the first to travel. Look to market those within drive radius, around 100 miles.
  • When occupancy reaches 40%, then you have a base to potentially start prospecting for group or business transient business again.
  • Data is showing the intent to travel is anywhere from 3-6 months from now, however, this number is nothing to hold on to too tightly. As people go back to work, many will still feel uncomfortable traveling whether that is safety or taking off work after so much such time away.

What should we be doing right now?  Are there marketing channels and target audiences that we can and should be going after?

  • Lean into social media and email marketing as communication channels, not sales channels. Leave anything too sales-y on the sidelines for now.
  • Create a tiered plan that aligns with each segment as it starts to rebound.
  • Work on becoming agile so you can pivot fast as the market changes. Take a look at your current strategy, figure out where your bottlenecks are and what is keeping you from moving faster then fill in those gaps. You can’t take a month to get out a marketing campaign anymore.

What kind of messages will work? What channels or methods will be most effective?  What can we do today to prepare for tomorrow?

  • Communicating your cleanliness routines is a given.
  • Communicate how guests are going to be kept safe for the foreseeable future.
  • Focus on community involvement and highlighting employees.
  • Take this time to familiarize yourself with your local regulations regarding social distancing and work that into your meeting room and common area capacity information for group business.

How can hotels save money? What free resources exist?  If our marketing budget has been slashed, can we still get results?  Should we even bother?  What should we be spending?

  • Do not be quick to start back on meta advertising, even with lower CPCs. If someone is already on your Google My Business or TripAdvisor page, forget channel mix for a while and let the OTAs get the transaction. Focus on converting other parts of the funnel.
  • Renegotiate your vendor contracts
  • Leverage the information you already have from your business intelligence tools to improve your revenue opportunity.

The next round was speed questions where each panelist should give a short answer, in a few words for each question.

What is one thing a hotelier should do today to prepare for post-quarantine marketing?

  • Close your go to market strategy gaps
  • Train your employees
  • Have a plan A, B and C. Best case, worst case and average case scenario
  • Check all listings and website amenities for accuracy
  • Become more agile

What tool or resource should our audience look into/learn about now?

  • Google Trends
  • Focal Revenue
  • Facebook Ads
  • Cross-training on existing Business Intelligence (BI) tools

What is one common hotel marketing practice that you hope goes away after quarantine?

  • Silo-ed Marketing Campaigns
  • Making decisions without data
  • Sharing of knowledge (should stay!)
  • Last Click Attribution

What is a piece of advice you are seeing out there that you think hoteliers should ignore?

  • Advertise in metasearch
  • Don’t expect the same level of service as before
  • Using automation
  • Take it easy on social media and email marketing
  • Try not to focus too much on speculation of what will bounce back first and when

Please feel free to reach out to any of the knowledgeable panelists for more information!

Watch other videos from the LodgingStream Conference on the Long Live Lodging website.