What Should You Be Doing NOW
The president of Marriott announced in a heart wrenching speech online that they are making wide spread changes in the Marriott business model. Employees are facing lay-offs, members of management are not taking a salary, locations are closing, and they are pulling back on advertising entirely! You have probably already thought about the prospect of laying off your staff members, but you may be wondering what to do about your advertising. I would advise finding a place in the middle. Stay positive; travel will come back. It is unlikely that you have as many expenses as the Marriott corporation. But, in a crisis, cash is king and you need to be mindful of every dollar. There is mortgage relief and sba loans are available. In addition to these relief measures, you need to be proactive so that when travel does turn around, you are ready. Travel is a very important part of the human experience. Your positive attitude will help keep the industry alive.
Here are my 5 tips for marketing during the corona virus epidemic.
1. Remember: All Social Media is Social. People are interacting with eachother online now more than ever. People want to connect online because they are missing physical interaction. Stay active on all your social media channels and connect regularly with your past guests. Comment and like posts. Always be positive in your posts. I also encouraged my clients not to focus on things you are cleaning at the lodging, but that you have flexible policies and are willing to work with people. Everyone knows you clean, and to tell you the truth, no one wants to think about a dirty lodging. Focus on the benefits of lodging with you.
2. Get a message out there so that when people are ready to travel – they think of you. Travel is good for the heart – even if you are just dreaming about your next trip. This campaign you should start immediately. Use the hashtag specific to your town: #dreamingofCamdenMaine #dreamingoftravel #traveltuesday #travel #experiencecamdenmaine #travelmore. Instilling wanderlust now will pay off later. People at home want to be entertained with positive images.
3. Online Pay Per Click and Paid Advertising, Google Ads. Again I want to emphasize – cash is king during a downturn. You need to be savvy with your advertising dollars. You should continue to advertise but you need to be meticulous in the way you craft and target your ad. You should never put your ads on auto pilot. Instead, monitor the message and the timing of your ads. With Online Travel Agent (OTA) ads (Expedia, TripAdvisor and booking.com), your ads can be shown to people that are searching for specific days of the year ( the guests enter the dates they are searching for). Those online ads, like TravelAds in Expedia, should not be turned off, but set to be shown to people searching for future dates – not anytime in the next 2 weeks. Google Ads, it is not as easy to know what dates people are searching for. You can however schedule your ads to show at different times of the day, and target parts of the country. I would not target an international audience. If there is going to be a big announcement by the President, you might want to turn down your budget. You should not turn off a campaign completely. Campaigns need at least 3 weeks to be understood by bots and have recognition of relevance in the google algorithm. If you keep shutting them down and turning them off, you lose all your historic relevance. Keep them on – but be mindful of timing and budget.
4. Ask for Reviews. I know this sounds odd, but you will be surprised how many people want to help small business. Writing a review is a free way of showing your support of a small business. Reviews are important in helping your future guests feel confident in booking with you. In a time that we feel helpless, giving your guests an easy thing they can do to help, empowers them and feels like they can make a difference. And, they are making a difference, because travel is going to come back. I have been overwhelmed with the kind words people have been writing online lately. This crisis has truly made people reflective of the great travel experiences they have had.
5. Focus on SEO of your website presence. Now that you have some time on your hands, write thoughtful posts about things you want your guests to know. People are going to need a lot of reassurance when they decide to travel again. Share with your travel ideas and your local knowledge about your town. Share your recipes and gardening tips. This can also be used for your #dreamingofTravel campaign
I hope my list has empowered you as a lodging owner to feel a little bit more control in an changing economic time. Remember, we are all in this together. You are not being singled out – the whole word is changing. If you need help crafting you future travel messages, please reach out to SuiteRev for guidance – 207-236-9656.