Guest Outreach and Retention | COVID-19's Effect on the Hotel Industry

COVID-19 has caused a great loss of revenue for hospitality providers. Your usual guest demographic may be drastically depleted which means that you are now in dire need to attract new visitors in order to compensate for these losses.

Having to draw up an entirely new marketing plan might be a little too much a little too late, but thanks to social media outreach you have a chance of turning the tide in your favour. You have several venues which you can use to create a more effective online marketing campaign, namely:

Your Hotel Website
The low traffic of guests might offer you ample time to finally set up and start creating blog posts for your website. Naturally, the content you produce will be focused around creating a positive vibe and redirecting potential guest attention towards all the good things that they can draw from a stay at your establishment.
Blog posts are often underrated as a form of traffic generation tool, especially in hospitality, where there’s too much to do on a daily basis to try and schedule in several articles per week. However, now that there is a deeper need for generating interest in your business, no venue should go unexplored.
If you are uncertain where to begin, consider the type of guest you are trying to attract:
  • A staycation, who is looking to for a getaway but is unwilling to travel a long way during a pandemic;
  • A young family with small children in dire need of relaxation after homeschooling for half a year;
  • Adventurers who have postponed international travel until the global issue is resolved, and have instead opted to travel more locally and explore the history and colour of their own country;
Plan out a month’s worth of posts for each group and create a posting schedule for more consistency. Also make certain that each of the posts links a banner to your booking engine as a shortcut meant to motivate guests to take action now, instead of deferring to a later time.
Collaborate with local businesses, (golf courses, adventure clubs, wildlife organizations) - after all, you are trying to create a more vivid picture of the city where your hotel is based. You can even work with them in the form of contributors, they create the content and you redirect guests who express interest to their business.
Hotel Social Media
Social media has its own unwritten rules. In platforms such as Twitter posting daily just for the sake of keeping up with appearances, is seen as desperate and needy, hence why there are so many instances of brands committing twitter faux pas by jumping on a hashtag whose relevance they do not understand. Instagram, however, rewards content creators for daily posts and Instagram fame can go a long way in getting brands the attention they seek.
Consider how you present yourself online, how often you post and what you post about. Overposting can do a lot of damage to your brand as potential guests can become agitated with the frequency at which they are targeted and be put off by your brand. One way for your hotel to avoid this fate would be to involve influencers.
Provided there is no real specification as to what makes up an influencer, you can go about this in two main ways:
  • Contacting influencers with less than 500 000 followers who live in your hotel’s area and offering them a free weekend at your hotel in exchange of at least two posts about your hotel;
  • Seeking out a paid advertisement from influencers with more than a million followers;
Obviously this would depend on what you can spend as a paid post on Instagram can vary between 10,000 and 60,000 US dollars for people with a following in the millions, but the results are tangible. However, the general public is still wary of travelling and this could backfire if the influencer faces backlash for going on a holiday during a pandemic.
On the other hand, by focusing on locals who have real engagement in their comments (paying for followers is still a real thing) and are still in the hundreds of thousands in their follower count you are limiting the chance of backlash, and you are doubling engagement posts on one of your main social media channels without creating spam content.
Use social media to engage with guests and establish yourself as a business which invests actual care into their practices. Encourage guests to share their stories online and share throwback posts from some of your highlight reels. Nostalgia content plays well into the dreaming phase of planning a trip. If guests see something that does not look fully curated but instead comes across as organic and authentic they are more likely to see themselves in it and consider undertaking it.
Email Campaign
Loyalty outreach can go a long way to maintain connections with your most valuable guests. Unlike posting about your establishment on public forums emails campaigns are aimed directly at people who have already enjoyed your hospitality.
You first need to flush out any dead e-mails and unresponsive contacts. Having a small pool of contacts that actually respond to your message can give you a better understanding of how effective your campaign is. A large database of inactive contacts can only create confusion as to how effective your outreach is, which can lead you to constantly shift between posting strategies and end up alienating your active contacts as well.
Consider making up a list of guests who have had a cancellation due to lockdown, and target a special offer created exclusively for them. Your room rates are in all likelihood already lower than they were a few months ago which will make it easier for them to take you up on it if they chose to.
Consider making up a list of guests who have had a cancellation due to lockdown, and target a special offer created exclusively for them. Your room rates are in all likelihood already lower than they were a few months ago which will make it easier for them to take you up on it if they chose to.

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About Clock Software

Clock Software is a global provider of cloud-based property management systems (PMS), integrated online distribution, online & kiosk hotel self check-in solutions and mobile & in-room guest engagement systems with customers in more than 65 countries.