Question for Our Hotel Marketing Expert Panel

Keeping well connected with our guests has been particularly challenging during the pandemic. What tips can you share for maintaining guest interest and keeping engagement high?

Industry Expert Panel

Our Industry Expert Panel exists out of professionals within the hospitality & travel Industry. They have comprehensive and detailed knowledge, experience in practice or management and are forward-thinking. They are answering questions about the state of the industry. They share their insights on topics like revenue management, marketing, operations, technology and discuss the latest trends.

Kaylie Holley
Kaylie HolleyFounder, Up Travel Marketing

“Staying in front of your guests and sharing varied content and personal experiences is crucial for maintaining guest interest and keeping engagement high. Social Media is an effective way to do this. Whether your hotel is open or closed, there are many opportunities to communicate and share with a captive audience.

Staying in front of them keeps you top of mind when they begin to make travel plans again. We’ve been given a unique opportunity to be strategic with our messages and communications. Now is a good time to evaluate how best to proceed when we emerge from the pandemic and our doors are fully open again.”

Teri Friesen
Teri FriesenDirector Brand Management, Accor for Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts

“We found that customers quickly became fatigued by the “we’re all in this together” messaging that many major brands were using to show compassion during a time of severe uncertainty. This inspired us to take a different approach and create a phased communication plan to ensure we kept our connection with our guests alive, even when they were not able to visit our hotels, restaurants, and bars.

We began with a period of fact-based information sharing & reassurance, i.e., what we were doing to ensure our hotels were safe. We then moved into a phase of inspiration, with content designed to engage customers with ways they could enjoy and enhance their time at home with loved ones. For example, cooking and baking demonstrations and a competition inviting our community to share their most cherished memory of their time during confinement. We were flooded with responses and were delighted to see the creativity, kindness, and resilience of our guests. When the hotels began to re-open in many markets, we launched a campaign (#picktimetogether) to show the joyful experiences you can have in our hotels with the people in your close circle or pandemic bubble.

Where appropriate for the market, we have simultaneously incorporated the final phase of the plan – promotion. There is certainly a pent-up desire to travel, dine and celebrate outside the home, and we want to ensure our hotels are top of mind as the recovery gains momentum.”

Alessandro Inversini
Alessandro InversiniAssociate Professor of Marketing and Director of the Institute of Customer Experience Management, Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne

“Connecting with guests is essential nowadays. However, I feel the pandemic has significantly impacted the way hoteliers (and businesses in general) should connect with guests and/or customers. It is no longer about dreaming of the actions to take in the future, but rather the “why”. When a guest/customer is faced with several different opportunities, why are they going to choose us again?

Therefore, the ultimate question should be related to the differentiating consumer value our organization provides to customers, i.e., what would help convince them to choose us. This should be coupled with a detailed assessment and specific segmentation of the customer base. Only in this way can customer communication transcend the “dreaming”, allowing organizations to engage on a deeper level.”

Colleen Buckley
Colleen BuckleyHospitality Marketing Executive

“Although you may not have connected in-person during the pandemic, it’s now even more critical to stay engaged with your guests and continue building relationships with them, even if they are not in the purchasing mode. Three ways to keep engagement high are as follows:

1. Content is King! Creating engaging content will keep your communities interested, inspired, motivated to support your brand and share your message, both in & out of the pandemic. Master the art of authentic storytelling; dig deep into the brand history, people, products, destinations, culture, food, traditions, products, and experiences. Find what makes them unique and tell the story, highlighting how it relates to your brand experience. Also, it is key to let your community know everything your brand is doing to keep them safe, both during the pandemic and when they can return in person.

2. Distribution is Queen! Once you have great content, make sure that you interact with your community on all platforms and channels, including social media, website, mobile, email, etc.

3. Keep a consistent posting calendar across all platforms. Reply to every comment and be transparent. This will help build trust and your community. Ask your community what they would like to know. Engage with them and start a conversation. If appropriate for your brand, create a Facebook Group(s) or Reddit Board where your community can gather, pose questions, start conversations, give feedback, etc. with other community members and the brand.”

Reshan Jayamanne
Reshan JayamanneDigital Marketing & Sales Strategist, Bnb Optimized

“Being human! If the pandemic has proven one thing, it’s that deep human connection is what we desire. Isolation and global lockdowns have demonstrated this, and Marketing should harness that emotion by creating a strategy to foster a deep, human, one-to-one connection with target audiences.

How can this be achieved at scale? One suggestion I’ve made to my clients is to create more videos.

Impromptu videos of them doing what they love, shot simply using their phone while sharing specific stories and experiences of their business.
From small B&Bs to large chain hotels or resorts, raw & impromptu videos are proven to convey genuineness and a sense of relatability. This is what the world is craving at the moment.

One example is a re-engagement video email to connect / re-connect with your existing email list. First, create an authentic video. Add a video thumbnail to your email, linking to a personalized landing page where your video is hosted. Be sure to have a tracking pixel in place on your landing page to help you track those who have expressed an interest in engaging with your brand. Once you have this tracking data, a small budget will help you to re-engage with your existing audience and share videos with them to test your content’s engagement value. At a later stage, you could use the highest performing content to bring in cold audiences, but re-engaging an existing customer is much cheaper than fishing for a new one.

Being human also means speaking like one. Avoid the corporate jargon and write as you would to a friend. We see this happening already with Airbnb TV adverts. They show simple, square images (on a landscape TV, not filling the entire screen) of people taking very average photos, just enjoying themselves and with zero corporate jargon. Nothing fancy, just being human.”

Linda Bekoe
Linda BekoeCEO, APLBC

“I think during these times, wellbeing is such an important factor. With “zoom fatigue” kicking in, it’s important to constantly engage with your customers to give them tips.

It is also important for you to give pre-arrival updates to guests so that they are aware of your property rules, as well as the current pandemic status in your town or country. Information is key for guests so they can stay well updated and make informed decisions.”

Nicolas Lajambe
Nicolas LajambeHead of Ecommerce, Freehand Hotels & Generator Hostels

“For maintaining guest interest, I think you need to show that you’re connected with your clients, that you understand the new situation and their new ways of travelling. For us, it means adapting our product to answer these new client needs. When we detected that guests were staying for a longer duration in our properties, we responded by creating “the Freehand Club”. Recently launched, it’s a one-price, monthly membership fee that provides unlimited access to all Freehand Hotels.

A lifestyle package, it offers guests the freedom to move between US cities. They can exercise in-room (thanks to our partnership with fitness app Jetsweat) or by using our fitness centre. Also, they can work from their rooms or in our common spaces that are ideal for co-working. This offer has answered a specific demand and we’ve seen great interest in it since its launch a month ago.”

Jolien Alferink
Jolien AlferinkHotel Marketing Consultant, Orange Hotel Marketing