Top tips for hotels and travel brands during COVID-19

“Preparing for recovery”

Written by Lemongrass Marketing on 27th Mar 2020

As the UK nears the end of its first week of the COVID 19 lock down and we are bombarded with news and information, we’ve distilled the items that caught our interest to give you some advice and insight in this turbulent world.

Travelling The World From Your Sofa

As staying in certainly becomes the new going out, the demand for virtual experiences rocketed to keep us travelling from our sofa (or the home office!).  Although not a new trend the number of views of this type of content has soared, from live webcams of Miami beach to tours of the Sistine Chapel,  some of the best experiences can be enjoyed here  Content is still king and by redefining customer engagement you can still provide value to your guests.

Our clients are working on virtual spa experiences, andBeyond is bringing a taste of Africa to people’s homes with music, recipes and book recommendations.  As a hotelier it really is the ultimate ‘try before you buy’ for your guest.  Tap into the experiences your visitors enjoy from your hotel location which could be as simple as birdsong, waves lapping on the beach, sharing cooking classes, live streaming yoga or meditation to help build brand equity. One hotel in China even shows its guests live-streaming of rooms as housekeepers clean them so they can feel assured about the thoroughness of the process.

A Temporary Reprieve From The Google World Order – and an opportunity for travel brands to prepare for recovery

The dearth of travel advertising because of the coronavirus pandemic has made Google’s pages look almost unrecognizable. For example, Google’s one-box of hotel search results, with its maps and reviews directing consumers right into Google’s own travel business, is now the highest search result in many cases.  With travel ads largely missing from Google Search, the silver lining is that organic links from your own brand and PR articles are newly visible right below the “fold” on desktop, and on the second page in Google results on mobile.

For travel companies dependent on search engine optimization, or maximizing their free links in Google, they are seeing their positions rise in Google’s search results without paying the normal premiums.  Now is the time for hotel brands to develop a PR & content marketing strategy that ensures their brand is in prime position for the recovery. When nobody else speaks your voice is amplified – we saw the same effect during 9/11. There is a huge variety of tools available to tap into what people are searching for as they dream of their next holiday.  Be the brand that provides the answers and shows up above the fold in searches.

Diversification

In a week that has seen pubs turn into takeaways and restaurants turn into supermarkets the hotel industry has also been pulling together online resources to help each other and their communities.

Helping re-purpose beds for medical use may be the most obvious possible way to help. A new tech platform launched earlier this week can make the matchmaking process easier between lodging operators and local emergency efforts. Owners of a property can make beds or buildings available by using an online form to specify how they’re willing to help. Cloudbeds has worked with Sabre, Marriott, and RateGain and others on the effort.

Hotels for Helpers, in the Netherlands, is a booking engine offering discounted rooms for those in need, in an effort joined by tech provider Mews.  A new reservations portal provides accommodation to healthcare workers at no cost in Lisbon and Porto, Portugal. It’s called Rooms Against Covid, and GuestCentric Systems and HiJiffy created it.

Separate from that effort, CEO Rob Paterson of Best Western Hotels & Resorts Great Britain has been talking to the 260 independently owned and operated properties in the brand to see which might volunteer bed space to the UK’s National Health service.   Oyo Hotels & Homes said it would open the doors of its more than 300 hotels in the U.S. to offer free stays to doctors, nurses, and other medical first responders who are helping in the fight against coronavirus.

We’re All in This Together

To finish on an uplifting note some of the initiatives and sentiment emerging from the travel industry is testament to the passion and commitment we all feel in the face of the COVID crisis.

Visit Portugal’s ‘Can’t Skip Hope’ video tackles the issue of travel bans head-on in its first few words. Using previously shot content and a voiceover recorded at home on a smartphone it’s inspiring and uplifting without being commercial.  A tricky balance but one they have achieved beautifully, watch it here.

Finally, we can’t finish this week without referencing the #OneTravelIndustry movement.  Now more than ever it’s vital we all work together to ensure we come out the back of this and build an industry that is stronger than ever.   I’m sure the words from Daniel Pearce, CEO of TTG Media will resonate with many of us “We know we are fighting for our future as a business, as well as the future of the travel industry. But like so many other companies, we will also take heart from another of Sun Tzu’s mantras from The Art of War: “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity”.

Find out more about Lemongrass Marketing here.

We’ve also recently shared top tips to help Tourist Boards navigate communication during COVID-19 which you can read here.

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If you have any questions or need any guidance, please do contact us. We want to protect our travel industry and we are here to help. Give us a call for a free consultation during these challenging times.

Contact: email grow@lemongrassmarketing.com or call on +44 (0) 1865 237 990.