As the number of people infected with Coronavirus continues to rise while the U.S. stock market continues to drop, the hospitality industry is wondering what the true impact will be in the coming weeks and months. While no one can accurately predict the total damage, we do know that hotels who rely on business from China, Japan and Korea will need to look elsewhere to make up for loss in traffic from these countries. In addition, in the last few days, some of the largest conferences in the world have been canceled due to companies shutting down international travel (and in some cases US domestic travel). The Washington Post recently stated, “Booking Holdings, which owns Priceline, Booking.com and Kayak, said this week that it expects hotel room bookings to fall as much as 10 percent this quarter because of the coronavirus.”
When facing a pandemic crisis that is having a negative impact on the travel industry, hotels need to focus on driving awareness and taking as much of the market share as they can get. Hotels should not cut rates or stop spending in hopes of “waiting it out.” Here is what we know so far.
Current Impact of COVID-19 on the Hotel Industry
According to American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), the hospitality industry has lost 1.5 billion in room revenue and is on pace to lose $1.4 billion per week due to COVID-19. In the last few days, we have received word that many hotels have either already closed their doors or are planning to in the immediate future, all due to the impact of COVID-19.
While these numbers are staggering, let’s take a look at what our hotel digital marketing data is telling us:
- Ad dollars have dropped 23% between February and March 2020. This is directly due to there being less search volume and demand in each hotel’s market
- The average cost per click (CPC) has risen since January 1st, week over week:
- The average number of transactions has decreased by 46% versus the same time last year with the same sample size
With that said, a different set of stats are telling us that there is light at the end of this dark tunnel:
- Transactions are still occurring at almost every hotel. GCommerce is averaging a 130X ROAS across our portfolio for the month of March so far.
- The average lead time between booking a reservation and the arrival date is 90 days. Travelers are dreaming, planning and looking forward to their summer vacation, especially after being quarantined.
What Your Hotel Should Start Doing To Protect Your Revenue & Prepare for Post-COVID Life
- Focus all of your hotel’s digital media efforts on domestic travel. This doesn’t mean don’t take business from international audiences if they are still looking for a hotel, but prioritize your media spend on domestic audiences who have historically performed well. In your analytics tool, look at both frequency from various geos and average purchase value. This will give you a good indication as to which domestic locations will get you your biggest bang for your buck.
- Engage your hotel’s repeat customers with customized messaging to encourage them to come stay at your property. This isn’t a new idea and certainly is not exclusive to dealing with the Coronavirus, but will be a critical component to your hotel’s success during this time of crisis.
- Be prepared for ADR cuts and flash sales in your hotel’s market. Whether your property frequently participates in deals or typically focuses on experiential-based packages to entice travelers to book with you, you will need to be prepared for your market to start to slash nightly rates in order to fill the void from the Asian markets. This is directly related to #2 (above) – engage your repeat customers so you don’t have to drop your rates as much just to get heads in beds.
- Update messaging throughout all campaigns to call out any reviews around the cleanliness of the hotel.
- Highlight easy cancellation to drive purchases and conversions, promote no cancellation fees.
- Target locals with “staycation” offers for paid search.
- If you haven’t already done so, waive cancellation fee policies for the time being. Travelers are looking to plan ahead and book travel, but if it’s not safe to do so they want to know they will be able to cancel without a penalty.
- If your property is closing, let your hotel’s digital marketing agency or whoever manages your Google My Business listing know so you can update your “Open” status to “Temporarily Closed”
- If you’ve been waiting for that perfect time when your hotel isn’t full to schedule a photo or video shoot, now is a great time to start thinking about doing it in early summer
- If you’re in a destination where the outdoors play a part in the overall experience, find a way to creatively leverage this. After being stuck at home for so long, travelers will want to connect with nature. (If you’re still open now and looking to find ways to get people to book for April travel, this is a great way to market your property.)
- Talk to your guests and be real with them. They no longer need to hear what you are doing on property to make it clean and safe. Send them email communication letting them know you’re planning for brighter days and can’t wait to see them soon. Even better, ask them what they want to see from the hotel to make them feel comfortable traveling. Co-creation is pure gold.
- Along the same lines, utilize social media to reach your audience acknowledging the situation but still remaining true to your brand. For a great example of this, check out Sunset Marquis’ social channels.
- Promote gift card purchases as a way loyal fans can help support your hotel’s business during this time
- Focus on updating your hotel’s website content and messaging to not only inform visitors on what the current status is but to help capitalize on any existing demand for direct bookings. Platforms like Triptease are a great way to help customize messaging for the segments that are still showing interest in your hotel.
- At GCommerce, we’re using this time to deep dive into our search engine optimization efforts while paid media is lower than usual. If you handle this in-house or use an outsource, ask them what can be done to expand your content and increase your ranking for relevant keywords and topics.
How We Can Help
If you’re looking for help to get your hotel’s marketing ready for life after COVID-19, reach out to GCommerce. We’re ready to get started. Our team has experience with unpredictable markets. One thing we learned during the 2008 economic downturn was that the properties who doubled down and continued to invest in their hotel’s marketing programs were the ones that made it to the other side less scathed. This is a similar moment in time – lots of uncertainty about where the economy is headed not to mention our public safety.
If your property is struggling, we want to help. We are offering complimentary consultations on marketing ideas that your hotel can implement to win more bookings in these trying. Schedule a meeting below to develop a strategy that will work best for your business.
Webinars & Videos
- Recession Proof Your Brand: Key Strategies to Boost Revenue During Recovery from NAVIS and Chris Jackson
- Webinar | Developing Your Best Hotel Pricing Strategy Now from SHR
- Webinars | Hotel Industry Impact from str
- COVID-19 Tips with our Director of Revenue Management from SHR
- COVID-19 Help: Think Domestic from SHR
- Put OTAs to Work from SHR
- Metasearch. It is a big deal! from SHR
- $377 Billion in Liquidity for Hotels, VRs and Other Small Businesses from NAVIS
- How to Keep Coronavirus From Affecting Your Revenue from Revinate
- Hotels in crisis can still win: How to adjust strategies without jeopardizing your future from Triptease
- Hotels Again Modify Cancellation Policies, Loyalty Programs Amid Outbreak from Business Travel News
- Data Insights Into Effectiveness of Downturn Strategies from Hotel News Now
- 10 Ideas to Improve Booking Performance During the Crisis from Milestone
- 7 Ways Hoteliers Can Mitigate Damage from COVID-19 from SHR
- 5 Managers Give Their Advice About Preparing for an Economic Downturn from SHR
- Navigating Budgeting and Forecasting’s Perfect Storm from SHR
- The New Metasearch: Smart Bidding With Google For Guest Acquisition And Conversion from SHR
- Get Full, Stay Full: Combating Low Seasons To Drive More Revenue from SHR