Hotel Marketing on Travel Channels During COVID-19: Content Strategies for a Strong Recovery
Hotel brands will need to take a multi-pronged approach to recovery. Investing in marketing – which expert analysis shows is key to strong, lasting post-recession growth – means focusing on your presence across direct and indirect channels.
On your direct channels, where hotels have more control, we recommend open communication backed by a promotional strategy based on the changing buyer journey. For more, read our direct channel marketing strategy for hotels during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the other side, on hotels’ indirect channels, the hot topic is managing dynamic content—specifically rates, and whether or not to cut them. But don’t forget your static content: the photos, videos, and descriptive text travel channels use to sell room nights. Here at Leonardo, we specialize in media management and distribution: our hotel and travel channel partners around the world can attest first hand that improving static content, alongside rates, has a huge impact on conversion.
The good news is, in a recent survey conducted by hospitality data intelligence experts, STR, 60% of travelers said they are just as likely or more likely to travel in the next twelve months as they had been in the previous year. Tourism and leisure travel will rebound. Now is the time to boost your listings on indirect channels to be ready for those travelers.
Today we’re sharing expert strategies on how to manage dynamic and static content to set hotels up for a strong post-COVID 19 recovery.
Avoid slashing public rates
As we have discussed in previous blogs, if we look to the past for lessons, it’s clear that cutting rates is not the path to a speedy recovery.
The first hotel in a comp set to cut their rates may rise to the top in the short term, but hotels that held their rates within 10% of normal had higher RevPAR post-recession than those that dropped them lower. In the same study, in a representative comp set of four hotels, when one hotel dropped their rates, the other three were forced to follow suit. The first hotel to drop their rates lost more revenue, and the last hotel lost more occupancy. In effect, competing on price alone means everyone loses.
Revenue managers looking for the “right” dynamic content mix to have in place when travelers inevitably flock back to their area, should be asking themselves: what’s a hotel to do instead to get ahead and bounce back faster? Avoid cutting across the board, and take a more nuanced approach:
- Only lower your rates on opaque channels or channels that bundle a stay with another service like transportation, so you can increase occupancy without decreasing brand integrity
- Increase commission on channels with a proven record of selling high volumes of room nights in your hotels’ market
- Go local: geo-target travelers closer to your hotel on metasearch engines which allow auction bidding on relevant keywords – local travel will pick up before leisure travel
Perform a content audit
Static content is a misnomer: images, descriptive text, location details; all of this information needs to be up-to-date on hundreds of distribution channels, all with their own best practices and extranets. Use this downturn to audit and freshen up your listings.
For Leonardo customers, our newly launched Content Manager has in-app reporting that provides an easy to understand snapshot of media quality, quantity, as well as how your hotel stacks up to travel channel best practices. Otherwise, you will have to manually audit channels with extranets to assess:
- Image quality (2048 px+ on the longest side)
- Quantity (25+ photos per channel, 4 images per room type including a bathroom image)
- Categorization mapping (do you have a photo of each key amenity on every channel?)
- Room type mapping (do all room types have room images?)
Next up, optimize your listings. The information in your listings on third-party channels is where you can help convince and convert travelers. But it’s also the data that channels use to surface your property in guest searches. The wrong geo-location, amenities, or hours, will mean you won’t show up in potentially lucrative searches.
With our partner, HotelPORT, we automate this process by pulling travel channel listings into a single dashboard that verifies accuracy and then facilitates updates. The other option is a manual audit and update, again, on travel channels with an accessible extranet. When conducting an audit, you want to check the accuracy of your:
- Name, address, phone number, and website
- Geo coordinates (latitude and longitude)
- All amenities accurately listed
- Policies (as well as any surcharges)
Indirect channel performance for operational efficiency
Setting your hotel(s) up for a strong recovery requires a multi-pronged approach. One that covers all aspects of marketing, and examines where and how you’re spending money. This is the time to optimize your distribution. Focus on a distribution strategy that prevents you from having to cut public rates while still increasing occupancy.
Travel will rebound, and it’s a good time to focus on the things within your hotels’ control. Improving your static and descriptive content on travel channels is a project that will benefit revenue generation both in the immediate aftermath of COVID-19 and farther down the line.
There are glimmers of hope on the horizon, as travel searches begin to pick up for the later half of 2020. Capture some of that hope by using more of our COVID-19 hotel marketing tips and tricks.