Industry leaders, including myself, took part in a first for the hospitality industry on April 30th– a fully virtual industry conference. Hosted by Long Live Lodging, the LodgingStream conference provided for panel discussions on several timely issues facing hotel owners right now, including workforce and labor issues, deals on the horizon, new standards of clean, how to market for future guests and more. We were asked to contribute to a panel discussion on what we could be doing now to better market for future guests. 

Below is a snapshot of the main takeaways of the Marketing for Future Guests panel discussion.

The Panel of Hotel Marketing Experts
Andressa Chapman, Founder and President of Trigger Hotel Marketing
Stephanie Smith, founder and digital matriarch at Cogwheel Marketing and partner and consultant at Cayuga Hospitality Consultants
Kristi White, Vice President of Product Management at Knowland
Makarand Mody, Assistant Professor at the School of Hospitality Administration at Boston University
Mike Medsker, President and Co-Founder of Focal Revenue Solutions
Moderated by Susan Barry of Hive Marketing

What does recovery look like? When will it happen? Who will travel first? How do we get to them first? When can we start selling again?
– It’s a safe assumption that local transient will drive the first bookings
– Travelers say they are thinking about traveling in three to six months, but this is contingent on their changing comfort levels
– Occupancies of around 40% or higher (total market) are a sign that group is on its way back

What should we be doing right now?
– Use email marketing without a hard sell to stay top of mind and use these tools to provide value in different ways now rather than using them for a hard sell
– Become more agile to make quicker decisions
– Don’t look for a silver bullet, the road back will be long

What kind of messages will work? What channels or methods will be most effective? What can we do today to prepare for tomorrow?
– Communicate the extra measures you’re taking to keep your staff and guests staff
– Feed their desire for travel and give them inspiration
– Communicate what you’re doing with your event spaces and practices (coffee breaks, dining, etc) to provide for new meeting planner needs

How can hotels save money?
– Make sure you’re optimizing existing business intelligence tools
– Focus on drive markets first
– Use Google Trends to determine if search volume is increasing
– Don’t spend money on metasearch – let the OTAs have those reservations
– Renegotiate with your agencies and vendors

What is one thing a hotelier should do today to prepare for post-quarantine marketing?
– Identify and remove any bottlenecks that slow down the your go-to-market process
– Create a sensitivity analysis: best – middle – worst case scenarios
– Check your website and all listing sites for accuracy
– Build agility into your core processes

What tool or resource should our audience look into/learn about now?
– Facebook and Google Ad travel grant programs
– Google Trends
– Cross-train your sales, marketing and revenue management teams on all business intelligence tools
– Focus on the fundamentals

What is one common hotel marketing practice that you hope goes away after quarantine?
– Un-targeted marketing and discounting
– Last click attribution
– Generic email marketing