The travel and hospitality industry has been the worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. With country-wise lockdowns and numerous travel restrictions, customers are staying put in their homes for a long time. The situation has slightly improved in 2021 with some countries allowing inter-state travel and others allowing abroad travel. However, the majority of the industry is still deeply affected with many having to close their businesses and laying off employees.
So how do travel & hospitality companies come out of this situation? Here are 4 recovery strategies for them during this ongoing pandemic:
4 Recovery Strategies for Travel and Hospitality Brands
1. Segment and Target Customers Using Data
There will be customers who hate sitting at home all the time. If even if they cannot travel to different destinations, they would still like to relax at their favourite resorts. Travel and hospitality marketers can target such customers specifically. This can be done by leveraging their own customer data to find valuable insights about travellers. The data will include details such as their travel history, frequently-visited destinations, preferred hotel type, website clicks, email open rates, etc. Identify frequent tourists, backpackers, and globetrotters and target them separately via digital channels such as email, Facebook, website, etc.
If travel restrictions are stringent in a country, invite these customers to spend 2 nights at their chosen resorts where they are given various activities such as fun games, buffet, etc. to enjoy their staycation. But before doing this, hotel and resort companies need to ensure that they follow all COVID-19-related guidelines and protocols.
2. Build Brand Value by Focusing on Health and Wellness
Building brand value is of utmost importance when it comes to dealing with serious situations such as COVID-19. Travel and hospitality companies need to reach out to their customers with important information related to maintaining their health and wellness during the pandemic. Accurate information that is meted out at the right time will go a long way in building customer trust and loyalty.
Companies should come up with measures that enable customers to help people in need and show this by example. They can send customers emails about how they are helping COVID patients or supporting hospitality workers who have lost their jobs. These emails highlight the fact that even though these companies are affected by the pandemic, they are still doing their best to extend support to the needy. Doing this will help them build their brand value immensely.
3. Invest in Innovative Technologies
For travel & hospitality firms, this is the time to undergo a complete digital transformation. As the pandemic recovery is slow, opening hotels and resorts need to be done by adhering to COVID safety protocols. This is where companies need to accelerate their investments in technologies such as gesture controls, facial recognition, automation, personalization. For hospitality firms, restaurant menus can be replaced with QR codes that customers can scan. Contactless check-in and check-out, contactless payments, mobile room keys, in-app food ordering, AI-assisted chatbots, etc. are some of the techniques that can be used to assure customers and address their safety concerns.
Companies, both hospitality and travel, can invest in martech tools like Customer Data Platform (CDP) to drive data-driven marketing for their business. Data-driven marketing enables them to extract actionable insights about customers which in turn helps them in delivering personalized offers and messages.
4. Omnichannel Customer Communication
Sound and skilled customer communication are always needed to keep customer concerns at bay. A cohesive and sincere customer engagement plan will help travel and hospitality companies to stay in the minds and hearts of their customers long after the pandemic is over. The post-pandemic period will be highly rewarding for such companies as they did a good job in engaging with their customers.
While communicating with customers, what companies need to note is that the information shared should be uniform across all customer touchpoints. An omnichannel communication strategy ensures that the customers are clear about how their travel and hospitality brands are dealing with the crisis on their preferred online and offline channels. For making this happen, companies need to rely on digital technologies like CDP where it is easy to understand an individual customer’s preferred channels.
It’s a tough time indeed for the travel & hospitality industry. But instead of bowing and accepting defeat to the COVID-19 pandemic, marketers need to always think out-of-the-box and come with recovery strategies such as above that can help them accomplish their business goals and objectives.
“No matter how much falls on us, we keep plowing ahead. That’s the only way to keep the roads clear.” – Greg Kincaid
By Bijoy K.B | Marketing Manager at Lemnisk