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Expert’s Voice: Different hospitality marketing during the virus

by | 03 Apr 2020 | Experts

On times of Covid-19 virtuality is key, so take advantage of social media marketing.

You are missing a good opportunity if you stop your hotel’s social media marketing efforts now, writes Anita Chan, CEO at Compass Edge, as she shares her experience on how to appeal to resurgent Chinese tourism after the effects of Covid-19 abates.

My business is China-focused, working with independent hotels which see impacts right away and my China IT office is in Wuhan so I feel the pain more than many of you. 

Not just business-wise but how are teams doing in Wuhan, how are our independent hotels managing during this difficult time. I want more than anyone to say “don’t worry, be happy” but I can’t. It is obvious countries are taking the “Fight Over Flight” approach so I would rather face the reality and get prepared.

Here, I am going to talk about something I know, which I hope, will give some ideas on hospitality marketing to my clients and industry associates on what we can do now, especially with Chinese outbound tourism.

 

1- Focus on Chinese FIT as it will bounce back first

Back in January 25, when the world began to be aware of some kind of a virus outbreak in China, China announced “no more package tour” right away but individuals can still book on their own. Credit source: Professor Wolfgang @ COTRI

So now, if the situation improves and Chinese can travel again, it is logical to assume that they will open up for FITs (Foreign Independent Tour or Flexible Independent Travel) well before package tour or tour groups. Hence, if your hotel focuses on group tours from China to fill your rooms in the past, you should start focusing on the FIT segment and start planting the seeds now.

2- Don’t be short-sighted 

Don’t stop the China social media marketing efforts because they are not coming tomorrow.

Do you know the DAU (Daily Active Users) and the Daily Time Spent Online on the top 5 social apps have increased in 2020 Chinese new year vs. 2020 normal days vs. 2019 Chinese new year? Credit source: QuestMobile. 

And other than looking at up-to-date info on COVID-19, Chinese especially young Chinese travelers are spending a fair bit of time playing online games, watching online videos and reading online articles, etc.

Hence, you are missing a good opportunity if you stop your social media marketing efforts now. However, it is important to create relevant content. For example, if your country imposes a travel ban to affected countries like China, it will not be effective to promote short-term tactical offers at this point. In fact, because Chinese cannot travel now, the urge to travel or dream to travel is higher. It is a good time to send positive vibes to build up goodwill of your brand now.

From our own experience, our marketing team reported the following 5 of our articles have seen a significant increase in readership even though some articles were first published about a few months ago. These articles are not COVID-19 related at all but more resources-related such as “KOL recommended hotels in Phuket”, “The latest check-in restaurants in SE Asia”, “Explore Cebu”, “The WOW hotels swimming pool to welcome Summer” & “How to get the best of SE Asia in low season”, etc. 

We are happy to report that good content on social media has paid off during this difficult time. And this is why it is not recommended for hotels to stop the China social media marketing efforts now.

3- Engage the audience when we have time now

You have the contact info of the Chinese who had stayed with you before. What’s better than to send them a personalised message (WeChat will be best as Chinese do not use email much) to ask them how they are doing and wish them well and health and to show your support. An authentic caring message goes a long way. No need to be overly pushy to send them “repeated guests offer” right away. They will remember you and this is another way to build goodwill for your brand.

Bonus idea. In addition to the preventive measures (like regular cleaning schedule in public areas, hand-sanitizer provided at lobby, antibacterial in-room amenities, etc.), you may consider to waive the room service delivery charge and ramp up your room service menu so your guests can have a nice in-room culinary experience.

If you have good restaurant space, since the occupancy is still below normal, you may consider rearranging the restaurant seating with the distance between each table to be 2M so people feel it is a “safe distance” to comfortably dine at your restaurant.

As the situation is changing daily, we just have to deal with it. Rather than biasing ourselves that we ought to travel to send the “right message”, I think we should use our expertise to provide updated travel information, to help to “contain” the spread so we can be back on track sooner.

Anita Chan

Anita Chan

CEO, Compass Edge

Anita has extensive travel industry experience, and has worked all over the world with leading companies such as Four Seasons Hotels and Delta Hotels, as well as in corporate offices and technology service providers. Before joining Compass Edge, Anita worked as Regional Director for a leading OTA in Asia, as Global VP for a leading digital agency, and as VP Asia Pacific for Small Luxury Hotels of the World.
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