Crucial Marketing Strategies For The Hospitality Sector During The COVID-19 Pandemic

marketing during covid-19

 

The current COVID-19 pandemic has hit the hospitality sector hard, both in Singapore and throughout the rest of the world. Hotels, whose services fall under ‘events contracts and tourism-related contracts,’ have had to cancel both small bookings and large events such as conferences and weddings – as reported by legal advisors Clyde & Co. Despite the unavoidable losses, the hospitality sector as a whole (hotels, restaurants, amusement parks and other tourism-related services in Singapore) needs to stand up to the challenge and change former marketing strategies. The key is to keep clients happy with any actions that can help them or those in need, while keeping target markets focused on the essence of tourism – relaxation, discovery and enjoyment – when the pandemic is over.

 

Kindness In Times Of Uncertainty

It is important for enterprises in the hospitality sector to show solidarity in challenging times. Currently, the government has arranged for people returning to Singapore from the UK and US to be transported directly to designated hotels such as the  Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa for a 14-day period. This hotel is just one of many that is currently using social media channels to inform the public of the measures its management is taking. For instance, pinned posts are informing guests of the waiver of cancellation fees, and feed posts are sharing news of the Hotel’s solidarity measures. The Shangri-La lets readers know, for instance, that they “provided a home for 236 health workers and cooked 24,000 meals for medical workers” so far during the crisis. 

 

Home Deliveries

Restaurants seeking to continue producing food and providing employment for their workers are also using their social media channels to inform clients of continued delivery. Singaporean foodies don’t need to give up their favourite treats, and establishments from eateries to cafés, bistros and pastry shops are looking for a way to deliver. Forward thinking restaurants are targeting their online strategy in various ways – including partnering up with local media outlets to share news of their home delivery services and using their websites and social media channels to inform customers of current services.

 

Chat Boxes: The Power Of Immediate Response

Restaurants are adapting to the COVID-19 crisis in individual ways, which is why communication and quick responses are crucial during a time at which customers may be more reticent to order home delivery. The Cat and the Fiddle – a restaurant serving a wide variety of cheesecake types, for instance, has a handy ‘Cat’s Concierge’ service that enables buyers to receive quick online responses to queries about everything from products to the restaurant’s policies on delivery. Safety measures being taken include leaving orders in a box at the purchaser’s door, with the delivery person waiting at a specific distance until the client picks up the order. Because measures vary, it is important to have immediate information for customers needing more information before they feel confident enough to make an order.

 

Celebrating Travel In The Future

At this moment in time, millions of people across the globe are in confinement, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t making plans to travel the world. In fact, ‘bucket list’ style content abounds in lifestyle blogs and online magazines. It is vital to keep pushing your destination as one that will be perfect for unwinding after the worst is over. This can be done by finding the right balance between solidarity and pure tourism-centred marketing content. If you’re marketing a summer resort, then images of high-end swimwear, stunning locations – think thatched roof villas and natural elements in design – evoke a sense of relaxation and luxury that will eventually be possible again. In luxury sectors, marketing elements should continue to be influenced by the world of fashion and design. Something as evocative as swimwear imagery can inspire people to browse online and plan the details of their future holiday – including their accommodation.

 

Launching Video Campaigns

Wyzowl reports that around 83% of consumers share videos they find relevant and enjoyable to others. Now more than ever, video should play an important role in marketing strategy. In the hospitality sector, Singaporean chefs are shining particularly brightly. Recently, nine chefs from the country’s top Michelin-starred restaurants (including Hawker Chan, Sebastien Lepinoy, and Kirk Westaway) joined forces to demonstrate proper hand-washing and food-handling techniques through a series of 12 videos in six different languages. Indeed, on a global level, chefs are taking to Instagram, YouTube and Facebook to share their talents in a different way – via easy-to-prepare recipes that make the lockdown a little more entertaining.

 

Honing Your SEO Strategy

As the day-to-day life of hotels slows down considerably during COVID-19, marketing teams who are working in-office or remotely can take the time to hone their SEO strategy. Actions can include checking that all pages on their site have unique page titles and descriptions, that keywords are well targeted, and that page load speed is good. It’s also a time to consider offering evergreen or lifestyle content pertinent to your destination to other sites by ensuring your links are present on a large number of sites – including travel blogs, and health and wellness groups.

 

It is generally acknowledged that of the many industries in operation, the hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hotels and restaurants are rising to the challenge by adapting their marketing strategies to the times. Any solidarity measures companies are supporting should be announced via social media. Clients are keen to support companies with a heart, and when the crisis passes, those who did their share will be remembered. Entertainment is also key; those who are able to create dynamic content that looks to the future (including travel articles, Instagram stories and other visually impactful content) should invite clients to start preparing for their next holiday. Informative campaigns are also much appreciated, as are recipes and content meant to fill long days at home. Finally, marketing teams can work on key SEO areas that need improvement – including the use of good keywords and the preparation of linkback articles.

Author Bio

Tom Koh is widely recognised as a leading SEO consultant in Asia who has worked to transform the online visibility of the leading organisations such as SingTel, Capitaland, Maybank, P&G, WWF, etc. Recently he was instrumental in consulting for a New York-based US$30B fund in an US$4Bn acquisition. Tom is a Computational Science graduate of the National University of Singapore. In his free time he performs pro-bono community work and traveling.
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April 15, 2020

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