The Limitless Alternatives the Pandemic Provides to Hospitality Entrepreneurs – Remark
It used to be the front office, guest relations or sales teams who had their finger on the pulse of hotel guests, understanding their buying behavior, analyzing trends and predicting future behavior.
It was their job to use their personal brands to nurture potential leads and turn them into paying guests, while the marketing function supported their efforts by creating a “wish” in the minds of potential customers through attractive over-the-line campaigns Traveler woke up.
There’s no doubt that the hotel marketing landscape has evolved lately, but the pandemic offers marketers several unique opportunities that they can take advantage of while delivering positive brand experiences.
Customer Experience (CX) is the new marketing battlefield
Since over 43 percent of tourism experts do not expect international tourism to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023, marketing specialists can take advantage of the enormous potential that lies in adding value to guests’ entire trips. Despite the accelerated technology acceptance in hotels recently due to intelligent technology, integrated online booking platforms and powerful CRM systems, hotels are still on the cusp of a complete transformation through brand-differentiating customer experience (CX) at all important touchpoints. With most customers now moving to touchless online channels, great CX delivery begins long before the guest checks into the hotel. At Palazzo Versace Dubai we have focused our efforts on identifying CX decisions that generate positive signals and have since invested in those experiences that amplify those signals. The latest example is the partnership with the payment platform Spotii, which brings the “shop now pay later” concept from online to the store and enables our guests to buy experiences they love in simple and free installments. Ultimately, good CX not only increases sales, but also helps to reach your guests more effectively, strengthen brand loyalty and improve organic growth. With the travel habits of the masses being rethought, the CX strategy in hotels is certainly due.
The e-commerce explosion literally saved retail and gave us a great opportunity at Palazzo Versace Dubai. When we compared the typical online shopping cart experience to the hotel booking experience, the latter felt less smooth for most hotels. With hotels and restaurants traditionally relying on pedestrians to complete their sales cycle, it will only be a matter of survival for us to adapt by investing in platforms that replicate the retailer’s online shopping cart, giving customers more choice and freedom. Within eight weeks of the pandemic, customers accelerated digital shopping adoption by five years, giving us plenty of time to change our own ecommerce strategies. When the pandemic first broke out and we were faced with an increasing number of cancellations and booking changes, we quickly realized that new needs had arisen among customers willing to travel. Our research into alternatives resulted in the birth of our eGift platform – a unique marketplace for experiences that visitors can browse, select, pay online, and experience anytime in the future – the perfect solution for avid travelers who were skeptical about travel currently but were at it interested in planning their future trips.
Inbound marketing will reap the greatest rewards
Since the consumption of content takes place throughout the day across multiple media, it is not surprising that the decision-making for vacation, stay, meal or spa experiences is not limited to the weekend or after work, but at any time during all day – makes it imperative for hotels to invest their efforts in inbound rather than outbound marketing activities. With the increase in online activity, we’ve found that there are more opportunities in terms of affinity building and brand awareness, indicating the end of the “one size fits all” approach and SEO, content personalization, influencer outreach programs and Video marketing makes the pandemic consistently more effective for us. This also made it necessary for us to adjust our digital marketing goals and KPIs retrospectively.
After the pandemic, the ways brands can connect with customers have become limitless. Hotel marketers wonder whether they are armed with the right tools and skills to tap into the wide ranges of ever-changing consumer trends, needs, behaviors, and lifestyles. Given these opportunities, the future is undoubtedly brighter for hotels that are breaking down long standing functional silos and focusing on building more agile, cross-functional marketing teams made up of a collection of versatile T-shaped marketers organized around products and solutions and the customer journey.