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What to include in your digital marketing during the Coronavirus pandemic

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In light of the unfolding spread of Coronavirus and the effect it’s having on all our lives, there’s no doubt that hospitality businesses will face a vast challenge in the coming weeks and months.

Many hoteliers are turning to their digital marketing channels to help them communicate with and reassure their audience and unlock opportunities to adapt, mitigate losses and support others.

What measures should a hospitality business be implementing through their digital communications?

Add a page to your website

Share some honest and clear information on your current status during this critical period.

Address frequently asked questions, and think about the concerns customers may have and ensure these are addressed. Common queries may include…

  • What's your current status? Are you open or closed?
  • Has your cancellation policy changed?
  • What measures are you taking during this time?
  • Are events cancelled?

Tell people where to look for future updates and who to contact for further information. Acknowledgement of the government guidelines and necessary precautions taken will reassure your audience and give them confidence in your decisions.

Above: The Coniston Hotel published this helpful in-depth and categorised Coronavirus information page.

The Peacock at Rowsley, Covid banner

Make that page visible

While this page needs to be visible, it shouldn’t crowd out everything else - make it obvious but not intrusive.

A common solution is the “announcement bar”, a small bar at the top of every page on your website, which includes a link to your full statement. This will increase the accessibility of the page without distracting from your available services.

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  • Using social media to build your presence
  • Harness the power of Facebook ads
  • Making sure your website does its job
  • Use email to build repeat business
  • How and why SEO works for hotels

What to say on social media?

You may want to put out a short statement with a link to your page, or include the statement in full where possible. While engagement rates and tone of writing are important, the clarity of information is a higher priority in this case.

Where text is limited, such as on Twitter, write a short post with your core message and a link to your full statement on your website.

On Instagram, you may want to add your new page as the main website link on your profile, directing your audience towards that page in posts and stories. Stories also offer a good opportunity to reach your customers without straying from the visual importance of Instagram as a platform. Again, branding is trumped by the clarity of information. While we wouldn’t recommend putting together a flashy “COVID-19 Statement” graphic, do consider appending a quality photo of your establishment.

We’d also recommend remaining polite, respectful and panic-free in all your public communications, regardless of your opinion of the government’s or anyone else’s actions during this time.

Losehill House covid statement

Send a mailout to reassure your audience

If you have a mailing list, and you really should, you may want to send a message out to your audience this way to reiterate the message.

Use a tool like Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor to send the message to your customers and those who have subscribed to hear updates from you.

The Peacock update

Share the measures you’re taking

If you're currently open in some part, be clear about the measures you’re taking to minimise infection so as to reassure those who will still consider visiting your establishment. Everybody is handling this in different ways, but measures you may want to announce through your digital output include...

  • No physical contact such as handshakes
  • Increased cleaning regimes
  • Reduced restaurant seating to increase social distance
  • Measures to check staff are healthy
  • Increased availability of hand sanitiser
  • Adherence to official guidelines
  • Contactless payments only

Showcase how you’re adapting

Many hospitality businesses have creatively adapted to mitigate the damage and help their customers during this time. Take time to explain and promote any such new initiatives through your digital channels, common measures we’ve seen include...

Push gift vouchers

Gift vouchers are great as they allow customers to support you during this time, but redeem their purchases at a later date when business is back to normal.

Make sure you have the ability to sell vouchers online - if you need help getting set up quickly we can help.

Don’t just offer a general voucher but consider offering specific vouchers for dining, stays, afternoon teas, spa experiences, or even IOUs for events such as birthdays or anniversaries. These can be very helpful to customers shopping at the last minute!

Mothers Day promotions

Takeaway or Cakeaway

Many hospitality businesses are offering out their usual dining offering but as a takeaway service - with the dishes either being delivered to you or able for you to collect.

The Kedleston are offering the brilliant idea of “cakeaway” - taking away afternoon tea in a box and a bottle of champagne for Mother’s Day.

The Kedleston Cakeaway

Encourage direct bookings

If you are able to remain open in part, or are choosing to target the future rather than the present, encouraging direct bookings is one way to control your profits and decrease fees.

When adding social media content, include links to your own booking pages, or even consider temporarily limiting your relationships with online travel agents for the time being.

Travel limitations

While travel is increasingly limited it’s worth monitoring how customer demand is evolving. If you’re a hotel who’s heavily reliant on travel from overseas, then you may want to instead focus your marketing efforts on customers within the UK during this period.

Anecdotally we heard that UK holidayers originally destined for Italy’s Lakes were cancelling and booking at luxury hotels in the Lake District - monitor such changes in behaviour and adapt your marketing strategy as the situation develops and travel reopens.


Supporting your local community

If you’re able to support your local community during this time, use your digital channels to get the message out to those who may benefit.

Free hotel room for NHS workers

Think beyond all this

Though we’re in for a tough time, this will pass and there will be great rejoicing on the other side.

Focus on what makes you unique and what may appeal to people during this time - if your hotel offers relaxation and seclusion, a break from all the madness, that will likely connect well with people at this time.

Don’t panic and drop your marketing levels during this time - continuous marketing effort is important for your future success. If you do find yourself with downtime, take some of it to reflect, plan and strategize, or build up a bank of content and inspiration for when things return to normal.

A developing situation

Continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds, and quickly update your audience through all the digital channels available to you. Doing nothing is not an option if you want customers to feel reassured and positive about the experience you offer.

Stay safe, keep being kind to others and adapting as you go.

If you require help implementing any of these suggestions, our team is here and ready to help - please feel free to contact us for advice.

Arise are one of the UK’s top digital specialists in social media and web design for the hospitality and tourism sectors, and offer comprehensive digital marketing for hotels across the country.

Request your FREE 87-page guide to more effective hotel marketing

The Digitally Marketed Hotel - Your guide to creating effective digital marketing for your hotel. Request your FREE copy.
  • Using social media to build your presence
  • Harness the power of Facebook ads
  • Making sure your website does its job
  • Use email to build repeat business
  • How and why SEO works for hotels

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