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How temporary closure should affect your digital marketing

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In an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus, the UK Government has effectively asked hotels, restaurants, pubs, and food chains to cease trading for the coming weeks and months. While this is the best thing for the country’s health, temporary closure is not an easy decision for business owners.

This is temporary

Remember, this is not the normal state of play, though it may seem overwhelming at times, it is temporary and doesn’t have to spell the end for your business. Instead of just planning to survive, plan for an amazing comeback when we reach the other side of all this.

Like many bad things, these measures are only temporary, and if you’re able to adapt quickly, your business will come back stronger. 

It will pay to stay ahead of the game - so start planning your digital marketing strategy ready for when normality resumes. This will save you time in the long run and help recoup losses made during the temporary closure.

Stay positive and know that this isn’t the new normal - don’t be tempted to cease your digital marketing altogether and run the risk of losing customer’s attention who are raring to get out and spend once free to do so.

Screenshot of Peacock at Rowsley Facebook

Get set up for gift vouchers

It’s still important to adapt and think of ways to keep some revenue coming in. Gift vouchers are a great option as they allow your customers to support you during this time but redeem their purchases at a later date when business is back to normal.

Be sure that customers can easily purchase vouchers through your website. Don’t just offer a general voucher but consider offering specific vouchers for dining, stays, afternoon teas or spa experiences.

Increasing the expiration date on these vouchers gives customers the reassurance that they are more likely to be able to use them once this is all over or a free cancellation policy if things were to carry on beyond that period.

Some hotels are being proactive and offering customers the option of converting their cancelled stays into gift vouchers of a higher value, rather than flat out cancelling.

Don’t lose your audience, stoke their desire

Maintain awareness and communicate with those customers you’ve grown relationships with over time, don't let them forget that you care. 

Encourage engagement by asking for their thoughts on previous dishes or treatments, not only does this get people talking and communicating it also means you gain their feedback on how to improve for next time, and build their desire ready for when they’re able to come back and spend.

Continue to post content and remind customers you are around and keep them updated with new information as it comes in.

Your audience is still interested in what is taking place at your hotel so keep them engaged with vibrant imagery from recent years - show them what they've got to look forward to when you’re able to reopen.

Use the time to plan ahead

If you do have downtime it's a good chance to do some audience research, plan out your marketing strategy and prepare content for the year ahead.

Make the most of your free time by considering what you could be doing to enhance your digital marketing going forward. Get ahead of the game and start prepping future content whether that be a new web page you’re considering, new deals to offer, or a new facility opening soon - now is the time to plan ahead.

With more free time you are able to create a new marketing strategy including things such as:

  • New blogs
  • Future content
  • New offers 
  • Planning for upcoming holidays and celebrations
  • Target market research
  • Key trends and topics to get involved in
  • Updating FAQs
  • Website usability analysis
  • Making the most of increased Facebook traffic

Facebook traffic is on the rise as more consumers find themselves with free time to browse, and an eye on their feed and messages for updates and social interaction. The Verge reported Facebook’s admission that “coronavirus is pushing usage through the roof” going on to explain that “Facebook is seeing an extreme spike in usage across the globe due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic”.

While you don’t want to capitalise on this - this does mean that more potential eyeballs are on your feed and ads than usual - so you should be seeing an effect on engagement rates.

Make sure you’re on top of the game and are keeping your followers well updated with any news from your business. 

Don't stop building and maintaining relationships 

In the midst of economic uncertainty, keep doing what it takes to build guest trust and loyalty. Continue to post engaging content and respond to messages and comments just as you would normally.

Even where the majority of communication is practical matters around bookings and cancellations, your customers will have lots of questions and need reassurance from your business. It is key to address these in order to maintain the relationships you have already built with customers. 

Screenshot of Lose Hill Facebook post

Don't become invisible

Out of sight, out of mind. Do not let your customers forget you exist. Keep your customers engaged and stay active on social media, just because your business is closed temporarily doesn't mean you have to be silent. Be sure to post content that your audiences can engage with, it’s almost a form of a reminder that you’re still there.

You could do things like ask customers to share the memorable moments they’ve had at your hotel in the past. This increases engagement and encourages people to stay in touch whilst also showing new potential customers why visitors attend your hotel in the first place, almost like a retrospective review. 

Be sure your posts remain polite and positive - don’t invite any negative comments through courting controversy.

You may need to adapt your marketing in accordance with this dynamic environment, but the last thing any brand should do is go dark. 


Communicate changes clearly

Ultimately, marketing amidst a pandemic is no easy task. As market dynamics change rapidly, we're continually reassessing, adapting, and responding to the global issues at hand.

A key factor in resilience is adaptability. And as people turn to technology for information and connection in these times of need, it makes sense for businesses to ensure they are doing the same. If you are providing new services such as an on-site restaurant providing take-out, make it known.

Ensure information is consistent across all social media platforms and your website, don't leave room for confusion by updating one platform and forget to update the rest, and make sure you update as regularly as necessary. 

Include your COVID-19 statement on your home page either as a banner or a popup on your site so that is clear and obvious to visitors. 

Screenshot of Lose Hill website

The bounce back 

The hospitality industry will certainly rise again and bounce back stronger than before, with thousands of people looking to escape their homes and searching for their perfect retreat and celebrating once all this is over. 

Early predictions show that things will level out in the long run.

Travel data provider ADARA has seen a rebound in searches and bookings for flights to and within China, the first country impacted by the COVID-19 coronavirus. Compared to bookings in early January, the majority (58%) of purchases in recent weeks are being made for travel in the next 15 days. In early January, just 38% of flights were purchased in that short-term booking window. 

When this pandemic has been overcome, hotels, restaurants, and bars should see a restorative boom as people celebrate their returned freedoms - so be prepared for the new deals and potential new visitors. 

For now, we’ll work through these uncertainties and challenges together, but the time will come when bookings resume, doors reopen, guests arrive and we celebrate together. Keep adapting, keep yourself out there, and keep going until we reach that greatly anticipated day.

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