Updated: May 19
With the worst of the pandemic behind us here in the UK, *touches copious amounts wood*, optimism is building exponentially for the state of the tourism industry going into the peak season of 2021, 2022 and beyond!
Whilst most agree that a full recovery to pre-pandemic levels is still a little way off, it is hoped that 2021 marks the beginning of that road to recovery with lockdowns gradually being eased, capacity restrictions removed, populations being vaccinated and people beginning to be able to travel freely once again.
Here are some steps every accommodation provider should take this year to try and capitalise on these opportunities.
Use Ads to Target Domestic Leisure Travellers
All insights suggest, both through consumer sentiment and UK Government policy that domestic leisure travel will be the first segment to begin to recover as people look to stay closer to home whilst escaping from their lockdown lives.
Online ad campaigns (sometimes referred to as ‘Paid Media’ or ‘PPC’) on channels such as Facebook allow you to advertise your property only to people who fit certain criteria--like those who are located nearby and have expressed an interest in leisure travel.
This allows you to only use advertising spend on those who are most likely to book given the current circumstances.
Emphasise Covid Safety in Your Messaging
On your website and social channels, emphasise the ways in which you as an accommodation provider are taking safety and cleanliness seriously - not to the point that it replaces your inspiring and aspirational content but compliments it as this will remain a big concern for travellers, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated yet or not.
Additionally, you could (if you haven't already) apply for 'We're Good To Go' Accreditation. “We’re Good To Go” is the official UK mark from VisitBritain to signal that a tourism and hospitality business has worked hard to follow Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines and has a process in place to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing.
Additionally, pay close attention to what people are saying on your online reviews. We have seen numerous examples of guests using review platforms to point out incidents where staff were not taking the proper Covid precautions. If this is the case with your property, be sure to respond directly to guest reviews and double down on your commitment to their safety.
Reach Out to Your Mailing Lists
Not everyone has started planning their travel yet. And after so much time at home, some of them need a reminder that it’s even possible!
Create an email blast letting your past and potential guests know what’s new, whether that’s covid safety measures, news, a special offer or updated policies. At the very least, let them know that you’re still there and excited to be able to welcome them back again!
Entice with a ‘Book Direct’ offer on your Website.
You can sure that when consumers look to start travelling again, comparison shopping will be a huge part of their path to choosing 'where', as they look to OTA’s to see how your rates stack up to your competitors.
Most potential guests who are considering booking at your accommodation will do some Googling first and, in many cases, will check out your website. That’s when you need to snag them. Your website should be set up to persuade visitors to book right there and then.
Offer an incentive for guests to book directly on your website without heading back to the OTAs. Whether it’s a discounted rate, extra services, or goodies at check-in, you need to entice them with a reason to book direct with you.
Direct website bookings are valuable not only because they are commission-free, but also because you then own all of the data on that guest’s path to purchase. On the whole and in the long run when used correctly, this data can be most valuable marketing tool in your kit.
Get A Head Start
With the summer peak season nearly here, the best time to start implementing these initiatives is now, so that you can ensure they are in place before people begin making their travel plans for this year and beyond.
For expert advice and professional guidance on implementing a recovery marketing strategy for 2021, give us a call here at Soul Motion. We’re here to make 2021 as profitable and promising year for our accommodation clients as we can.