Generate more bookings during COVID-19 recovery through Digital Advertising

Eric Oppegaard

Resetting Hotel Digital Advertizing in Post-Pandemic times.

Resetting Hotel Digital Advertizing in Post-Pandemic times.

No matter what phase of recovery you are in, there are many ways to drive demand and generate future bookings. Maintaining digital advertising isn’t just important now: Absent any investment, you’ll concede market share to competitors and online travel agencies – and when the recovery starts, you’ll have to work twice as hard win it back.

A highly targeted, bottom-funnel strategy enables your property to pick up any existing demand and cement your position before competitors and online travel agencies begin aggressively threatening your share again.

Before we dive in, be sure to visit our ultimate guide to hotel marketing to access an all-encompassing rundown of hotel marketing trends, data points, and insights.

Build profiles of the guests who are still booking your hotel

The best way to optimize your spend on search, display, and social advertising is by knowing exactly who is still booking your hotel, and what feeder markets they are coming from.

Use data from localized market reports and your own CRM and reservations system to build profiles of the travelers booking your hotel now:

  • How is demand trending in your area?
  • How much of that demand are you capturing?
  • Are people booking stay dates in the near future, or months in advance?
  • Where are your guests traveling from?
  • Corporate or leisure travel?

Remember: Market conditions are changing at a light-speed pace, and your buyer profiles are only useful if they’re accurate. It’s vital to monitor your local conditions as closely as possible and update your buyer profiles to reflect what’s happening in your market and at your hotel.

Shift spend to the people still traveling – and be prepared to keep shifting

Hyper-targeting bottom-funnel campaigns towards audiences with true travel intent is the key to cost-effectively maintain visibility and capturing available demand in your market.

Even when there’s a drop in relevant searches (and delivered impressions, clicks, and conversions as a result), reactive ads are still served to audiences who have shown travel intent by visiting your website or Googling your brand.

  • Own your name with brand ads: Don’t let competitors show up before your property in organic results for branded searches.
  • Target audiences booking now: Advertise disproportionally to top feeder markets and audiences that have true travel intent.
  • Leverage your contact listUse CRM data to target loyal customers with traditional PPC campaigns.
  • Emphasize remarketing: Capture interested audiences by focusing display and social ads on people who have visited your website and engaged with your content before.
  • Promote bookings with long lead time: If your region is undergoing travel restrictions, focus on driving bookings further in the future.
  • Increase regional targeting once regions start opening: Geo-target your campaign to capture demand from guests within driving distance who are traveling but do not want to fly.
  • Use negative keywords: Prevent clicks during searches related to COVID-19 and coronavirus so that you don’t end up paying for someone looking to cancel their reservation.
  • Pivot to what works: Eliminate spend on lesser performing audiences, but expect lower-than-average returns on campaigns. Compare performance to current market conditions, not your usual benchmark.

Focus messaging on guest comfort and safety

Whether they are still intending to travel or are considering rescheduling their trip, your guests are stressed about the impact their stay could have on their health. Make sure they know that you prioritize their well-being and that their concerns are top-of-mind.

  • Include rate guarantees and mention flexible re-booking policies: Generating reservations now has value for future remarketing even if the guest subsequently cancels.
  • Craft a helpful, mindful tone: Consider the wording of your message and how it might make your audience feel. Highlight the steps you are taking to prioritize your guests with promotions that emphasize relaxed cancellation policies, strict housekeeping standards, and any operational F&B service – even if it’s only room service.
  • Make sure your images are appropriate: Now might not be the best time for a picture of people shaking hands or a group enjoying happy hour.

Search and display advertising isn’t the only type of marketing that can help.

This crisis marketing series is built to help you navigate this pandemic and provide useful, practical information that you can start implementing today.

 Up next: Marketing to Mitigate the Impact of COVID-19