Is There a Life for the Hotel Marketing During COVID-19?

How to Cost-effectively Promote a Hotel amidst the COVID-19 pandemic?

It’s remarkable how fast we got accustomed to the new demands which our daily living has imposed upon us during the COVID-19. One of many customary things we have ceased doing is travelling. COVID-19 outbreak shook the hotel industry incredibly hard. If we checked the statistics of how the hotel industry has been affected by the coronavirus in the April-May of 2020, many of us would become startled. The ongoing coronavirus crisis has definitely become a real threat for any travel business all over the world, especially in the regions where tourists contributed to the country’s economy most. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has, nevertheless, made us look into alternative means. The latter are various online/offline solutions as well as integrated Internet marketing schemes.

Let us look into some relevant statistical data. The latest report of the UNWTO Tourism Recovery Tracker for 2020 shows that the hotel occupancy rates have been fluctuating steadily since the beginning of the pandemic. For example, in April of 2020 Europe had registered 11% of the total hotel occupancy. However, in October of 2020 this index has risen up to 31%. During the same period North American hotel market has advanced from 24% occupancy in April to a staggering 47% total occupancy in October. And although the November occupancy rates data is not yet available, with stricter lockdown rules and travel bans imposed by many European countries, it is predictable that the above percentage will decline.

For seasoned boutique hoteliers and massive hotel brands alike, a fast recovery of the market might not be anywhere in sight and the negative rates of the hotel searches and bookings are prime indicators of the current situation. In Europe we still have 55% reduction of the bookings for the first 10 months of 2020 comparing to the same period of last year, according to the above mentioned UNWTO report.

For hotel searches in Europe, this number stands at 49% for the 10 months of 2020, compared to the same period last year. For North America these rates are: 44% decrease in searching for accommodation and 41% decrease in booking accommodations, respectively.

Most of marketing tools that were widely used in the past no longer have the same impact. COVID-19 has challenged the hoteliers around the world into seeking new ways for promoting their businesses. Now many of them prefer using online travel agencies (OTA), i.e. booking.com, agoda.com, tripadviser.com. These online travel agencies’ main advantage is the search-engine promotion of your business. The downside of partnering with any online travel agency is the percentage a business has to pay on a booking.

VauBoo.com, on the contrary, proposes a free of charge use of its website until its first confirmed booking. Any hotel business can continue using VauBoo web platform for free for the first two months after your first booking is made. Moreover, VauBoo offers a combined Google/Facebook/Instagram all-encompassing marketing scheme that will increase the on-line booking potential of your accommodation business.

VauBoo maintains your complete confidentiality and does not disclose the final price agreement between a client and a hotel. Also: guests’ feedback, which nowadays is one of the most effective means of advertising in itself, is accounted for and rated accordingly.

For the hoteliers there is another power distribution tool: The Global Distribution System (GDS). GDS is a network which connects travel agencies with other service providers, such as hotels, airlines and car rental agencies. GDS helps to attract a wider number of clients by giving access to the data base for the travel agents around the world. Another benefit of GDS is the convenience and ability to expend the market reach by providing online travel applications for B2B, B2C, B2E, B2B2C travel portals. The world's largest systems are Amadeus, Galileo and Sabre. For hotels, booking through the GDS is cheaper comparing to booking with OTAs.

Do the traditional means of news and print marketing still work? No doubt. Despite the fact that the advertising and media market have changed drastically since the invention of the Internet, any product or service which stands out as a part of a major print or news source, is going to have many market advantages. However, simple flyers or press releases will no longer work. There has to be an eye-catching story that professional journalists as well as common people can relate to. Thus, publishing in several notable print sources can also help in the process of having impact on a wider circle of potential buyers.

With the ongoing COVID-19 challenge, it appears, there is only one most reasonable and best-balanced scheme for the future hotel marketing. It is a combination of online sources with carefully planned and well though-out print/media strategies.