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Reimagining Hospitality Marketing Part 2: From Digital Marketing to E-Commerce

In part 2, we explore various digital marketing channels utilized in the Hospitality Industry. How will the industry stay engaged and connected while transitioning into e-commerce?

The world is currently living in flux, customers are trying to adapt without a lot of ground, and shifting of our behaviors during this crazy time. Businesses are facing uncertainty while still being efficient and catering to customer wants and needs. As we seek the light in this long dark tunnel, this ever-evolving situation will change.

Customer's choices and habits have become increasingly complex with exponential growth and influence of the digital world and the pandemic. Hoteliers are forced to incorporate and invest in digital marketing and technologies to facilitate the best user experience, provide exceptional customer service, be efficient, and increase revenue through different channels like websites, mobile apps, and online stores.

Hoteliers have to be COVID- Conscious. Highlighting and protecting the hotel's health and safety procedures has taken into account to protect hotel guests, employees, and visitors—the COVID-19 health and safety message is screened on every hotel’s website. The key is to communicate and offer reassurance to hotel guests before they arrive.

To keep spirits lifted during this dismaying situation, customers can buy gift cards on the hotel's website. These gift cards can be redeemable later from 3 months to a year or two years down. The purpose of gift cards is to encourage people that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and there is something to look forward to in the future. Gift cards from Hilton Hotels, Marriot Bonvoy, and Four Seasons are redeemable at all hotels and resorts worldwide for overnight stays, dining, spa treatments, and other experiences. This method is a great way to support the hospitality industry in the future during COVID-19.

Many hotel's loyalty membership programs such as Marriot Bonovy, World of Hyatt, Hilton Honors, and Accor Hotels offer status extensions for all elite members, waive or pause expiration points, and other adjustments to their loyalty program. IHG Rewards has taken a different approach by lowering its elite status threshold. This makes it easier to gain points and obtain an elite status once COVID-19 settles down. The airline industry has taken these approaches for their frequent loyal flyers.

Mobile users have long since overtaken desktop. Since customers use mobile for research, booking, and communication, hotels need to create a mobile-friendly website accessible, convenient, and easy-to-use apps. Customer service and guest satisfaction factors critical in the hospitality industry. Mobile apps help increase brand awareness and recognition. Mobile check-in apps now enable guests to enjoy a seamless check-in experience without needing a traditional key. It is contactless, therefore hygienic, during this pandemic. Besides checking- in, a hotel app can act as a tour guide. This innovative feature provides leisure travel opportunities to receive advice based on the guest's preference, attracting visitors, what to eat, and what to explore locally. Guests can make a reservation for dinners, spa appointments, laundry services, room service, and payment of accommodations and services all through the mobile app. The self-service model is what people prefer face-to-face interaction rather. A beneficial feature on the mobile app is the loyalty program. Guests can easily collect and keep track of their loyalty points and potentially cash in their rewards instantly, all using the hotel's mobile app.

Many food and beverage businesses have temporarily closed their doors leading to the abrupt loss of dine-in guests. However, for those that chose to remain open have succeeded and survived with takeaways and delivery options. Restaurants were heavily dependent on 3rd party delivery platforms such as Deliveroo, FoodPanda, and GrabFood during Circuit Breaker.

With the closure of retail stores, entertainments, and other establishments, people have become conscious when stepping out. Making e-commerce the solution for a contactless, flexible, and seamless shopping experience. From groceries, apparel to digital health service, and even digital streaming, we see an increase in the sale of products and services online.

Payment is the last step in a customer's shopping journey. The purpose of the E-commerce business is to offer ease of access to products and services. Credit Cards, E-payment, digital-app wallets, and bank transfers are online payment methods that make shopping flawless.

As the hospitality industry moves to e-commerce, how should the industry stay engaged and connect their online products and services to customers?

Hoteliers need to be active, responsive, engaging and have an overall presence in the industry. Thus, building essential credibility and trust. Hoteliers should keep in mind by reaching out to existing loyal guests and potential customers and implementing digital marketing strategies by leveraging digital channels will increase bookings and stand out from competitors. Hoteliers need to adopt the current digital marketing trends to be part of the digital way of life.

By showing engaging content on online materials and social media, the usage of hashtags, blogs, and high-quality video content are powerful marketing method creates brand awareness and capture the audience attention. Especially during monthly unique promotions (10.10 or 11.11), seasonal and holiday season, and minimum spending incentives.

User-generated testimonials, comments, and feedback forums are part of every traveler's booking journey. Based on these social publications, Hoteliers can indicate the service, products, or quality the hotel need improvement on and create a personalized connection with guests.

How do hoteliers analyze if their digital marketing campaigns are working?

When a guest downloads mobile applications, it can gather data and insights based on in-app user behavior. This is a useful function for the hospitality industry because the data provides insights into customers' preferences, what kind of service they use, and how users interact, and more.

Push notifications are a great hotel marketing tool that can help create added value and increase their revenue. We all are aware push notifications are text messages from the hotel app that pops up on your phone screen containing hotel's time-sensitive exclusive offers, Call- to Actions, event reminders, or news. There are two relevant tips for hoteliers to consider:

  1. Segment guest's preferences, interests, or demographics through CMS analytics tools

  2. To get the users' attention, make sure the message is selective, and content and image is engaging.

Let's not forget that traditional email marketing continues to be a useful method to reach out to existing loyal guests.

The ease of access to products and services, engaging content, and personalized connection through digital channels can test, analyze, and gain insights on how hoteliers can approach and implement their digital marketing strategy.

In our next blog part of this series, we will explore how the hospitality business can crystalize a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that drives ease of access, amplified customer engagement, personalized connections, and leverages data & analytics. Transforming a traditional high touch business in its new digital avatar.

Rev-Mantra management consulting services focus on our clients' most critical issues and opportunities: strategy, marketing (offline/online), distribution, sales representation, and analytics across the service industry and geographies. We bring deep, functional expertise, but are known for our holistic perspective: we capture value across boundaries and between the silos of any organization. We have proven a multiplier effect from optimizing the sum of the parts, not just the individual pieces.

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