Meeting the Needs of the Post-Shelter Traveler
Attention hoteliers. A big question your branders and marketers want you to ask as they prepare Post–Shelter strategies is: What are my analytics revealing about my guests?
The Fall and Rise of the Industry
In the United States, the U.S. Travel Association anticipates 4.6 million travel-related jobs will be lost this year — the American Hotel & Lodging Association puts that number at approximately 4 million already lost in March 2020. If you’re a hospitality-related executive, you know firsthand the regrettable contributions you had to make to this number. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the reality of the situation we’re facing. On the consumer side of things, we’re seeing similar plunges as well with an expected 31% loss in consumer travel spending this year. The challenge becomes: how can hospitality leaders take this adversity, look ahead and plant seeds today that’ll motivate reservations — resulting in greater revenues later this year and into 2021 — which in turn re-employs valued and valuable personnel?
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Industry Partner Response
The premise that most marketers and travel executives agree on is: “You can’t travel, so we’ll bring travel to you.” It’s been a heart-felt time of bonding and strengthening relationships between SMART travel branders and their guests — powered by messages to keep travel alive in the hearts and minds of those adjusting to a life at home, giving them hope and something to look forward to in all of this. The industry’s creativity with virtual shelling, virtual bike rides, virtual concerts, gift cards for future visits and more has been inspirational to see. It’s also been a time of immense government involvement through financial support, grants, stipends and loans to support a dire economic situation.
Behind the scenes, all involved parties are changing — consumer priorities, preferences and mindsets are changing; hotelier experiences are changing; while both consumers and brands are learning what’s truly essential and valuable in their lives. And, as much as we’d all like to hope — neither will come out of this the same.
Determining Next Steps
Understand the trends that are happening and ask: What does my data say about my brand’s traveler? And based on this, what strategy will convert these messages of hope and engagement into increased RevPAR later in the year?
With so many internal, external and environmental factors changing — no one can say for certain how this global experience will impact your brand’s travelers. Industry partners mostly agree that vacationers will choose to travel closer to home for shorter stays until they feel safer and more secure with the state of things — thus assigning media buys to a drive market may be a viable option.
That’s a solid general assumption based on educated speculation, but it doesn’t help clarify HOW or WHAT messaging is best suited for your brand that can seriously drive your recovery. So then, what should you do?
Your brand’s analytics may fall right in line with what is happening across the industry — or you may find an opportunity that gives you a unique approach, a competitive advantage. Previously successful strategies, messaging, targets and channels may not work in the future. Which brings us full circle: you have no way of knowing until you look at your data.
Where Will You Land?
No one can predict the future, particularly in a global pandemic. But we can CONTROL our own futures, to some extent, by recognizing that besides adventure, relaxation and fun — tomorrow’s traveler will quite likely rank confidence, trust and peace of mind as equally important in their choice of destination. Now’s the time to examine how you as a travel brand can answer those questions and satisfy those desires just as quickly as possible. Note to self: if your agency isn’t stepping up to this plate, we know one that can.