Evolving marketing trends in the hospitality industry
COVID-19 has changed the world as we knew it, and it has affected everything and everyone in some way or the other. The good news is, a vaccine to protect against the disease has been released in record time, unprecedented in human history.
No matter when the pandemic is wiped out, it has brought paradigm shifts in the way the world works. At the forefront is the hospitality industry. After the initial shock delivered by lockdowns, restrictions, and losses in the early part of 2020, the industry was able to see the silver lining.
However, it has now been hit by a much stronger second wave of covid, which began in the month of March 2021 in India. The situation has never been so dynamic and so brutal. But hospitality is one of the oldest industries in the world, and it is not unfamiliar to tough times. The dark clouds shall pass, affirm stakeholders.
Here are some of the important trends and patterns being noticed and implemented in hospitality marketing during the ‘new normal’.
Shift in consumer behavior towards hygiene
Marketing starts from the consumer, and in hospitality, consumers are called ‘guests’. There has been an increased behavioural shift towards safety and hygiene post the pandemic. Guests now want to see real and credible efforts from establishments towards safe and hygienic practices.
Organisations need to be transparent and responsible to adopt safe practices, implement standard operating procedures, employ, and train manpower to keep safety at the top of the agenda at every touchpoint, and need to communicate these efforts to the target group to earn their confidence.
Digitisation to minimise human contact
Hospitality has predominantly been a high contact industry. But post the pandemic, organisations are adapting technology to minimise human contact to the lowest possible levels.
Online check-ins and check-outs, online ordering, digital menus, contactless payments, augmented and virtual reality systems are only few of the things that hotels have started including as part of their offerings to keep human contact at the lowest possible levels.
Listening is important
Word of mouth is the most important form of promotion in the hospitality industry and word of mouth is not merely word of mouth anymore; it now extends to social media, blogs, forums, online reviews and what not.
Social listening and online reputation management has become extremely important in the industry. It not only helps to discover problems or a crisis early but also keeps the brand abreast wit valuable market intelligence to track patterns, trends, shifts, need gap etc. continuously. With the uncertainty around, listening continuously to your customers is extremely important.
There is a huge demand for personalised, safe bubbles post the pandemic, specifically in the upscale segment. People now prefer a place which is more intimate, personalised and secure. L
ot of hospitality brands are diversifying into serviced villa/apartment rentals, co-working spaces, and also into food delivery, laundry & housekeeping services etc. for ancillary revenue. So, marketers’ ‘to do’ list now is more versatile and dynamic.
Focus on domestic market
With the outbreak of the pandemic and ensuing travel restrictions, people are preferring domestic destinations more than planning a vacation abroad.
Organisations and marketers have started rolling out the red carpet to domestic guests with attractive offers, no cancellation fees, and ‘staycation’ packages which is helping increase the occupancy rate at domestic destinations.
Content is the most important fuel to run the engines of marketing these days. Unlike paid advertisement, content is non-intrusive and helps in creating trust and connection with the brand.
Content can take various forms like videos, images, infographics, testimonials, newsletters, blogs/vlogs etc., and can be either created by the brand or by the users(guests), influencers or professional content creators.
In the digital era, when everyone is consuming content 24x7, brands must think out of the box and create content which is clutter breaking, responsible, trustworthy which not only adds value to the consumers life but also connects with his emotions. The job of content is not to sell but to make ‘sale’ the obvious outcome.
Charles Darwin once said, "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Marketers in hospitality must keep a track of the changes in consumer behaviour closely. This will also help them realise how, why, when and where to utilise the strained marketing budget.
Even after vaccinations are done and restrictions lifted, hospitality brands need to focus on the points discussed above for quite some time in future to build a sense of trust, safety, confidence and comfort around their brands.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)