By Dev Kurbur, SVP of Global Customer Success
“Some companies will emerge stronger than before” – Andy Grove
Intel’s Andy Grove had a lot to say about how to react to downturns and setbacks. Here are just a few of his insights and maxims:
1) The first rule is that economic downturns always end.
2) Some companies emerge from recessions stronger than before.
3) You can’t save your way out of a recession.
4) The future favors the optimist.*
Milestone, Inc. has dozens of hospitality clients, so we decided to put together some recommendations for where to invest time and focus during the crisis and here we share them with the rest of the industry.
We group the recommendations in 3 segments: 1) Site Content, Site Technical, and Tracking, 2) Offer Strategy, 3) Distribution and Amplification
Site Content and Site Technical
1. Update your FAQs to address the issues
Address the questions your staff has been getting on the phone on your site and in your customer care knowledgebase. Update the answers every few days as needed to signal staff and customers that management is on top of and closely managing its response to the crisis.
2. Make sure your marketing stack maximizes traffic and conversion
Your CMS should help your team and site perform, and it should automatically enhance your ability to improve speed, mobile experience, and local SEO performance and maximize ecommerce results.
3. Focus on relative metrics, like share of voice
Adjust your key metrics to outperform your competition in share of voice and occupancy rates.
Andy Grove was not a Milestone customer, but more than 5 hotel chains we work with invested as he suggested in the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 and maintained more business and experienced outsize growth in the recovery.
4. Develop more messages and offers for local customers
This could be the staycation’s greatest season. Consider messages, like “you still need to relax, even if you don’t go far away.” Emphasize experiencing the pool, the spa, and offer auto-related amenities, like car rental or valet parking.
5. Turn crisis to opportunity for first-time guests
While avoiding simplistic deep discounting, the crisis and lower occupancy will likely lower prices. For example, for a high-end property consider trying to attract first-time guests with targeted offers that do not go to regular guests. Consider messages along the lines of: “There has never been a better time to try us for the first time.” Providing an excellent experience to a new customer will have very positive lifetime value impact.
6. Bundle products and services to increase share of wallet
Offer attractive packages that could include: accelerated member status, upgraded rooms, views, meals, room service, spa, parking, transportation, and even activities in the surrounding city. Offer bundled room service, especially to customers who are not on record as having used room service in the past.
At the end of last year, Milestone saw lots of friends and clients take optional air flights to secure miles or legs to insure member status in for 2020.
Create unique personal experiences to differentiate from other properties: live music, dancers, wine tasting, chocolate tasting, or guided meditation and yoga.
Offer free in-room movies to people who still want to enjoy movies but would now rather do so in a private room than a movie theater.
7. Increase local business and small group offerings
If corporations and associations have canceled events, encourage local businesses to take advantage of the properties with employee offsites or customer events. You may need to purchase or enhance the local business contact data in your database.
Consider reaching out to non-profits and churches to hold regular meetings, membership, or fundraising in idle venue space.
Distribution and Amplification
8. Pause paid campaigns in some affected locations
Pause paid campaigns and shift spending from countries with travel and flight bans to countries that do not have those bans. Shift your marketing focus to the driving radius from the property. This will require clean data that includes mailing address. CRM platforms, like Salesforce, can help target contacts within a specified distance from a location.
9. Invest in database records and ongoing database hygiene
The current crisis makes it plain why database maintenance is so critical. Acquiring names and permission to communicate to them is always a best practice, but having the database ready when needed to react to an evolving challenge like this will enable you to reach out with the updated bundles and offers.
10. Use the email channel for distribution
Send short engaging emails. Use an optimistic tone without seeming naïve about the challenge. Speed and being first in your market with a new idea is key. Test subject lines and CTAs to keep learning on what works best in the current climate. Be sure to comply with CAN SPAM Act, GDPR, and CCPA.
Andy Grove would appreciate the innovative thinking and the effort of investing ideas and technology in the face of challenges and the optimism to come through the challenge stronger.