Hospitality Communications Survival Guide in the New Tomorrow

By Shae Geary— Senior Communications Strategist
The hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic making strategic hospitality communications more important than ever for our hotels, resorts and destinations. While press trips and event promotion may be paused, there’s a critical need for hospitality communications that build trust and confidence around visiting your destination or property.

Prioritize Safety

Visitors won’t return if they don’t feel safe, and it’s not enough to assume that your guests know what you are doing to maximize safety, cleanliness and hygiene. A good place to start is a dedicated landing page on your website with detailed information, then linking to this page in your direct-to-consumer communications. In the age of visual shopping, you may even want to consider creating a video like this one that we created with Welk Resorts.

There’s a lot of confusion in the marketplace right now and by appropriately highlighting your company safety standards and new protocols, you’ll help visitors feel confident and secure in their decision to vacation with you.

Emphasize Social Distancing

In the age of pandemic, it’s no surprise that outdoor-oriented, uncrowded activities and settings are top priorities for potential guests. Your hospitality communications should be updated to reflect this trend.

Take time to assess your content library. If your images and messaging are lacking, consider a refresh now. Imagery that includes hotel room balconies, for instance, may be much more attractive to potential visitors than an interior guest room shot. Restaurant images that emphasize open-air patios and socially distanced tables as well as shots of outdoor activities like bike riding also will appeal to today’s consumer.

Consider using these images prominently on your website, social media and guest communications.

Embrace Local and Drive Market Media

With reduced budgets and staff, it’s critical that time and energy are directed to hospitality communications efforts that result in the highest return on investment.

With road trips and local travel recommended as the safer option in the short term, a priority should be placed on working with travel media and influencers in your closest drive markets. These media professionals are eager to help travel recover and know that there is pent-up demand for getting away. Use them to help deliver your safety messages and information about what to expect during a visit. People know that the experience won’t be what it was pre-pandemic and are ready to embrace the positives in what is being offered.

Third-party recommendations can go a long way toward ensuring potential visitors that a visit can meet social distancing requirements while also being fun and relaxing.

Monitor NIMBY Concerns

According to the most current destination research, a majority of residents remain wary about other travelers visiting their communities. As tourism reopens, it’s important for hospitality communicators to monitor the local sentiment and potential negative pushback, while being prepared to develop campaigns showing the positive impact of tourism and its vital contribution to the local economy.

Proactive outreach as well as savvy online reputation management are a must.

Don’t Overlook Internal Communication

During a crisis, especially a prolonged crisis, it’s important to deliver regular updates and expectations to your employees. These communications can include everything from information about what’s open to safety protocol reminders and even helpful tips for dealing with difficult situations unique to the pandemic such a visitor refusing to wear a mask.

Delivering these on a regular schedule in a snackable format can help reassure staff and avoid harmful speculation. Furloughed employees, especially if you are intending to hire them back, also should not be overlooked. Periodic check-ins, even if nothing has changed in terms of business status, can go a long way toward building continued loyalty so that they will return when you need them.

Retain Hospitality PR Professionals to Help

Strategic hospitality communications are essential for navigating your business rebound during these exceptional times. If you need help getting started, developing a strategy, or determining best practices, a hospitality PR agency is a great solution for maximizing your budget, even if it is just for the short term. Give us a call or email for a free consultation or to discuss your needs.

 

The Do’s and Don’ts of Business Social Media During a Pandemic

By Chloe Janda — Communications Coordinator

business social media dos and donts

Just as “stay-at-home” and “shelter in place” orders have changed how people spend their free time in the physical world, it has also changed how people behave in the digital world. According to the New York Times, the use of video chatting services has spiked, news outlets are seeing triple-digit percentage increases in web traffic and, unsurprisingly, time spent on social media sites is up across the board. With more people spending more time on social media and actively participating on the platforms, there’s increased opportunity for marketers to capture attention.

But with opportunity comes risk. Brands slammed for tone-deafness on social media is as old as social media itself. Nonetheless, some brands are nailing it. To make sure your business is talked about for the right reasons, let’s explore how to adapt your business social media strategy and get ahead.

The Do’s

DO Adapt and Re-strategize: A large part of this “new normal” is a need to adapt business operations, and your social media content needs to reflect that. Sharing what your team is doing adds a human element to your brand, shows successful examples of business adjustments, and connects with your audience in a real way. Recently we shared a screenshot of our weekly meeting on LinkedIn that was hat themed and tripled our average number of post engagements and quadrupled the average reach. 

DO Try Longform Content: IGTV (Instagram Television) and Instagram Live are all over everyone’s feed because people have time to create and consume long-form content. Videos on Facebook always perform the best and reach an older audience and YouTube and TikTok are most popular with Gen Z. Virtual concerts, Q&A’s, how-to’s, workouts, interviews, and conversations with people of influence are the most common formats because they work.

DO Engage Your Audience: Overcommunicating and sending messages that are succinct with your company is going to help your posts be seen. Every channel is congested with content, so the more you share the more likely you’ll be heard. Try adding in a call to action (CTA) for your audience to engage in a discussion with you in the comments. Make sure its relevant to the content of the post and that what you’re asking them to share is something you’d ask in a conversation. Try CTAs like “comment and share your experience doing ___” or “tag a friend and share a story you had ____.” If your engagement is struggling, check out HypeAuditor’s analysis of which topics are performing the best and the worst at this time and see if your brand can align with any of the growing ones. 

DO Use Legacy Content: Legacy content, aka content never shared or years old, is particularly prominent with sports accounts lacking new content or storylines to leverage. Sharing a huge past success or your brand’s “highlight reel” is a great way to keep your audience engaged without producing new content from scratch. 

Other than sports, celebrities and musicians have been posting old or never-before-seen performance videos, like Chance the Rapper. This content might seem old to you, but it’s new to your audience and will keep your brand relevant and forgotten.

DO Team-Up: Partnerships with brands or companies (e.g. giveaways, live videos, webinars) boost the coming together as a community idea to get through this strange state of affairs. The social media channels are oversaturated, but with a partner, you can cross-market two unique audiences and increase your following. We recently facilitated a product giveaway with an influencer whose requirement for giveaway entry was to comment the first thing you’ll do when quarantine is over. This resulted in over 350 comments, increasing her overall engagement rate and expanding our client’s brand awareness while positively rallying the community.

DO Check Your Performance Data: Maintaining a pulse on metrics, KPIs and what people are saying about your brand helps streamline strategy and clarifies what is working or what is not. Apps like Hootsuite and Sprout Social can make this process a lot easier, but each social channel also has analysis tools for business profiles. Check out these 10 Metrics to Track When Analyzing Your Social Media Marketing and see what method might work best for you so you can continuously evolve your messaging framework.

The Don’ts

DON’T Go Dark: Going completely dark, aka not posting anything, on a business social media account can cause a lot of harm. Not only will your engagement and reach dramatically drop as other similar businesses gain traction, but you’ll also risk looking out of step and panic-stricken. Even if it’s just one post a week, it’s better than nothing.

DON’T Use Pandemic Buzzwords: If you’re not in the healthcare space, avoid any posts directly giving information about COVID-19/coronavirus. “Self-care” and “unprecedented” are also overused buzzwords right now and while acknowledging that things are tough and your brand/company is supportive, at this point the messages surrounding these buzzwords are kind of moot. Never forget why your audience began following you in the first place. Stick to what you know and give them the content they want!

DON’T Push Sales Too Hard: The economy is struggling and so are sales but pushing the bottom line too much can be ill-received. Instead of straight forward sales messaging, try offering something to incentivize buyers. Many B2C brands are seeing successes by offering free shipping, discount codes, personalized messages, and self-care goodies included in shipped orders. If you’re a nonprofit, it’s okay to ask for help because those who can want to rally around the community. 

DON’T Get Political: Avoid reposting anything that could cause a political debate. No one needs more politics and you don’t want to start a flood of comments that are off-topic from your brand.

Overall, creativity maintains relativity during this pandemic. If your brand can create content that provides some enjoyment and distraction, you’ll find success, expand your consumer base, and strengthen your digital presence now and after this pandemic.

Reach out to us to discuss strategic business social media and communication planning at info@wrightoncomm.com.