Don’t kill the marketing budget

September 28, 2020 Marc Liu

 

With so many would-be travelers no longer traveling due to COVID-19, the hotel industry has been hit hard. With all markets including luxury, urban, convention, corporate and Las Vegas reporting losses, hotels are closing daily, some of them permanently. 

 

Though measures have been put in place to help stimulate the economy such as the Paycheck Protection Program and airline bailouts, these measures have not made a significant impact, and many are calling for a second round of benefits as shutdowns continue. 

 

All of this is what we do know. What we don’t know is what the future holds, from either a public health perspective or from an economic standpoint. Add into the mix that it’s a Presidential election year, and the uncertainty only increases. 

 

Have I depressed you enough yet? 

 

We’re not out of the water yet. Things may get worse before they get better. Undercapitalized hotels will likely face hard cuts, and may end up closing, while others may be forced to downsize their workforce, even if only temporarily. But hotels that are surviving, and in some cases, thriving, have not gone silent and cut their marketing efforts completely. In fact, successful hotels like The Marmara Park Avenue and Getaway Hostel are using marketing to recover effectively, tapping into teams and tools that provide strategies to pivot to where demand can be found. 

 

Downsizing often means cuts to departments such as sales and marketing, but before you cut your own teams, consider these four reasons why marketing is an essential service to your hotel that should be protected and maintained for your livelihood: 

 

  • The hotel industry is changing at lightning speed. Marketing helps you understand how to pivot. As a result, hotels will need to stay on their toes to keep up with these changes, which may challenge preconceived notions of who exactly their guests are. More than likely you will need to make several attempts to figure this out. Whether its drive market, staycations or high spenders, this is where your sales and marketing team’s expertise will come into play. 

 

  • Your sales and marketing team provides your business with valuable services, like market presence and nurturing back loyal guests, so don’t close them down completely. If you truly must lay off or furlough staff, consider using more flexible resources such as freelancers or agencies in the mid to long term. This will allow you to maintain your presence in the marketplace and maintain your relationship with key customers. 

 

  • If you do end up laying off or furloughing staff, make sure you have a list of the tools they were using and a firm grasp of how to use them. This might include CRM software such as Navis as well as any other tools used for sales, revenue management, operations, training etc. Very often, these tools are brought on board by different staff members, and hotels might not have a consolidated list of the tools, let alone a good understanding of how they work. A hotel that reduces its sales and marketing staff may well find itself unknowingly paying for a host of unused tools. Also, make sure you know the implications of shutting down these tools before you pause or cancel them, as you will likely want to use them again once your business picks back up in the future.  

 

  • The important thing to remember is that despite all the uncertainty, there is still hope and opportunity. Hope floats and marketing reveals it, showing you where the glass is half full vs. empty, providing your team with the insights to put on those floaties and get back in the game. The hotel industry is fighting back, and there are still opportunities out there, including staycations, extended stay in mid-tier, vacation rentals (as some urban guests seek respite in nature) and some groups even using this opportunity to expand through organic growth and acquisition, with others still hedging their bets on group business travel returning. 

 

While some of these opportunities may not be the right fit for your hotel, other opportunities will come along. Overall, occupancy rates continue to rise and hotels that have the right tools and team in place will be best positioned to capitalize on the recovery. 

 

Marc Liu is Co-Founder of ELMNTL (elmntl.co), an integrated marketing and communications agency serving tourism and hospitality clients around the world. With offices in New York, Dallas, Manila and São Paulo, ELMNTL has partnered with destinations such as Thailand and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as hotel brands such as Selina Hotels, Coury Hospitality and The Marmara. 

 

ELMNTL is a trusted agency partner of NAVIS, with their services complimenting our technology and services beautifully. To learn more about ELMNTL, visit https://elmntl.co/​  

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