Planning for Reopening: Third-Party Travel Marketing in COVID Recovery

Travel numbers and traveler surveys are giving the industry reasons to be optimistic. According to STR benchmarking, RevPAR is heading toward 2019 numbers in Asia-Pacific markets. Meanwhile in the US, occupancy reached its highest point since October 2019.  

In August 2020, almost half of all potential US travelers told Resonate they were not traveling until COVID-19 was “more under control.” As of June 2021, that number fell to just 26%, indicating that the majority of US travelers feel that COVID-19 is under control enough to start traveling. 

As travel enters this new phase of recovery, here is what hospitality brands should be focused on to win bookings over their competitors. 

Traveler Comfort & Safety 

People are daydreaming about travel. When people go on their next trip varies depending on their comfort level. So hospitality providers need to make them feel comfortable enough to complete their booking. This should be as simple as continuing to keep your COVID-19 safety measures listed across all direct and indirect channels. 

Many channels added additional content categories, both to the overall property features list, as well as the option of providing relevant media. Take advantage of this by sharing relevant photos, both on your direct channels and social media, as well as to booking channels like Expedia.  

A key component of ensuring traveler comfort is by presenting the same information everywhere. Confusion over what services are open or what measures you have implemented will lose bookings. Audit your channels to ensure you’re presenting the same data everywhere. The most important information to keep consistent across channels includes: 

  • Name, address, and phone number  
  • Photos and rich media 
  • Service availability and opening hours 
  • Property policies and additional charges   

Rather than manually auditing and updating this information across channels, consider software that will complete an audit for you. Automating this process will help you rank higher on OTAs, save you time, centralize essential property information, and create a single source of truth through any property-level changes or turnover. 

Stay Competitive  

More than ever, hotels are competing on price. According to Resonate’s analysis of consumer behavior, both cautious and eager travelers list price as a top priority for their first vacation.  

That doesn’t mean that hotels should be lowering their rates just to capture the early reopening travel boom. As our examination of past recessions has shown, brands that slash rates have a longer road to recovery. Instead, focus on areas you can be competitive in.  

Focus on the current trends in travel recovery. Leisure travel is rebounding faster than business or group travel. A significant portion of travelers’ first trip is to see family for the first time in a year. Gear your offering to this growing market by promoting relevant deals or offers that connect to local attractions.  

Make sure your brand and property websites are up to date with the latest news and offers at each property. It’s essential that your messaging is consistent and eye catching—especially on your direct channels. In these early recovery stages, direct bookings are key to keeping rates high. Use your website and booking engine to: 

  • Market to family and leisure travelers through relevant media and text 
  • Bundle up-sell opportunities  
  • Promote add-on services in the booking engine  

Leonardo is a website building expert, with digital marketing solutions that made for individual properties and hotel brands. Learn more about how we make launching and maintaining hotel websites easy.   

More Reasons to be Optimistic  

Across Europe, bookings are increasing. In some markets, rates are higher than 2019. In the US, some analysts point to corporate travel rebounding by the end of 2021. There is reason for optimism, which means now is time to shift out of defensive measures and make new investments, making the most of the resources available to hospitality providers and travel brands. For insight on how to do more with less, read our article, Optimize Your 2021 Budget in the Age of Furloughs