Coronavirus – Pro-active Digital Marketing
18 March 2020
The Coronavirus is the biggest news headline for quite some time, and as yet it is difficult to see how things are going to pan out in the next few months. Regardless of what business sector you are in, the impact could be far-reaching.
If you are in the holiday park, hotel and wider hospitality sector, one thing is for sure, your guests will have questions about their bookings and your approach to the virus.
We appreciate that over time (and with government advice) those priorities will change. However, it is important to consider taking a pro-active approach to making that information available through your digital channels – and clearly this needs to be done in a sensible and non-scaremongering fashion.
You may already be addressing these things – which is great. However, here is a list of some things to consider:-
General Terms & Conditions
- Review your T&Cs and ensure they are correct and up to date
- Make sure they are easy to find on your website and in email communications
- Booking & Cancellation policies – review these and be explicit about what your guests can expect in terms of a refund or cancellation.
- Are you able to promote a super-flexible / book with confidence rate?
Look at the practicalities of allowing guests to move a booking to a new date should they wish to (reassuring new bookers as well). Evaluate your booking engine rates and descriptions to ensure that your cancellation policies, especially for flexible rates, are front and centre. Use ‘flexibility’ as one of your primary marketing messages.
Coronavirus Landing Page
- Consider creating a dedicated Coronavirus landing page like the one from Haven below. It is a good example as it clearly confirms their approach and leads guests through to key sections of their website and trusted resources like the NHS website. It also sets out the expectations it has of guests staying on their parks. Haven have also taken the step to add a prominent link on their home page to this landing page. See – https://www.haven.com/about-us/general-news
- Add a set of questions and answers dedicated to Coronavirus in your FAQs. Signpost to cancellation and refund policies.See – https://support.haven.com/app/answers/list/c/943
- Major on the hygiene and cleanliness of your park. Highlight any food and hygiene ratings.
Your Coronavirus landing page can be the place where you release updates about what is happening on your park and also signpost people in all of your communications, email marketing, social media etc.
Identifying potential booking hotspots
- We know that some holiday parks rely on bookings from specific areas of the country – say the Midlands or London. It could be useful to interrogate your booking system and identify any specific “hotspot regions”. Our thinking is two-fold; one to be aware of the number of potential bookings from a specific area. But also identify areas where you could pro-actively market to in order to reassure potential guests and drive new bookings.
- Get to know customers better with a deep dive into our Google Analytics data. Go through your analytics and sales/lead data. What do you know about your customers? What do you know about caravan sales enquiries that didn’t go on to do a viewing or make a sale? What is in the analytics data that you have missed in the past – are they on iPhones, do they all visit from city X? Compare offline and online trends and determine what could you fix today that you have never had time to do.
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a long-term strategy / long game – so don’t give up on writing good content for your blogs.
- Show your website a bit of love – you may have some time and space to review your website and plot your next digital steps. Run some page speed test, optimise your images and bring your content up to date. Maybe even try a bit of video!
- Update your Google My Business profile for local customers. Google wants local businesses to use the tools available within the GMB dashboard to let customers know what’s changed. Update your hours and business description.
- Prepare for the bounce back
The travel and hospitality industry is very resilient, and we would anticipate that once the situation improves, demand will return. Those people continuing to work (and not being able to travel) will be accumulating holiday entitlement – so the demand will be inevitable.
Website Content & Digital Marketing
- You may not be able to prevent cancellations right now however, Parks seen to be taking a pro-active approach can help maintain trust, build goodwill and help position their brand for gains when the coronavirus is a thing of the past. Keep blogging and adding content to your website and show your future guest why they should stay at your park.
- Some potential segments of your target audience may be more risk averse and are not interested in travelling at this current time, so it may we worth concentrating on specific segments.
- Investing more of your digital marketing spend on things like brand searches on Google and re-targeting can help to focus on the demand that already exists. Facebook advertising and Google Adwords are perfect tools for re-targeting – placing adverts in front of people that have already visited your website. If a potential customer is looking for your park on Google and has visited your website availability pages, they already have the intent to book. Investing more on re-targeting, search and the content on your website will help capture the high-intent customers and lead them to bookings.
Social Media & Reviews
- Use Google Alerts to set up some basic tracking of your park name – just to keep an eye on latest news that might reference your park.
- It is time to take a more pro-active approach to your social media channels and keep an eye on your comments and messages. Proactively share important information with your customers using email, your website, Facebook Page, Instagram business profile or however you typically connect. Remember that you can pin important posts to the top of your Facebook Page for quick viewing. Make sure notifications are set up so you see all messages.
- Have some pre-prepared social posts that you can use that includes all of the key information. You might include information about the measures you’re taking to make your premises or products safe, or how you will handle customer enquiries if there are expected delivery delays.
- Prep your social media teams to have a response ready for questions around the topic / refunds / cancellations etc.
- Work on Your Online Reviews Strategy.
The web is littered with online reviews that companies like yours haven’t answered.You don’t have to go back through all of your TripAdvisor reviews and answer each one, but this is a good time to make sure your more recent reviews have a thoughtful response. Create a reviews policy and, manage your online reviews going forward. Write some template responses and go over your brand messaging so you are prepared.
- Consider drafting templated responses for your emails or set up instant-reply messages with information you expect your customers will be looking for. Connect with your customers for free in real time using Instagram Direct messages, Messenger or setting up a WhatsApp Business profile .
- If you do get negative comments, try and take them offline as soon as possible. On Facebook – you can hide comments for instance.
- It pains me to write this but… having already received several scam emails that look very real it is worth taking extra care with incoming emails. Be vigilant, even scammers don’t give up because of the situation and they may increase their traffic knowing there is so much misinformation about or catching you unawares with some of the simple business tasks.
Although it looks like these next few weeks and months look set to be quite challenging, it presents an opportunity for your business to show it is taking a responsible approach to the outbreak.
Being pro-active, offering first-class customer service and continuing to market you park in a professional manner will also stand you in good stead for when we come out of the other side of this situation.