In the first weeks of the coronavirus crisis, Milestone created the Crisis-Recovery-Growth framework to help customers and the community address the rapidly changing conditions through their websites and in email. Then we created the Crisis-Recovery-Growth webinar series to go into greater detail about how each of the recommended steps for website, social, paid, SEO, local, and content.
Now that the reopening phase has begun in all 50 states, we are developing industry-specific content with a detailed playbook of how to get the reopening right and accelerate the recovery. We are watching patterns in China where midscale and economy hotels are recovering first, according to STR.
Milestone Research has found that the online travel agencies (OTAs) have started bidding on paid searches for hotel queries by location. OTAs have created new landing pages to convert local travel demand. Airbnb, technically the largest hotel network in the world, has started focusing on local travel experiences and emphasizing enhanced cleaning and continued flexible booking policies.
All signs are pointing to recovery and Milestone has developed a detailed step-by-step plan to help hotels increase bookings and occupancy rate.
Milestone has 4 key themes within the recovery framework:
- Building confidence
- Building demand
- Driving conversion
- Building trust
Milestone Research found there is pent up demand to travel, but customers are looking for getaways in the local area which they can drive to. With less paid advertising running, 84% of people are using organic, local, or going direct to websites. Search queries for “open hotels” are spiking more than 10-fold. Searches for “family hotels” are 3 times higher than searches for “business hotels.” Properties that match the audience’s interests and answer their questions will convert to bookings better.
Mobile usage continues to dominate in the hotel industry, so make sure your site has a mobile option that is fast and provides the right customer experience.
Review the CDC cleaning and disinfecting guidelines and the recommended cleaning solutions specified by the US EPA and create cleaning policies and procedures that meet or exceed those recommendations.
Start with your home page. Be clear and positive about new cleaning and hygiene policies that will keep prospective customers safe.
People want to know if you are open and what amenities are available. Make that information clear and visible.
Off the home page, create a care page that goes into greater detail about how the property is working to disinfect and prevent spread.
The new messages from the home page and the care page should be extended from the site to the social properties via posts and answers to frequently asked questions.
Properties should create new content with local activities that will not involve traditional crowded tourist attractions, like theme parks and instead identify more outdoor sites, like bike trails, hiking trails, lakes, rivers, and bird and animal viewing.
Create content around adjusted eating options on-property and by delivery. Identify ways to enjoy meals in private, uncrowded spaces from the room to the pool to the garden.
Getting organic right means getting your website and its local presence right. Some key steps are:
- make your site entity-SEO ready by adding error-free advanced schemas on all pages,
- improve the page speed score to more than 75,
- enable Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP,
- add or expand FAQs to increase visibility and improve customer experience.
Next, it’s time to turn paid digital marketing back on. The field is less crowded right now and the CPCs are lower.
Segment your email database by location and market the new policies and offerings to people within 120 miles or about 2-hour’s drive.
Driving Conversions: Profitably Capture Demand
Incentivize travelers with attractive offers, like fully refundable bookings, book now and pay later, local resident packages and holiday-timed events for Father’s Day or July 4th. Try limited-time offers and flash sales to drive conversion.
A Milestone customer who launched a paid media campaign in their top 10 local markets saw 3x increase in Conversions while also seeing a 25% rise in Conversion Rate.
Our strategy did not just show that travel demand exists and it can be captured. Our approach further proves paid media can be very efficiently making a reliable, profitable channel in these uncertain times.
The best way to build trust is the same as before the crisis, and that is provide an excellent customer experience that exceeds their expectations. Communicating with physical signs on the property and in the room will help reinforce the new hygiene policies and give guests more piece of mind.
Customers trust online reviews as much as word of mouth recommendations from people they know, so securing new positive reviews will reassure prospective guests and help traffic and conversion. Remind customers to leave a review when they checkout.
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Milestone has been serving the hospitality and other industries for over 23 years and helps some of the most premium collections and largest chains drive visibility and bookings. Most hotels use Milestone for omnichannel strategy, site design, CMS/hosting, AMP, schemas, and market-dominating technical SEO.
If you would like assistance with your reopening strategy and the ongoing campaigns, please contact your CSM or email us at [email protected].
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