From keeping up with a daily cascade of industry news to monitoring the ever-changing guidelines and restrictions surrounding COVID-19, we know that these past few months have been a tough balancing act for hoteliers. This overload of new information combined with updated operational protocols for cleaning and social distancing can make it challenging for hotels to manage all of the activities that go into operating and marketing during COVID-19.
To help our hotel marketing partners, we’ve put together the following checklist for reopening hotels or reactivating certain marketing channels. No matter where your hotel is in the recovery journey, this list can be customized to fit your current and future needs.
- Update your website messaging to indicate that your hotel is now open.
- Review website photos to ensure that the imagery matches your revised messaging (e.g. a focus on cleanliness or social distancing).
- Create a COVID-19 FAQ page to provide travelers with quick answers to their questions.
- Document measures your property has taken to comply with health protocols established by local governments and the World Health Organization.
- Promote accessibility and transportation amenities such as ample parking, shuttle services, and access to public transit.
- Ensure that the contact information for your hotel is up to date and includes multiple ways to get in touch, as many customers are now calling and emailing directly to ask questions prior to booking.
- Before launching any media, check that all on-site tagging is in place and functioning correctly for attribution. Consider a rolling launch before fully ramping up to validate tracking.
- If using a third-party ad server for reporting and attribution, make sure that all campaign, placement, and ad end dates are still valid to ensure proper reporting.
- Review and update your inventory list with all the open properties to leverage in your marketing campaigns.
- Inspect bids and budgets for all placements and programs to ensure they match the demand you are anticipating and require.
- Refresh any first-party audience segments in your DMP prior to activation to minimize exposure to customers who may no longer be in-market for travel.
- If you are sending any automated reports to partners or agencies, make sure that they are re-activated and the appropriate contacts are included in the distribution list.
- Review cancellation data for new bookings to avoid making incorrect decisions based on total cancellations.
- Set expectations that performance will likely be dramatically different than prior to pausing media, and it will continue to evolve over the coming months.
- Stay informed of any publisher initiatives or incentive plans to leverage.
- Set up a regular review cadence to revisit your marketing efforts as recovery happens and conditions change.
- Provide all media agencies with your reopening date so they can reactivate your search campaigns.
- Review and update your paid search ad copy and extensions to ensure that you are displaying relevant, up-to-date information that is sensitive to the current travel climate.
- Update your local listings (Google My Business, Bing Places, Yelp, Yext) to reflect new business hours, contact information, and any important check-in procedures.
- Utilize your SEO data to better understand any changing search behavior, and apply those learnings to your paid search campaigns.
- Apply negative keywords to make sure that your ads are not showing up around negative keywords related to COVID-19.
- Review keyword lists for new inclusions such as nearby properties that may be closed.
- Apply tailored keywords and restrictive match types to drive the most efficient per-click performance.
- Reassess your promotional extensions to ensure they are portraying an emphasis on social distancing (i.e. not promoting spas or pools).
- Build out detailed RLSA audiences to help continue a relevant dialogue with site visitors.
- If using a bid management platform for optimization, closely monitor the performance of your existing models when you reactivate, as they will need to “relearn” and you may experience dramatic swings in performance.
- Adjust mobile bid modifiers and your strategy for mobile bookings to account for the increase of users searching on mobile devices.
- Leverage callouts to highlight special messaging such as free cancellation policies and clean stay initiatives.
- Deactivate the TripAdvisor ‘business closed’ notification if implemented.
- Provide metasearch partners with updated cancellation and health and safety policies to be published on their sites.
- Work with metasearch publishers to showcase cleaning policies with banners, badges, and filters where applicable.
- Update itinerary strategies based on shifts in user behavior.
- Confirm that price accuracy and rates feeds are running as expected.
- Monitor key data points (advanced booking windows, length of stays, and geographic data) to stay ahead of trends.
- Create dedicated sponsored placements campaigns and reach out to publishers to ensure that new campaigns are whitelisted and to see if an additional insertion order is needed.
- Update your ad copy or callout to highlight updated cleaning measures, free cancelations, and other valued benefits (or features).
- Work with publishers to showcase cleaning policies with banners, badges, and filters where applicable.
- Make data-driven decisions for bidding in the right areas of demand such as booking window, device type, length of stay, etc.
Display and Social
- Hold kick-off calls with any managed-service partners to ensure they are able to support your needs and have clear goals from the onset.
- Validate all insertion orders and ensure that pre-existing payment terms are still agreeable for your business.
- Refresh creative for your display and social ads with messaging focused on thoughtful service offerings such as flexible cancelation, refunds, or rebooking policies.
- Re-evaluate any creative imagery that shows interactions like handshakes, hugs, large crowds, or other behaviors that go against social distancing norms.
- Apply location targeting to your campaigns to reach potential customers in areas where there is travel demand.
- Closely evaluate brand safety settings – consider additional exclusions around news, politics, and health-related content to avoid controversial ad placements.
- Review creative copy for phrases with double meanings like “going viral” or “sick and tired of” that could be misconstrued as insensitive.
- Focus on activating retargeting audiences first to focus on travelers that are already demonstrating interest before expanding into prospecting or new customer acquisition.