Business resilience

Is the [insert the “C” word] crisis killing your tour flow? Of course, it is…at least for now. But smart marketers in the resort industry realize this situation can’t last forever. Any resort team that’s planning to be in business six months from now is initiating a campaign to establish their brand as a winner. The savvy players are playing long-ball and are actually paying more attention to marketing than ever. Take Tripadvisor® for example:

“sharon [sic for the lower case “S” but at least they tried to personalize it]: Everything you need to stay entertained at home…how to recharge and reconnect…”

The email then proceeded to offer a series of links to bloggers’ websites providing house-bound viewers with ideas of “what to play, watch and more.” The user can select from a carefully curated list of blog posts including these:

“Kids’ books that inspire wanderlust”

“10 books to read in 2020”

“12 podcoststo discover right now”

“The 13 best movies on Hulu”

“The most delicious ready-to-eat snacks”

“10 smartest ways to spend time at home

“12 best board games for the family”

Each post includes a link to the blogger’s site. So, the best part? Tripadvisor ® probably didn’t have to pay a dime for this very clever and engaging promotion. And, in the meantime, they essentially pulled up a chair for themselves in their customer’s living room.

If you are concerned about how you’re going to have a return to normalcy, then this is the time to focus on your marketing for the long-term. This is an unusually important, historic time to calm down and put a bad situation to use. This is a time when everyone is watching and listening. This might be the first time in our entire marketing career that everyone in your audience is aggressively listening — your customers, investors, prospective new hires, EVERYONE. The entire world is listening to every open media channel. If you have the right message, they will not only see it; it will be embedded in their brain along with their memories of these events.
Think of this: According to a March 24, 2020, New York Times report, social traffic and messaging on Facebook has doubled in recent weeks. Another article from SocialBakers shows that between December and March, the average cost per click in North America fell from $0.64 to $0.32! Everyone is sitting at home and clicking like mad! Resort Trades Weekly’s open rate last week increased 126 percent! Lou Taverna, CEO of Hospitality-1st.com – the travel and vacation industries’ go-to newswire, recently remarked on the spike in traffic. [Editor’s Note: If you’re not already subscribing to Lou’s wire, I’d urge you to sign up. His weekly Hospitality Industry Newsmaker Alerts”™ have a circulation exceeding 750,000 direct email impressions per month. Plus, his newsletter is e-delivered once a month to more than 92,740+ subscribers.]

In addition to acting as CEO for The Trades Publishing Company, my husband, Tim Wilson, also develops a specialized retirement community designed for RV enthusiasts, the Gardens RV Village. Our initial reaction was to pull the Facebook marketing ($ 5,000 / mo.). “Nobody is going to be listening; and they damn sure are not going to be touring,” was our early prognosis. We were only half right. They are not going to be touring, but every single one of them is sitting at home or in an empty office scouting out every media channel they can get. That’s why the websites are humming; that’s why the news magazines are being opened; that’s why the time is so right. That’s why we’ve turned up our activity. We’ll never again have a chance like this to make a positive impression and stand out from our competitors.

What is the right message for this time? It is NOT an offer or promotion; it’s your hand extended to shake your customer’s hand (well, maybe these days it’s an effort to give them an elbow bump). It’s like the clever approach Traveladvisor® took by providing a service that doesn’t appear to directly benefit the company’s bottom line but, rather, shows a caring, friendly spirit.

Other ideas, anyone?

Global Connections, Inc. sent a very simple email to their customers, business partners, and other stakeholders to say, “Your words of encouragement and understanding, praises of our employee interactions and the outpouring of shared vacation memories and desires for future vacations with us have been of great comfort and inspiration to our Global family. Thank you. While we’re all adapting to these circumstances, our values of service and family that have been the center of our business for over 20 years, continue to shine bright.” It was a positive message that showed heart. These are the kind of people with whom you want to do business.
Speaking of making a substantial gesture, General Manager of the Club Wyndham Austin resort, Joe Alkire, turns on the lights at the resort in a heart shape “to remind the Austin, Texas, community that we’re all in this together.”

Another great example came from Club Med. For all those languishing indoors rather than traveling to exotic locations, the pioneer of the all-inclusive concept launched “Club Med at Home.” The company’s website is providing downloadable ways to keep families amused including coloring book pages, recipes, playlists, streaming workouts, and…wait for it…virtual resort tours.

Is your resort exploring a unique marketing concept during this time? How about sending us a note to Sharon@TheTrades.com and your photo so we can share it in the next issue of Resort Trades!