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Katie French-White

Katie has been working with boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, vacation rental properties, wedding venues and more for over 16 years. She is passionate about the numbers and helping properties succeed.

The COVID-19 crisis has out everyone in uncharted waters, and as a boutique lodging property, you must approach your digital marketing strategically during this sensitive time. Your image is everything and your policies and marketing message can make or break the next year. We have some key tips to properly market during this time to help you keep reservations you already have, and secure new bookings during the post-quarantine domestic travel boom. While the time might be uncertain, one thing is guaranteed, your actions now will have a huge impact on your bottom line when the world shifts to our new normal.

Mature woman planning travel

#1 Instill Trust

It is critical for you to instill trust for guests that have already booked, as well as guests that are considering booking their travel with your property. Here are some tips about how you can instill trust through your digital marketing.

  • Proactively communicate through all your marketing channels changes you have made to your cleaning and safety procedures, as well as booking policy changes.
  • Incorporate strategic messages throughout your website to explain why it is best to book small to stay safe.
  • Alter your booking and cancellation policy to be extremely flexible to encourage those to feel secure booking with you now.
  • Consider updating your SEO meta titles and descriptions on top pages to help instill trust since Google organic (should be) one of your top referral sources.
Responsive Hotel Website Design Examples

#2 Update Your Website

People are “hitting the streets” and by that, we mean the digital streets. They are perusing online like never before and you want to make sure to put your best face forward. It is time to update your website photos, content, and message. People are looking to escape and you have the opportunity to capture their attention.

  • Take out any amenities or services that you will not or do not offer, or at least add content stating this service is currently halted until further notice. This would include items like bottomless cookie jars, community food/coffee, spa services, group gatherings, and more.
  • Make sure to offer services for small groups. If you do not have an elopement package for smaller weddings, the time is now.
  • Define your safety measure with popular amenities. For example, you can still have a happy hour, but discuss how you have spread out tables on the patio and you serve the drinks and appetizers.
  • Change your pop up messages to get the message out.

*Find out more about the most important bed and breakfast design tips. There are over 70 tips.

Women on smartphone looking at social media

#3 Utilize Social Media More Than Ever Before

Many people are stuck at home and end up having their faces glued to their phones. Major cell phone carriers are even giving away free data to help their clients through this tough time and because of the increase in data usage. The time spent online has quadrupled with kids completing schooling online, families communicating online, and online shopping has also gone through the roof.

  • Now is not the time to push drastic sales. You cannot discount yourself out of a pandemic. Tread lightly with your messaging so as to not come off as tone-deaf.
  • While humor is generally well-received, now is not the time to be as colorful as usual. There is heightened sensitivity and erring on the side of caution is the best practice.
  • Make sure you have a relatable tone in social media and post consistently to keep in touch during this important time.

*Find out more about our top bed and breakfast marketing tips. There are over 60 suggestions!

Quote The Best View Comes After The Hardest Climb

#4 Stay In Touch & Be Uplifting With Email Marketing

Everyone is being bombarded with negative news in the media during this crisis. It is a breath of fresh air for your guests to receive an email that allows them to escape. Help your subscribers dream about their next vacation with an adventure to remember. Craft an exceptional email blast discussing your safety, promoting your best content, and encouraging past guests to book when they are ready.

  • Create the experience of your inn and area with well-crafted adventure blog posts.
  • Create excitement with your state opening back up for travel.
  • Urgency sales messaging is not going to resonate at this time.

*View the dos and don’t of email marketing for travel properties.

Paid Search Marketing for hotels

#5 Paid Search Offers Opportunity

The OTAs have dropped out of paid search, though for how long, no one knows. This offers an opportunity for increased exposure to the folks dreaming about travel. Everyone wants a vacation, people dream of the way life used to be and are excited about getting out and doing something fun. Having your website front and center in Google, Bing, TripConnect, and Google Hotel Ads is something all should consider and as soon as their budget allows.

  • Try testing staycation ad campaigns, as attracting new guests from your drive-market is going to be critical for recovery.
  • Promote your weddings and elopements offerings with unique ad campaigns if you offer those services.
  • Google Ads is going to be offering a credit to businesses because of the COVID-19 crisis. Make sure to check your account for this nice giveback.

Be proactive and not reactive with your digital marketing so you are prepared to hit the ground running when the flood gates open for travel bookings. The timing on this will be different for properties throughout the U.S. depending on when the governors open their states back up. We are in a unique situation and your actions right now are incredibly important. If you need assistance strategizing your survival through the COVID-19 crisis please reach out at sales@whitestonemarketing.com.

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