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Your ultimate marketing survival strategy for the hospitality industry

Perhaps no other industry has been quite as badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as the hospitality sector. But although it may seem like it won’t be business as usual anytime soon, all hope is not lost.

We’re here to help you adjust your marketing and sales strategy to the challenges presented by COVID-19. This will allow you to re-structure your business temporarily so it can still operate during the various lockdown stages and once lockdown is lifted, you will have put your best foot forward to reap the rewards, and recover any loss in sales.

Ref: Zanthe Agrela

Here’s how to do it:

Check out the competition

Take a good look at your direct competitors. How have they adjusted to lockdown, are they providing a different kind of service temporarily? Have a look at their website and business listings online, follow their social channels and sign up for their newsletter to establish what you are up against, what they’re doing well and what they could potentially do better.

Make a list of some of those points with things you can learn from and where you can improve. Put these points into two separate categories, during lockdown and business as usual, so you know what to focus on first. Your first priority is getting your business through lockdown and remaining operational to cover expenses and keep your business afloat.

Temporarily put your paid media spend on hold

Put your paid media spend on hold temporarily. Focus your time and energy effectively during lockdown by enhancing and making your offering the best it possibly can be. By stopping your paid media spend, you’ll save your marketing spend for when you really need it- such as for a campaign push three to four weeks prior to you reopening for business.

However, break this rule when it comes to Mother’s, Father’s Day, public holidays etc., where you should take the opportunity to offer vouchers for sale at a reduced rate, or a special offer. By incentivising purchases through adding in more value, your clients will be more incentivised to purchase a voucher to use at another time and this will help your business still make sales during this time.

Adapt to survive

While lockdown is still in full swing, adapt your offerings so you can survive until you’re able to fully operate. Say your establishment is on a working farm, for example. You could obtain a permit to offer your farm fresh good to nearby convenience stores and to the public. You could offer your produce to chefs making homemade meals delivered to the public within a close by radius. Really think about what your business can offer during lockdown and start working on a business model for that, as well as the relevant permits needed. Once you have your permit to operate, start promoting this via social media and email marketing aimed at your current clients.

Know your strengths

Very often, marketing is the first place businesses cut down costs from. A popular trend for many small business owners is to try and manage their own marketing themselves. However, marketing just isn’t something you can DIY and, in most cases,, it’s better to leave this to the experts so you can utilise your expertise in the right place. In this time, you as the business owner should be focusing on what you do best and that’s managing your business, and learning how to adapt it during lockdown.

Therefore, your marketing really should be outsourced to an experienced digital marketing agency, which will cut down costs on you attempting trial and error marketing until you’re able to get it right.

Understand and adapt to the changing landscape after lockdown

Business conferences, big events and weddings are something you need to rethink as your business adjusts to the new normal. Upgrade your internet connection to provide faster Wi-Fi for the increase in all the Digital Nomads we’re expecting, and offer facilities for smaller, quieter Zoom/Teams meetings as an alternative to bigger conferences and team buildings.

Offer smaller, private wedding and special event packages. Should you have an existing email database of cell numbers and email addresses, keep this info for later on, when you can inform clients of your adapted offerings and how they can go about supporting your business.

Use this time wisely

Use this time to fix up older furniture, re-paint, and get on top of all the general maintenance you’ve been meaning to do, to give your business a fresh new look. Ask your Chef to update your menu with a new take on your old trusted classics. Add extra value by partnering up with other suppliers to enhance your guests’ experiences.

This could be things like offering extra activities for your guests’ stay, convenience offerings such as shuttle services and child minders, or special offers like private picnic setups and proposal setups.

Upgrade your digital presence

Utilise this time to upgrade your website with a fresh look, using up-to date images and more relevant content about your business and new, improved offerings. Enhance the customer experience with added extras, including all relevant info on your website. For any industry sectors providing events, you really should have a blog and upgrade your digital booking facilities, upgrade the photos with up-to-date images not only on your site and social media pages, but also on other third party sites that have your establishment listing.

Keep your organic game strong

Organic social media posts cost nothing (other than production time for your marketing agency). By utilizing organic social posts, your business won’t look dormant yet you’ll be saving money on your paid media spend. Likewise, if your website has a blog, get your marketing agenc to produce content for you such as “2020 Wedding trends for the hands on Bride” or releasing your “Full menu for Father’s Day home deliveries” or “15 of the best places to visit while in Knysna”.

Keep your blog up to date by posting new, fresh, relevant content at least once every two weeks. Take progress shots of your maintenance, take photos of your Chef trying out those new meals and so on. Get your marketing agency to touch up your photos, add clever copy and use the right hashtags to get your content noticed and create excitement around something new and exciting that’ coming.

Build up your brand loyalty

Utilise email and social media marketing to build up your brand loyalty, send discount codes, host social media competitions and special offers to your customer database. This includes offering vouchers up for purchase in the interim which they can redeem later on.

Sell your offering

Once you have a shiny new space, new offerings, added value and additional facilities, make sure everyone knows about it. Start with taking great photos of your new additions. This could require getting in a professional photographer (with a permit to work), to come in when no one else is around and capture everything so you have the best images to showcase your offerings. Send these high-quality, finished product images to your agency and they’ll work this into your social media marketing as well as your newsletter.

Re-adjust for life after lockdown

Once all stages have been lifted, your business should be good to still provide business as usual for the most part. You’ll need to use all your saved-up marketing spend at this time to really give your business that needed push. Your marketing agency can work out a strategy of which channels should be promoted, utilising your new images in new creative that will give your establishment that upgraded look.

This push should be aimed for three to four weeks prior to opening for business as usual.

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