Let’s talk tourism today, but the story really is adaptable to other lifestyle industries: Why wait for walk-ins, tripadvisor or booking.com to bring you clients? Cut out the middlemen. Sell direct online to increase cashflow, margins and plan staff & operations better ahead. Consumer and their behaviour are changing this year, so experiences & marketing need to change too. People seek reassurance, freedom and good times.
The goal for hotels, restaurants and entertainment parks is simple: Get started fast:
- How can you attract more local visitors and remaining international travellers?
- How to improve operations and margins?
- Re-check your brand proposition? Is your client experience safe and unique?
- Is your product and it’s pricing simple & competitive?
- How can you help people in crisis locally?
Perfect time to adapt the plan of attack and play to your strengths. Most things are there: web, social media, hotline, online payment etc. to speak & sell directly to your client. On one hand, it has never been so easy for a business to go digital. On the other hand, it has never been that hard to get through the clutter. Building a brand and loyal customer are key and need a proper plan to create quickwins.
Solution: Direct-to-consumer strategy to create a connected digital ecosystem to scale your business. It works and is less complicated than it sounds.
10 ‘C’ steps:
- Consumer segments: Listen! What do they really want? What has changed? Find out what opens their heart and pockets. Safety first: Reassurance is a critical hygienic factor (f.e. yoobic), but only as part of an unique experiences it triggers sales. Don’t work with assumptions. Use social media or email to ask, what they are missing? Create segments according to their needs, behaviour & motivations. “men and women 20-39” is not helping.
- Customer experience: Re-position your brand to adapt your offering to the new circumstances. Make your clients want to buy into your brand. “Same same” is not enough, people want different. Keep your proposition unique and relevant. Youth travel with bus & shared tents might be difficult in 2020, but sport & fun day camps near home might work. Or take a hotel with beach club in Spain: International clients love an exclusive lunch on a sunbed in plain sun and they spend more money. National guests love shade, prefer late dinners and “lowal”, lower prices for locals. Repurpose your business.
- Create the best customer service & automise: When people arrive at your hotel offer digital automised services for a better check in. Hotelinking f.e. offers free wifi, a contactless check-in and manages the permission to contact clients (double opt-in) and increases guest satisfaction. Replace a telephone help-line with a text version to save your staff’s time: Use whatsapp, a chatbot or make a web Q&A to answer standard questions. Visitors need reassurance before they buy or book online: Offer virtual tours, money -back, free cancelation, online discounts, safety certificates, helpful or inspirational content (safety intro video, image gallery, guest comments & social media plug ins) and their preferred payment (paypal, creditcard, etc.).
- Capture and centralize client data: It is easier to convert an existing client than to hunt down an unknown client. Grow your database and centralize data in one CRM system like salesforce or pushtech. Invite people to sign up for freebees, events, sweepstakes or to support a good cause. The higher the quality of your client data, the less money you need to spend on advertising or paid media search. To get data, only ask for the minimum info like email or phone, always ask for their permission to contact.
- Connect the dots to improve your online experience and sales: No dead ends. Create a connected ecosystem of web, social, online reservation, payment, etc. that makes it easy to get from first contact to purchase. This is the core part, where strategic support is needed to create a simple strategy and a robust system that fits to your needs and DNA. This way you create quickwins faster and avoid costy mistakes. Improve your online experience mobile first. Social media and booking.com sales are mainly mobile. Even if desktop may convert more, the first contact of a client with your business is on their smartphone. Facebook just launched “fb shops” for small stores, next to their instagram eCommerce success story.
- Clients are your media: How visible are you? Improve your visibility / SEO via online reputation and other user generated content. CRM & Wifi services like hotelinking capture data of your guests and help to increase your social media and google rating. Provide instagrammable opportunities, be present on platforms like tripadvisor, local online guides (abcmallorca), post and repost. Thank people for their comments and ratings. Fix problems. Always offer a solution. Connect with influencers (multiplicators) and think of incentives to make them your ambassadors and come back.
- Content goes conversation: Stay connected online. How can clients interact with you online pre & post sale? Be personal, use storytelling and visualize how the new client experience will look and feel like. Show them “people like them: Use testimonials, influencer, social media plug ins, client ratings and comments. Create ways to start a conversation (chatbot, hotline, POS, social, email, etc.) to get people engaged and committed.
- Convert as hell: This needs a good system, analytics and constant work. Follow the 1-click-away-idea: the more steps, the more potential clients you will lose on the way. Keep things simple. Use 1-2 hero buttons. Watch how real people manoeuvre on your website. Orchestrate your tools and key messages over all platforms. Less is more. “Many” messages don’t stick, but confuse. Define input goals, iterate with winning formula and automise.
- Capitalize happy customers: How satisfied are customers? How do you know? Use automised emails etc. to measure their net-promotor-score and make them retain and refer. Offer loyalty program or incentives for the next stay or next food delivery. Cross-sell, up-sell. Create new services: as a hotel or souvenir shop, start an eCommerce shop with shopify. As entertainment park offer kids day camps and classes while schools are closed. Either way: Make your guests and staff feel special and make them share their love.
Last but not least:
- Care: Find ways to help people in crisis – with the power of your brand and team to help locally, where your business is. Sell masks and donate a part. Cooperate with local social projects or create one yourself. Doing good helps people and your business. It literally pays off to care: People buy more from a local business who invests locally. Your teams are more motivated in crisis (castenow study) and social heat gets reduced. Stay safe. Stay positive.