Marketing Secrets - Pt4 Marketing to win your share of the business

Includes a marketing messaging matrix for covid and sales messaging. Plus what to do in the short-term, for summer and for autumn.

Upcoming trends covering: capturing customer data, dynamic pricing, social media, Google core update, Google Analytics v4, gift vouchers, metasearch....

 

Webinar transcript

Pete:

So, talk a bit about marketing. All those things we've just seen. And marketing is obviously a huge topic, and we're not going to be telling you how to do marketing, but just a few little dips into it, really. I wanted to share a matrix, I'm going to show how we think we should be communicating COVID messaging against sales messaging. So COVID messaging first. Obviously, on your websites, maybe on your FAQs or in your refund policy. I think it's time to take off if you've got a red banner saying, "We're closed or COVID secure, or anything just a bit too in your face, I'd probably take that off now. People are booking breaks to get away from COVID. So yes, it's important and you need to recognize it and obviously be safe, but I don't think you need to absolutely focus on it.

Pete:

People are looking for all those fantastic ideas, I think that we just talked about. So again, not them but on pop-ups. If you've been keeping your Google My Business update with your status and putting that back to open when you're open and using email for automated daily pre-stay, it's a good way of communicating your Covid message, and I wouldn't put it on social or online ads at all, I'd just steer off that. I wouldn't put photos of staff in masks and anything like that, I'm just going to look for the really positive images and all the great stuff that you're already known for, or want to be known for.

Pete:

In contrast, the sales messages, or any of the things we just discussed, obviously, on the website, great offers, landing pages, pop-ups for accommodation that would be normally booked direct a best rates kind of a pop-up. And it's a good opportunity if you're moving from a different trends then you're going to need to refresh your keywords like, talking right at the top of the morning to help your ranking in that email. And email is great for targeted offers, social, just lots of positivity, lots of lovely photos and online ads as is absolutely brilliant at the moment. And the cost of online ads has become much more affordable because it's so, say, less of the bigger competition or advertising at the moment. So I imagine that will change in the next few months, but all the way through a lot down it's been much more affordable. So if you can't afford to do it, you got much, much more for your money because the cost per click is so much lower at the moment and the demand is pretty high. So if you're offering just a direct booking ad then we've seen that working really well.

Pete:

So in a very short term like now-ish you think welcome back offer is potentially for the hyper-local looking for impulsive decisions, people are literally deciding, "Oh, let's go away this weekend," normally planning, and celebrating the local and the community I think it's important. During lockdown, there's a whole pretty unusual shift wasn't there in any way you live, but on the local, in the community and people helping each other out, and I'm sure many businesses are at the heart of that, helping maybe with food or doing takeaways. And then you can really celebrate that now.

Pete:

And the benefits of not traveling too far as came in the comments earlier, not flying and expecting hopefully average days to be a little bit longer, but still needing to keep those flexible cancellations. I think people were quite banned by some airlines really didn't do themselves any favors and people are just much more aware of everything they've booked now that they want to check what the policies are just in case.

Pete:

Summer bounce back. I think it's going to be great for many sorts of amount of staycation, having outdoor activity holidays. But we'll say, if you're not a huge resort that we're I think something as beautiful as well, many people will want to get away from the crowds and still be able to have a lovely, lovely break, but not have to have it with everyone else. So I wouldn't worry if you're a small and remote, tool is better than strength. The great British holiday it's going to be a big thing this year and celebrating togetherness, bringing everyone back together this summer, it should be a nice time.

Pete:

And finally autumn/winter, which many people in the poll, I just remembered, we're saying was a bit more difficult. We're expecting those seasons to be long and booking windows to be short. So I wouldn't worry too much, the autumn/winter hasn't come in yet, but certainly consider your rates and packages. I wouldn't put your rates down at all, I'll keep them high if you can, and create packages that are relevant, obviously, targeting adults without school children. Family and school holidays do kind of fill up everywhere a little bit in the July, August time but after that, this may be the older people or the younger without children, and looking at spa and wellness type breaks. If you don't have a spa, you can still do all those wellness type things we talked about.

Pete:

If you're in really remote, that's fine go for it. I mean, that's a great angle to have. And Christmas, of course, they didn't quite used the words, Christmas is canceled, but it kind of was, wasn't it? Without it being said, Christmas is canceled. So we're expecting big Christmases this year and friends and family want to get together like they just haven't done before, I'm sure. And if you're doing a combination, if you're open over Christmas and then Christmas new year, longer packages may well be worth looking at and putting those out as well.

Pete:

We're nearly at the end. We've talked a lot about a lot of different topics and there's tons more we wanted to talk about. We normally do these as whole day events and we would have put in even more content. I mean, just some of the things we would have loved to have covered, and there's going to be announcements about outbound travel soon. So it there is a lifting certainly in Europe and that will mean it will be more competitive for everyone here on the call for getting those domestic travelers. We're waiting to see what the outcome is but I still think even if you are allowed it will be fewer people going abroad. Claire might want to talk about capturing customer data, she's been doing some research.

Claire:

Thank you, Pete. So yeah, we've been talking to our clients and smaller businesses. And one of the things that has been mentioned quite a lot is the inability to really capture customer data. And for us as a business, that's a real key point because for those businesses that are going to have a strong year, it's so important to capture that customer data, to have that data at your fingertips for next year. And we look at lots of different booking systems, property management systems, and we can see the number of entries where there are no contact details. An example of that is booking.com. So of course, booking.com anonymize the data that appears when the booking is made, and what many hoteliers will say is when the guest arrives, we then get that information and populate and add that information. And what I can say, having looked at lots of hotel databases, the owners might think that happens when we look at it, but data never gets filled in and the owners will say, "How can we get more direct bookings, or how can we stop people coming from or not stop them coming from booking.com?"

Claire:

But to get control and what I would say is, when you've got guests checking in through the OTAs, do stop, get their information and add it into your data. And if you are struggling with a way to capture your customer data, to be able to use it in an agile way certainly do speak to us. The other area as well that I thought was useful to allude to that's the growth in dynamic pricing. So a lot of properties have traditional pricing models where it sets pricing per season and what we've seen through lockdown, greater use technology and many properties moving to dynamic automated pricing, which is about being able to automate according to availability, time of year demand, booking pace. So there's been quite a shift in those properties moving to more use of technology. Up to you, Pete.

Pete:

Thanks very much. We'd love to talk more about social media not just being scroll material, and how to be really engaging on it. And it's a big more technical areas as well. Google core update, for it says, Google Analytics is going over most people's heads, it doesn't mind, or for Ian and Mark or whatever there's going to be a big update. It has been pushed back to June this year. It's going to read the spin-out page experience update called core web vitals. And this means that Google's ranking signals are looking for better page speed, faster websites, we'll see better rankings.

Pete:

So it's really important to optimize your website's performance for this now. It's part of SEO support getting to the top of the rankings in Google. And this sort of work with SEO is what I call, a zero-sum game. If you're not on it and if you've slipped down the rank a little bit, it means your competitors are going above you. So doing nothing isn't really an option. You're going to need a really fast website far more than normal. And there's that one is, a new version of Google Analytics has come out. 

Claire:

I just wanted to add to, Pete, I mean, we've known through everything we look at and everything that we track, if you've got an old website built on old technology, when we're saying old, old is kind of three years but sites will last longer, but as they age, they get slower, they get bloated, images are bigger they slow down. We already see that, and we already see the impact of an older booking at an older website over time. With the Google core update is really going to be magnified. So that's something to look out for. And one of the things, Pete, that I thought would be important to share with the attendees is, the ability to be able to look at a speed of your website. How do you know if what you've got is not performing as well, and I believe we can share a link.

Pete:

Yeah, I think I can share it now with them after the call but again, there's a Google tool called Google speed page insights, and you put your URL in and it'll tell you how fast you are on a mobile, and on a desktop, because they're both separate search engines, really. And if you're not in the green, then you certainly need to do something about it. And if you're not high in the green, then there's still stuff you can do about it. So it'll give you a level of stairs as to where you are and how Google sees your speed at the moment.

Pete:

And then I was just going to say, Google Analytics is a new version of that it came at the end of last yeah, Google Analytics 4. So they have said that at some point in the future the current Google Analytics will be turned off, which is going to be pretty, pretty shocking if you haven't set up Google Analytics 4. I mean, it depends on how they do it and it might not be for years but I would, as we have done for all of our clients, set them up on Google Analytics 4 as soon as you can think of starting capturing the data. So when it is turned off at least you have some historic data to compare it to. So far, I haven't seen any of the booking engines being able to be tracked on Google Analytics 4 yet so there's still work to be done, but they're going to release many more features as time goes on GA 4.

Pete:

As I said, online ads are cheaper already, but Mark and Ian provided me with just a whole lot of keywords that really popped through at the moment, and just kind of lots of spa and wellness terms like; spa breaks, spa treatments, spa days, and then outdoor dining, al fresco dining, hotel dining, staycations, vacation 2021, holiday cottages by the sea, self-catering accommodation, short-break hotels, luxury hotel, weekend break, something is always a massive list of these types of terms, but if you're bidding on those on pay-per-click, that's a sensible thing. And then we gift voucher boom as well, which was something that was... We have a gift voucher shop and Tina's on the call who still heads the department.

Pete:

But we were just chatting yesterday and it's not particularly a big time normally for gift vouchers right at the moment. But we're typically, it's not normally a big time, we sort of have vouchers sales in double at the moment, they're really quite significantly larger and less monetary, which is normally what people buy and much more experiences. People are just buying loads of experiences, because they want something to look forward to and a tangible thing to look forward to. And there's more confidence that, thankfully, most hotels aren't shutting and they're going to be there and there'll be able to redeem those lovely experiences in the coming months, something to look forward to. I don't know if Tina wanted to add anything, I'm putting you on the spot, hope you know.

Tina:

No, thanks, Pete. I think you've covered it within... It took a while to unmute that. No, I think you've covered it with the leap in experiences, and I think Nikki has just, on the chat, said that she's also experiencing a boom in voucher sales, which is really, really good to hear. So if you haven't got a good effective platform then ping me a message afterwards and I can share some details with you. But yeah, vouchers has been a steady kind of underpinning revenue stream throughout Covid, because when people couldn't sell online for other things, or couldn't take bookings, then vouchers were still there. And you've always got the option to extend them if you need to.

Pete:

Thank you very much. And the final one on the list, and this is going to be the most jargony thing of the day, I think, but increasing direct bookings through metasearch. So, I mean, I'll try and explain it quickly without being too jargony. So there's three metasearch engines in the UK; Google Hotels, TripAdvisor, Trivago, and they aggregate the OTAs. So if you go to Google and type in, Devin hotel you'll get a specific hotel, and it's a beautiful thing there in Como. You'll get on the right-hand side a bit about the property and then lots of links to various different OTAs.

Pete:

And it is getting much easier now to get your property book direct link into that. It's a type of paid ad, but it is something that many, many are looking at because it's hopefully going to reduce the commission rate. So there's still a cost to it, but not as much as taking a booking through booking.com. So that's the end of that jargon then. But if you want to know more about that, let me know. I think we're going to move on now and see if anyone has got any other questions or comments.

Clara:

Yeah. We have got a bit of discussion going on about cancellation policies. Is it the time for us to not be carrying all the burden of cancellations, I guess, especially for small properties, it's a bit of a risk, isn't it, so Lynn Martin was just asking, or any others going back to pre-Covid cancellation terms? And Lorraine Robinson just saying that they've changed thus to say that, cancellation has to be effected by government travel ban in order for them to reschedule, or refund as opposed to people potentially using Covid as a get out.

Pete:

Yes. And I suppose you can... The wedding industry promotes people getting insurance kind of shifts a little bit that way.

Clara:

Yeah sort of middle ground. And then Robin Barker was just saying that, he agrees not to include too much reference to Covid but obviously, we still need to share enhanced cleaning regimes, et cetera. So I think what you're saying Pete is still have that on the website just not quite so in in your face.

Pete:

Yes. So I was totally going to say that and forgot. I mean, the schemes like, the Quality in Tourism one, Safe, Clean, & Legal, and there's these many others that you still need to comply, and put that logo on. I understand that you need much more than the logo and somewhere that people can read it because they really need it.