Coronavirus has changed everything
Hotel and hospitality marketing is not what it was but we are starting to see the green shoots of recovery following hospitality businesses reopening on 4th July. Through this extraordinary time, Clockwork continues to provide expert hospitality marketing consultancy, services and support. We’ve put together a selection of advice, blogs and creative marketing ideas we’ve written or like, helping support your business now and on the road to recovery. Check back for regular updates.
Helping you on the road to recovery with creative marketing
While we hoped for a pre-Covid bounce back in the hospitality sector, we’ve analysed data from holiday parks, hotels and cottage providers across the UK and the level of growth in bookings over a short period of time has been huge with most of our clients.
The caveat to this is the majority are coastal or country-located hospitality businesses. City centre hotels have been reporting only 20% occupancy in the trade media.
A V-Shaped Recovery
Since late March, Clockwork has helped its clients with re-opening plans, communicating with customers and helping deliver a Covid-19 bookings bounce back. Our hotel clients have seen an average of 200% website traffic increase in July compared to April with holiday parks seeing over 500% growth in traffic in the same period.
Clients have told us that July and August are now fully booked out and want to hold off Autumn promotions due to the current high demand for rooms.
The research also demonstrated that those clients that started marketing and working towards re-opening on 4th July before others, gained faster growth and filled rooms in a shorter period of time.
(Look out for our full Clockwork Bounce Back Report over the coming weeks.)
Despite this huge bounce back there are still more marketing opportunities to be taken as a result of the pandemic. Paid ads on Google and Metasearch have become cheaper. With less competition (due to budget cuts by large groups and OTAs), the cost per click has crashed, with many hospitality search terms currently half their normal price.
This means your ad budget can reach a much wider audience for less cost. And if you need more proof, one campaign we ran recently for a holiday park client netted over £115,000 with an ad spend of under £6,000, an ROI of 20:1.
If you want to get an ad campaign going, these can be set up quickly to target all the customers looking to get away for late summer or autumn breaks.
Gift Voucher Success
We have also seen gift vouchers as a great way for guest to “pay it forward”, especially during the Government’s six month VAT holiday for tourism businesses. Clockwork has made a change to our market-leading gift voucher shop, Gift Voucher Brilliance, for clients to be able to pass this saving on to clients if they wish; although several are keeping their prices the same and keeping the savings for their businesses.
Maximise your marketing opportunities during the six month VAT holiday…Get in touch now
Helping you on the road to recovery with creative marketing
Hotels, holiday parks and spas up and down the country are open, taking bookings and welcoming back guests. We’ve been told we all have to adjust to a “new normal” but the new procedures in place, the time and effort to get them up and running and the effect on all of us is very far from normal.
Hospitality businesses have promoted themselves throughout June and July and we’ve seen some nice examples of “welcome back” emails and social communications. But when marketing to potential guests, there’s a fine line to walk between reassurance about new Covid-19 Secure procedures, and ensuring an appealing experience is communicated. As one well known hotelier recently said: “no one wants to holiday in a hospital”.
This extends to marketing messages in emails and social communications but also videos and photography. People wanting to go on holiday want all the benefits of your location and facilities as they always have. Images of open space, fresh air and outdoor dining will all be more appealing than social distancing signage, staff in masks or cleaning chemicals.
A Covid-19 Secure web page and certification badge is necessary and worthwhile but keep in mind the statistics from a recent email we sent for a client where over 500 people clicked the stay offer, over 100 people clicked to see facilities open and only 8 clicked to view the Covid-19 Secure landing page.
While we said we would reduce the number of creative ideas shared we can’t help ourselves. This week we’d like to highlight the brave marketing at St Moritz Hotel. They have truly claimed social distanced dining with “The Anti-Social Club”, the UK’s first purpose-designed and built socially distanced summer restaurant, with a ‘bubble’ ethos offering an exclusive, private dining experience. Recognising that social distancing measures are anti-social, the hotel made this a selling point by positioning the new experience as exclusive. Very clever.
Do the Right Thing
Last week the team at Clockwork were lucky enough to enjoy a socially-distanced Wellness Wednesday at South Milton beach in Devon. The intense strains and stresses of working from home were washed away with cold water swimming, mindful macramé-making, dog-walking and outdoor barbecue dining. We also did our bit for the local wildlife, residents and tourists with an hour-long beach clean. Recognising the impact that tourism does have on our local environment, we hope to do lots more to help wildlife in our area as a new corporate member of Devon Wildlife Trust. Watch this space!
Helping you through coronavirus with brand awareness and creativity 02/07/20
With the big day of reopening for hotels this Saturday, we’ve definitely seen a big bounce back of pent up demand in properties’ Google Analytics data across the UK.
Looking across clients we can clearly see a big uplift in website traffic from the 1st week of April compared to the last week of June. Holiday parks and self-catering have had large gains with percentage growth of 205% and 141% respectively. Large hotels have had a 4% positive growth, whereas small and boutique hotels are also on the road to recovery.
The data reflects the increased confidence in the sector demonstrated in other data including the BVA BDRC Covid-19 Sentiment tracker. Average mood has nudged up to 6.7 out of 10, while there’s been a four point increase in “travel activists” and those that intend to take a staycation before the end of the summer holiday period. A six point rise with those who intend to holiday before the year end is also good news.
What are people searching?
But what are people searching to find the latest holiday deals now and how can hotels and hospitality providers key into what people want. Our SEO specialist, Mark has analysed some Google Trends data to help you tailor your marketing messages and offers.
Searches around “UK staycation”, “UK holiday” and “staycations” have all risen rapidly in recent weeks while people are also looking for fresh air getaways with search terms like “coastal hotels”, “coastal holidays” and “coastal cottages” also on the up. “Covid safe holidays”, “Covid safe hotels” and “Covid secure hotels” have proved popular amongst perhaps the more cautious traveller.
If you need help with your marketing at this time of reopening, Clockwork Marketing can assist you to key into travel search trends and stand out from the competition.
Do the right thing
Wellness Wednesday, 8th July 2020
Covid-19 has brought many challenges. We are lucky at Clockwork because all of us are well and our business is afloat, but the ‘new normal’ hasn’t been easy. The team have been working extremely hard to support our clients, and keep the creative ideas flowing.
As a well-deserved reward Clare, Clockwork’s owner, has asked us to take a team day off next Wednesday the 8th July. ‘Wellness Wednesday’ will be an opportunity to get away from our screens, relax, and check in with our teammates. We will keep it simple and wholesome, by meeting in groups of six for a socially-distanced beach clean and picnic. We may try some yoga and get on our paddleboards!
We’re looking forward to having a breather and doing a little good somewhere we love. We hope in the midst of this crisis you find time to do the same.
Helping you through coronavirus with brand awareness and creativity 25/06/20
We are delighted to write with some good news this week. We can report that hotels, cottages and holiday parks across the country are having record months of revenue growth in June, thanks to, in part, the Government’s definitive advice for reopening on 4th July*.
We’ve seen one holiday park, that started marketing at the beginning of June, take £230,000 so far this month in online bookings and a boutique hotel that also started marketing early take £36,000 online.
Those that have started marketing campaigns with flexible booking options and Covid-19 Secure guarantees are reaping the benefits. As more and more venues open on 4th July, competition will be fierce and businesses need to stand out with innovative and visually striking campaigns.
Ideas to consider now include:
- July/August Staycation reopening deals
- Longer stay packages – as people won’t be holidaying abroad as much
- Outdoor activity packages – surfing, biking, walking holidays
- Isolation themed holidays – for those country hotels with lots of space or self-catering cottages
- Mindfulness and wellbeing breaks – focused on healthy getaways
- Family get togethers – for those who have been apart from their loved ones
- Wedding promotions – now up to 30 guests can be allowed to attend a wedding
Clockwork can provide a range of marketing options tailored to your specific objectives. Check out our Road to Recovery marketing page for more details.
Additionally, ensuring your Covid-19 Secure protocols are easily accessed and available on your website will help boost guest confidence at this time, encouraging more people to book.
In all the announcements this week, the good news that the two metre distancing guidance has been reduced to one metre plus, will make a big difference for boutique and smaller venues, in terms of the capacity of guests they can now accommodate.
All venues will need to adhere to Covid-19 Secure health and safety cleaning protocols, reassuring staff and guests. For self-catering accommodation clear guidelines have been available from the Professional Association of Self Caterers and UK Hospitality has protocols available for its members that will be available to all soon here.
If hospitality businesses follow Government guidelines and complete necessary risk assessments, you can sign up to the Visit Britain “Good to Go”, the AA “Covid-Confident” and the Quality in Tourism certification schemes for added customer confidence, or confusion!
But spare a thought for those hotels or accommodation providers whose spas or swimming pools will remain closed after 4th July, who are grappling with how to provide safe treatments for guests going forward as well. We understand that the Government’s concern is around communal changing areas/showers and hope to have this rectified in min July.
Each week we have been updating the Creative Ideas page with design, campaigns and marketing we like or have provided for our clients. We will leave these ideas open and available on our website but going forward for future tailored creative marketing ideas, please contact us direct.
Do the Right Thing
While the coronavirus crisis has brought out the best in people, the one thing it has done has created more plastic waste in the form of PPE masks, gloves and gowns and in our sector, disposable menus and disposable cups, for example.
Coronavirus survives for longer on plastic than other materials. When we come to re-opening, it may be prudent as well as better for the environment to follow the example of Mandarin Hotel Group, that pushed on with its elimination of single-use plastics despite the pandemic.
For wider reading on the impact of the upturn in cheap single-use plastic click here.
*UK opening dates as follows: England – 4th July, Scotland – 15th July, Wales – 13th July, Northern Ireland – 3rd July
Helping you through coronavirus with brand awareness and creativity 10/06/20
At this moment in time, it feels like the whole country is in a state of limbo.
Some people continue to be very frightened about coronavirus and the threat of a second peak of infections, while others are meeting friends and family following the Government’s relaxation of lockdown advice.
Schools have small groups of children back, while other pupils remain at home and may not return until September. Construction continues apace, while the tourism industry watches day-trippers return to popular locations without hotels, restaurants or spas open for trade.
All the while, there are the biggest Civil Rights demonstrations in history happening right now. To say we are in strange times is an understatement.
Some certainty for self-catering
The good news is that there is some certainty for self-catering accommodation providers this week in the shape of an announcement from The Professional Association of Self-Caterers UK (PASC UK).
The organisation has just released approved cleaning guidelines for self-catering accommodation providers, meaning cottages and self-catering providers can plan to reopen with the peace of mind they will be adhering to correct protocols.
View the new Self-Catering COVID Cleaning Protocols here
Latest Spa thinking
The UK Spa Association will also announce this week the results of its survey into the sector, how spas have been affected by the lockdown across the country, their thoughts on reopening and prospective cleaning and PPC procedures. Clockwork has had sight of the survey with topline findings including:
- 87% of staff of those spas surveyed have been furloughed
- 54% said they would reopen as soon as restrictions are lifted
- 20% said there was a possibility their business would not reopen at all
Look out for details of the full survey announced on its website news section soon.
For hospitality businesses operating at this time, Father’s Day and promoting Gift Vouchers are a great idea, with the option for Dad’s to gain longer, more flexible, booking terms on any experience purchased. This and other ideas are available on our Creative Ideas hub updated each week.
Do the Right Thing
With many hotels and restaurants focused on providing the freshest, local and seasonal food (during normal service), chefs and proprietors may be interested in a UK National Food Standards petition launched recently by the National Farmers Union. Find out more details here.