Getting to the Heart of Marketing in Times of Crisis
By Christian Gonzalez Regional Director of Sales & Marketing, Rosewood Hotels Mexico Region | June 07, 2020
The swift and shattering impact of coronavirus on our industry has been a tremendous blow, reaching us in every country. Being ordered to stay at home is necessary and difficult, leaving those of us in travel and tourism to face the question: how do we navigate these challenging times? There are immediate concerns about health and safety, occupancy and operations, that must be addressed right away.
But, there are also lingering questions about the great unknown. How long will this last? How can sales and marketing be relevant and sensitive to how we are living during this crisis? How do we stay connected when we are socially distant? What is the right way to communicate now?
For us at Rosewood Mayakoba, having an emotional connection with our community, whether it be guests, associates or our local community at large is part of our DNA It's why guests return year over year and employees have been a part of our family for decades. That loyalty and longevity is what we must protect even when we cannot physically be together.
To bridge the physical distance between us and to bring a bit of light hearted entertainment and distraction from the isolation of quarantine we turn to social media as an essential tool that allows us bring a little bit of life in Mexico from our home in Rosewood Mayakoba to our guests, wherever they may be. We've started "Closer, Whatever the Distance," a series of videos showcasing different members of our team sharing their respective areas of expertise so that you can learn how to make delicious, healthy food from our Chef Juan Pablo Loza or how essential oils can help you sleep better. By offering authentic and heartfelt communications, we are able to maintain an emotional connectivity despite the distance.
Fostering that connectivity is what Travis Montaque writes about in his AdWeek article, noting that 70% of users who feel a connection to a brand spend twice as much as those who don't. He shares that, according to Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman, 95% of our purchasing decisions take place in the subconscious mind, which is overseen by our emotions.
As hospitality professionals, we know well that guests who share how thoughtful service made them feel or that a personalized touch was the most memorable part of their stay are also the guests most likely to return or tell their friends to come. By using social media as a platform for emotional connection we tap into an incredible way to stay close to our guests, even amidst social distancing.
Cut Through The Noise
It's no secret that we turn to our phones constantly in today's digital life. In fact, a recent study found that Americans now check their phones 96 times a day – that's once every 10 minutes. It isn't enough just to post content and hope it sticks. To make a true emotional connection with people, we must be invested in storytelling. To cut through the clutter and noise of headlines and pop up alerts vying for our attention, particularly in these times of crisis with breaking news constantly bombarding us, we stand out by sharing stories that strike an emotional chord.
In an article about "How Emotional Storytelling Can Transform Your Hotel, " it shared that according to Google, in over a 60-day booking window, the average person encounters over 38,983 digital micro-moments and interactions. To make the most of these micro-moments, we must be authentic. For us at Rosewood Mayakoba, that means sharing a sense of place rooted here in Mexico. For instance, our stories speak to the Mayan traditions that inform our approach to wellness or having our resident biologist Raquel Guzman talk about the flora and fauna found in the lagoons that surround our property. Specific, heartfelt stories are what grab people's limited attention and elicit engagement.
"Need To Know" Base
What makes this crisis truly unprecedented is that it is impacting all of us. And, it isn't easy. It has upended our daily lives and our work lives. But, in all this uncertainty and chaos comes an opportunity for creativity. As Anita Brearton shares in her piece about Marketing in a Time of Crisis, "agility and flexibility are not enough. You must add creativity and innovation to the mix." Tapping into that creativity starts with asking basic questions of this new way of living. What do people staying at home need and want to see and hear about? What information benefits them? What can we offer that is unique, timely and helpful?
Establishing this new baseline of "need to know" information is a great starting point for brainstorming what you as a hotel executive have to offer. That line of questioning is what led us to identify how we could help people looking for ways to de-stress, to make a nice meal for their family, to deal with rambunctious kids. It doesn't sound all that different from what we do for our guests when they are on property? Realizing that you have valuable information, resources and creative ideas for your guests is a silver lining in these times of crisis.
New Kind of Get Together
Being grounding in what information is relevant and meaningful for communications, you can now get creative in how to share or broadcast it to your audience. There are a wealth of digital tools and social media options for live streaming, virtual gatherings and online learning. From now ubiquitous Zoom meetings to taking online yoga in the morning, our personal and professional lives have migrated online. Getting comfortable with all these options, quickly, is no small task. Taking a moment to take advantage of free webinars and tutorials like Zoom's Live Training Webinars is extremely helpful and empowering so that you can think creatively about how to use these tools for your hotel's benefit.
This new wave of virtual gatherings has in just a short time taken off and become wildly popular as a way to connect people in a time of isolation. You now see, for example, bars hosting their usual trivia nights online so that regular guests (and new ones) can still meet up and bond, maybe even win a prize. The emergence of virtual happy hour has become widespread. From The New York Times publishing a go-to guide for How to Have a Successful Virtual Happy Hour to the rise of the "quarantini " reported on by the Associated Press, there are myriad ways that people are finding ways to toast and raise a glass despite the distance and connect with friends and loved ones. Whether that means hosting a happy hour online or just providing inspiration for what to drink or how to host the party at home, there are many ways marketers can be a part of this growing movement of ways to get together while we stay apart.
Getting creative while is business is as unusual as it is right now is essential for the short term, but we cannot also lose sight of the long term: why we love travel. Preparing for when guests can return and seeding now the reasons we travel in the first place is exactly what many national travel media magazines are doing by shifting their coverage as Conde Nast Traveler has done by introducing its Ultimate Guide to Armchair Travel and AFAR magazine publishing pieces like "Save Me From Myself! A Travel Lover's Guide to Staying Sane When You're Stuck at Home. " With our videos filmed at Rosewood Mayakoba, our goal beyond sharing a helpful tip or fun diversion is remind guests that we are looking forward to seeing them again, soon.
That is why as marketers during these uncertain times, it is key to maintain an emotional connection, convey meaningful and authentic information, and utilize the many virtual tools available to us in this digital age. These simple steps can keep us grounded, focused, nimble and hopeful about the future of travel. As Travel + Leisure magazine's editor in chief Jacqui Gifford shared in her May issue letter, "For now, travel is about armchair escapism. It is and always will be about emotion and heart."
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