Lodging managers and owners usually provide their own public relations in the middle of frenzy. Whether in good times when you are turning over 95% guest occupancy or in more challenging times of natural disasters or uncontrolled events, the Public Relations hat must be worn along with all of your other hats.
Sometimes it’s hard to see through it all. Turn to your marketing experts for another point of view, a second opinion or to brainstorm ideas.
At Blizzard we have the advantage of working with clients all over the world. We have helped our clients fight through a wide variety of situations; flooding, snowstorms, avalanches, tornadoes, hurricanes, and even the results of man-made events. Counteracting the situation with a flurry of online activity works.
Project Managers at Blizzard Internet Marketing meet regularly to brainstorm ideas for our clients and share SEM insights. Recently we have discussed how to help clients dealing with the situation on the Gulf Coast, and the responses to our proactive recommendations that have already been beneficial.
We have proactively responded and partnered with our customers to be proactive. Here are just a few of the actions we have taken together with our clients during a crisis:
- Quickly placed information on the homepage to deter some phone calls allowing staff more time to address the crisis.
- Created a link to an interior page that is dedicated to regular updates. This keeps the guests updated, encourages return visits, and loyalty.
- People are visual; we encourage our clients to include photos and videos of the situation to show exactly what is going on.
- Make sure to update images frequently so visitors can see the progression; and include the date on the images for time line purposes.
- Write press releases about the situation in your region to educate the public. This also presents your business as an area expert.
- Send emails to your owners and business partners; they are your advocates, so give them the tools they need to spread the word.
- This is also an opportunity to tell owners how you are addressing the situation on their behalf.
- Send email blasts to your reserved guests to offer them options and communicate your policies. Again you are educating and creating loyalty.
- Oftentimes reality is much better than what the media states, send an email to your entire emailing list to show them the true picture of the situation.
- Show website visitors the other ways to vacation and enjoy your region. Talk about local events, attractions, activities, restaurants.
Proactive solutions to supplement your occupancy rates during a disaster:
- Respond to the sudden influx of employee housing needs and volunteers wanting short-term housing.
- Create pay per click ads to compliment your company’s message or special offers.
- Reach out to people who will relocate during the event.
- Reach out to people who will move their vacation to a nearby community. They just might be your repeat visitors of tomorrow.
Results we have seen so far during this situation:
- We have clients reporting instances where people have taken advantage of cancellation policies and moved their reservation to a different beach in the gulf.
- Placing the update message on the homepage and linking to the interior page slowed cancellation rates down.
- Informational email blasts are being opened at a rate of over 50%. That is unheard of for the majority of email marketing. Truly this has shown that clients have reached their audience.
- Cancellations came to a grinding halt when reserved guests had info on policies and options in their hands.
- Website tracker data shows visitors using the site for updates, returning regularly to monitor the situation at their favorite beach.
- RESERVATIONS CONTINUE TO COME IN! Yes, it is true. New reservations come in from loyal customers who know the region and from others who want to be supportive.
Recovering from the crisis:
Blizzard clients are looking to how to measure the financial impact of the situation in the gulf. We are helping them by analyzing website tracker data and creating historical reports to show that clients were pacing ahead in 2010 prior to the accident. This data along with their own data may help in creating claims for financial reimbursement. Fortunately, online marketing offers this type of data when traditional marketing options typically do not allow you us to see attribution for the reservations created.
Photo by smuzz