There’s some advice out there that really bugs me. As a publisher, editor, writer, and as a researcher, the obtuseness with which many “experts” are approaching the pandemic situation is just messed up. If I may be blunt. Take this eHotelier piece, for instance. Using Sweden COVID booking advice? Wow.
“6 tactics we can learn from hotels in Sweden that remain open during COVID-19,” is a pretty good piece of bait for bored hotel owners looking for any port in the coronavirus storm of hospitality catastrophe. However, using the worst possible case to “help” hotels “lure” guests no matter what? The problem with this story is not that there’s no new marketing advice there. Even worse, the authors of this story neglect the patently obvious. The number one job of hoteliers is the safety of their guests – end of the story.
Let’s be real, maintaining ADR and other metrics via vouchers, cancellation guarantees, promoting local in this way or that, encouraging longer stays, developing community, and CRM are all things everybody else has said. The author even admits this. So why use COVID death central as a case study? Clickbait, that’s why.
To let the author off the hook just a bit, many times a writer will submit articles to company CMOs or CEOs and a revision will come back with something like, “Do we really need the human fluff in this?” Yes, believe it or not, I have emails from technology entrepreneurs I represented saying exactly this. Write off callousness, sometimes as least, to the corporate or techno-geek head. Some people just don’t get it.
Meanwhile, hotels planning to open in mid-season here in Greece fret over how to protect guests, and how to provide them with real “confidence” in their stay, not the monetary confidence that goes without saying. Many authors are using clickbait, and some end their meaningless regurgitations as this marketing content distribution ended:
“Now is the time to make sure you are ready to switch on carefully crafted, personalized marketing campaigns the very second you have confirmation of when your hotel doors will reopen or when you see the first green shoots of recovery in travel intent within your markets.”
This, to suck in those guests after you’ve assured them with nothing more than a “worry-free booking policy” and not one word on how you will protect them during their “targeted” staycation at your Stockholm hotel. Genius! Pure genius. And I guess I should mention (and link) Hospitality Net, and TopHotelNews since those channels were also used to spread this recovery fluff. What about PPM? Or, Post-Pandemic Marketing principles?
Amazingly, Forbes writer Anna Kang managed to profile a Swedish hotel that actually did seem to care about its guests. The Lidköping Stadshotellet ended up offering something the hotel never had never done before—serving restaurant diners in the rooms. How about that? Pop Up Restaurants or tweaked room service for guests who want to rest or work from a city hotel. Offer a staycation with a new practice to protect guests! And as a writer, former PR and marketer, and hotel promoter, it took me all of 10 seconds to include this winning strategy. Oh, the Forbes piece was posted the day before the paid post went up on the other outlets. So…
Well, the Sweden clickbait was put forth by The Hotels Network, a Best Hospitality Startup according to WIRED Magazine. A paid post spread about by the standard method. The problem, of course, being the content creator for the tech company (and probably the CMO) only has one thing on their minds. Sorry guys, I’ve advised bigger ones than you, and they did not like it either. You need a public relations firm, for real. Marketing post-pandemic is going to be like everything else, the so-called new normal.
Founders Juanjo Rodriguez and Marc Rollan Serrano need to use a tiny portion of their $3.9 million Series A funding to hire somebody who is NOT a marketer to add in a human touch. (No, not me) Just my honest opinion, but you can’t operate like marketers the way you used to. People are dying. Get it? Even HSMAI understands real safety must go into everybody’s thinking cap now. Some, are just not paying attention.
Sweden. Let’s see. The headlines go something like this. “Sweden overtakes UK with highest coronavirus death rate per capita – did they get it wrong?” (Express); “Sweden’s death toll unnerves its Nordic neighbours” (Financial Times); “Sweden recorded the most coronavirus deaths in Europe per capita over the past week, according to Oxford data” (Business Insider); “The ‘Swedish Model’ Is a Failure, Not a Panacea” (World Politics Review); “Sweden becomes country with highest coronavirus death rate per capita” (The Telegraph)… You get the point.
What really gripes me is how lazy marketers are. Look. The day before a paid post goes up leaving off any safety mention, eHotelier reported a couple of days after the about accreditation and the HBAA. You know, positive things that could easily be included in anybody’s story. I also fault my colleagues in publishing for being concerned mostly with advertising fees and being “conditioned” to think less about messages in an unprecedented time.