For almost 20 years it was my job to test and analyze technology and social media. These last few years I’ve laid off evaluating innovation, trends, and startups. So many others are in the field. But the coronavirus pandemic has reshaped every industry now. As a travel editor and writer, as the hospitality industry faces its biggest challenge ever, I feel compelled to wade back in. So, here goes.
A social sharing campaign, COVID-19 and Hotels by the CRM and mail marketing experts at Revinate, caught my attention this afternoon. The lead-in for this campaign on Facebook reads:
“Today, we’re bringing the hospitality industry the first Coronavirus Resource Center for hoteliers. Given the rate of change across the industry, we’ve assigned a team of writers and researchers to create and curate the latest strategies, news and more to help hoteliers combat the challenges of COVID-19.”
First, let me get something out of the way. No one should condemn or praise a company that is attempting to brand or promote business during this pandemic. To stay afloat, every tourism and hospitality business needs to stay connected to constituents. A problem only arises when really bad public relations and marketing tactics are applied, or when the value provided by a service or supplier overreach boundaries. That said, Revinate has created ads to convert people to consume the company’s mailing list, first and foremost. Clicking on their Facebook ad served up to me, a custom coronavirus banner has been created on the company’s website, explicitly for this purpose.
Okay, so Revinate is loaded down with digital marketing gurus and no public relations experts to counterbalance the hard sell. I get it. Let’s move on.
The big value proposition Revinate has plopped on their COVID-19 landing is a video of an interview by the company’s sales manager, Nick Farris with Ariela Kiradjian, who’s co-founder of The Boutique Lifestyle Leaders Association. I don’t want to go off into a separate analysis of this outfit. Looking at the social profiles and media mentions, let’s just say an Alexa rating of 1.81 million, means nobody but the owners of the site ever visit. Revinate’s meeting of minds in this video can be summarized by a statement from Kiradjian; “Number one thing, please don’t stop marketing…”
Some Good News
I won’t bore you with the rest of this video that restates the painfully obvious. A quote from CEO Marc Heyneker continues from underneath a series of blog links, with a place holder content distribution gibberish:
“Investing in your own ability to drive profitable revenues, with speed and focus, is now more important than ever.”
The good news is, down at the company blog level Revinate does have some useful tips for hoteliers in order to cope with things like retaining laid-off employee engagement. This content is thin though, and the linkages to Hospitality Net and other industry news articles, while useful, is probably only valuable to a few dozen readers. Revinate’s company site gets almost no traffic.
Another bright spot, in an otherwise dismal attempt to provide valuable advice and strategies, comes in the form of a personal outreach by Revinate’s VP Customer Success, Rani Croshal. Another segment I like, is the “COVID Campaigns” Revinate shares from clients’ newsletters. Continued email outreaches are vital CRM elements, which is what the company excels at.
However, Revinate’s COVID-19 effort comes up short on so many front’s, I actually cringe at having to tell you about it. Additionally, many of the video segments Revinate has created with industry experts are quite good. This one translates to credible and helpful info out of Cara Federici, CEO of Madison Melle Agency.
In fairness, Revinate’s videos are being recorded and broadcast from home offices, so we cannot expect stunning graphs or cinematics, etc. Again, with a few exceptions, most of the content being put forward by Revinate is rehashing old news, common knowledge, and it ends up hurting their brand more than helping. One expert is telling viewers that lockdown curtails mobility, which in turn hurts hotel occupancy.
The Power of Negativity (Reality)
Finally, this “analysis” goes on to let veteran hotel sales and marketing teams know, American’s are not going to be arriving soon. There’s one segment from the so-called Hospitality Industry Club entitled Virus vs. Hotel, which I find to be quite sad. I won’t denigrate these nice people, but it’s clear none of them have any insight into what is about to happen. Sorry, I am tried of fluff.
Yes, the guest mix is going to change. Yes, companies and individuals will use digital avenues more and more. No, Revinate has no clue what is going on or what is about to take place. Like every other travel and hospitality entity out there, COVID-19 has set them adrift in the same clueless sea as the rest of us. Come on people, Booking.com is taking a $4 billion dollar loan and is about to engage in massive layoffs.
Venturebeat reports that Travel and Transportation companies are seeing the biggest percentage of layoffs of any segment. Airports are on the brink of failure, along with airlines and the industries associated with them. This PhocusWire report warns of corporate debt addiction which threatens the very existence of the industry. And somehow, these marketing firms seem to focus on what worked yesterday.
In fairness to Revinate, this is a very good company that offers a valuable service to their customers. They are not alone in trying to find their way in the fog of uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic. Just “Google” terms like hotel marketing and add “coronavirus” – you’ll get a flock of ads from agencies about to go under if their hotel clients die. I have many friends in this industry. Some are even planning on diversifying their expertise in case hotels do not come back AT ALL. Most think 2020 is a complete wash. So, I sympathize with the experts at Revinate.
So, here is my evaluation. Revinate should never have announced a “first Coronavirus Resource Center for hoteliers.” Without leading edge value, a campaign like this can only damage the brand. And I am very sorry to have to be the harbinger of negative brand mention. But, the company has resources, Revinate has super people, and the potential for good from them is great. This is why they get a 3 out of 10 for producing this marketing fluff.