Marketing never stops. Even when a crisis event like coronavirus seems to be consuming everyone’s attention, you still have to get your message out — but do so in a sensitive, thoughtful way. How? Brian Hall, chief marketing officer of Explore St. Louis and a member of the HSMAI Americas Board of Directors, recently offered some insights.
What are the immediate priorities for hospitality marketing professionals in this climate?
The most immediate priority for hospitality marketers in times of uncertainly is to communicate facts and do so routinely and liberally. As concerns have heightened over the past week, many organizations are issuing daily updates as travelers are seeking facts and perspective amidst swirling and sometimes sensational news accounts.
Second, it is important to refer to and cite leading authorities such as, in the case of CONVID-19, the CDC, WHO, and local public health agencies to allow your guests to make informed decisions. Lastly, marketers should never minimize the consequences associated with an event and always demonstrate empathy to those who have been impacted.
How does a company balance prioritizing its customers’ safety and protecting its brand?
Travel brands always put guest safety first, which ensures their reputations will be well-protected, earning the trust, respect, and loyalty of their customers. Those brands who put other motives ahead of the safety and security of their guests do so at their peril.
Should marketers already be thinking about their post-coronavirus planning?
For those destinations and industries directly impacted with cases and possible outbreaks, post-CONVID-19 marketing planning and activity will be imperative to attract customers back. I recall in the aftermath of 9/11 that several hotel brands responded with marketing campaigns inviting travelers back to New York to show their support for the city and its tourism community. Once again, the tone and timing for these campaigns is paramount. As the virus will have resulted in substantial illness and loss of life around the world, marketers should avoid celebrating victory prematurely and communicate in a respectful, reflective fashion.
Sign up for HSMAI’s free webinar, Confronting Coronavirus: Crisis Communication and Marketing Expert Insights. For more resources, visit HSMAI’s Global Coronavirus Resources hub.