The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Driving Demand

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

You cannot force customers to come back until they feel it’s safe. That was one of the biggest takeaways from HSMAI’s virtual Chief Loyalty Officer Executive Roundtable on Feb. 11. The hospitality loyalty professionals in attendance had a robust discussion, with conversation focused for the most part on driving demand, which participants agreed is not really possible right now — and could actually backfire. Here are key insights that participants shared during the discussion.


“You can’t really drum up demand, so we are just trading customers back and forth between each other and trying to get the share,” one participant said. “And is it even responsible to try to drum up demand? It can actually backfire depending on how aggressive you go with it, because it is somewhat self-serving to say, ‘Hey, we want you to travel,’ and if it’s not necessarily safe at that time, it could be a harmful social message.”


“The customer is going to rely on much bigger sources of information than us when they make decisions, and they could view what we’re doing as even self-serving,” one participant said. “Of course, they want to come stay, but there are much bigger forces at play and bigger authorities on travel and health and safety that they’re listening to. When they view it as safe and the time being right, it’ll be because they’ve been informed by forces much larger than us.”


“We did an initiative a few weeks ago and afterward we wanted to get some feedback on it from our [loyalty club] members,” one participant said. “So, we surveyed them and there was much more COVID commentary in there than I had expected. There are a few comments that were almost like, ‘Absolutely not. I can’t believe that you sent this to me right now. I can’t go anywhere.’ So, it’s a much different sentiment than I had seen in some earlier efforts.”


“I think for us, as we’re putting forward measurement for this year, there’s a lot of disbelief around some of the things that may look worse this year than last year,” one participant said. “And I think people are forgetting that for the first three months of last year, it was the best year ever. Everyone’s thinking, ‘2020 was the worst year ever.’ Well, for most of it, but not for all of it. You had a few months of amazingness and then the rest was terrible. We are sliding down from the terrible side, and so we’re not going to hit that mark. It could be worse than last year.”

Categories: Marketing
Insight Type: Articles