How to communicate and connect with customers during lockdown

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As Marriott CEO, Arne Sorenson, says: behaving and communicating in a manner that is genuine, “inspires loyalty.”

With new European countries rejoining the lockdown club again daily, it will be continually necessary for brands across all sectors, including hospitality, to find ways of open mindedly connecting and positively communicating with their customers. Why? Well, although people may not be able to physically arrive, stay and enjoy your hotel, they haven’t stopped browsing, dreaming, buying, planning and looking. By continuing to communicate with them now in the short term, it will create a positive ripple effect and benefit you in the long term, too. It may be the difference between you being a hotel customers remember, instead of one they don’t.

“Through effective messaging and communication, brands can increase their role in consumers’ lives and maintain a positive relationship beyond the short-term.”

Think about where your customers are right now – emotionally, financially, physically. It will be important for you to consistently review your communication methods and content to ensure an empathetic tone shines through. There’s no point in communicating to tick a box if your messaging is tone deaf to the reality of the world.

It may be tempting to turn off your marketing spend, too – perhaps it feels intuitive in the current climate. However if you think a little harder on this, it’s not actually the right choice for the same points listed above.

Let’s kick off with effective ways you can communicate and connect with customers during lockdown.

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Getting the best out of social media

Leveraging your social media platforms is one of the easiest ways to stay connected with customers. Give your social content a human touch – level with people. It’s a great way to share status updates in regards to whether you are open or not, but it can also be used for so much more!

Be positive without being unrealistic or out of touch!

Consider different types of content for social. Remember to thread an empathetic tone throughout all messaging, and remember you’re speaking to humans! Not laptops or mobiles.

Feel-good, do-good content 

If you’ve kept your hotel open for essential workers, let people know. This is useful for essential workers but also shows you care, and tells other customers something about the kind of hotel you are.

Has your hotel done anything else within the community to foster good will or to help specific groups of people? Maybe you have made food deliveries or donations. Maybe you have offered free coffee to front line workers. Whatever that good deed is – share it. Consider what other good deeds you can do over the next few months. Not just to share on social media, but remember, all of these actions count towards how people feel about you in the long run.

If your business has adapted to the crisis in any way, primarily by offering takeaway food and drink, make sure you’re letting social media followers know regularly of what you have available and the hours you’re operating. Discounts for frontline workers? Include this message!

Get staff involved if you can when you’re thinking innovatively about content. For example, if you want to create some different types of blogs, think about getting your head chef involved and plan a series on easy, healthy meals or hearty dinners to see people through the cold weather. Perhaps you could chat to someone who works in your fitness centre and create a content series around handy workout plans or short fitness tips.

On the topic of fitness, think about what content you can provide around ‘wellness’. This is a predicted trend in 2021 so consider this while you’re brainstorming your social content. Maybe you have a staff member who’s very in the know about mindfulness, meditation or yoga. Maybe someone’s into walking and would like to write a piece on it. The wellness world is your oyster – do a bit of research and see what suits.

If you’re partnering with local businesses in any way, is there any content you can partner up on? Whether it’s article or video-based, put your heads together and see what would be useful or interesting. Are there any fun competitions or challenges you could design together that would incite some excitement?

This is a good time to share reviews, too. It’s said that 51% of people trust their friend or partner’s recommendation more than any other advertising. Use this time to continue building trust with your customers.

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Updating your website content

Now is a good time to review your website content and update it all accordingly taking many newer considerations into account. Think about your tone throughout (we’ll say it again… empathy!), revisit all of your content and ensure that nothing is out of date, irrelevant for the times we are living in or even insensitive to the current situation. Make sure the information on your closure and reopening is easily visible.

Pay special attention to your hygiene policies. Create (or update) a Covid-specific page of content where customers can find everything they’re looking for in regards to safety and reassurance. Take your time reviewing and updating your existing content on dining options, spa facilities and wedding-related content for the year ahead. Speaking of, now is a good time to promote your hotel as a wedding venue, remembering that customers will likely go with hotels who are adhering to strict hygiene policies.

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Email marketing

Remember that 99% of us check our email everyday.

Email is the ideal channel to engage with loyal customers by updating them on your services, offers, opening hours and also any post-Covid discounts you might want to let them know of now. Remember to download your leads from your Facebook Lead Generation campaign and add to your database so these people will be included on your emails.

Update your Google My Business account

It’s an important time to make sure you have the most up to date information on your Google My Business Profile. In the Republic of Ireland, we are currently at Level 5 restrictions, so whether your hotel is open or temporarily closed, it’s crucial people can see this when they check.

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