The COVID-19 pandemic has led independent hoteliers to rethink their marketing budgets for the remainder of 2020 as well as more frequent budget changes for some.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—The COVID-19 pandemic was an unprecedented event for the entire hotel industry, and for boutique hoteliers, it’s led to shifts in marketing budgets for the remainder of 2020.
Michael Cady, VP of marketing for Charlestowne Hotels, said via email that his company is reforecasting expenses and its top line on a biweekly basis, and will focus “on marketing-related expenses we can track that offer at least an 8:1 ratio of return on ad spend” for the rest of the year.
“If it makes the 8:1 ratio, we’ll move forward with it; if it doesn’t, we usually won’t move forward,” he said.
Cady added that Charlestowne is also focusing on initiatives that don’t come with a cost, such as “updating how our hotels look in the digital space.”
“This includes updating our digital listing optimization, photos on review websites, and adding UI/UX enhancements to our websites, to improve their functionality and usability,” he said.
Cady added that his company is also focused on how it communicates hotel cleaning policies with guests, the development of targeted and segmented emails and investing in paid social media campaigns.
The Dubbel Dutch in downtown Milwaukee just opened this summer, and while opening during a pandemic was a challenge, Anne Koller, who runs the hotel’s partnerships and events and is one of two house managers, said it was also an opportunity to “be innovative in the hospitality industry and focus on ways to create safe and unique experiences for guests.”
“Our focus is on staycations, birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions for guests to treat themselves and stay in our historic boutique hotel, and our marketing priorities reflect this,” she said.
Dubbel Dutch has not had to change its marketing priorities much in the time it has been open, Koller said.
“Our focus has always been on cultivating relationships and partnerships,” she said. “We work with nearby apartment buildings, companies and groups who are interested in having a one-of-a-kind experience in Milwaukee in a historic double-sided house turned hotel with 17 rooms that celebrates local products, businesses and artists. Our marketing budget is primarily focused on encouraging our first guests—whether they be neighbors, business travelers, families needing a staycation, mothers needing some R&R—to stay safely in our hotel.”
Lark Hotels closed its properties in April and May and reduced marketing spend as there was very little revenue coming in, CEO Peter Twachtman said via email.
From June onward, he said Lark “held strong on our spend as we knew it was imperative to reach potential travelers with the goal of maximizing the remainder of the year and season.”
“We certainly made adjustments on where we allocated resources, (which was) more towards regional digital ad spend and adjusted our focus to emphasize drive-market escapes,” Twachtman said.
For the rest of the year, he said his company is focused on “maximizing roomnights for the remainder of 2020—short-term pick-up, as well as driving interest and conversion in micro-weddings and our extended-stay initiative, wide-open spaces.”
“We want to keep Lark top of mind through social media and email marketing for all of our travelers as they contemplate long or short stays through the end of the year,” he said.
- Click here to read about Lark’s newly formed third-party management arm for independent hotels.