The hospitality industry felt the pinch of COVID-19. But in 2023, we’re starting to see a comeback and business is looking up for our clients and partners in the travel and hospitality industries. The past few years have changed us as humans and impacted how we travel. Understanding these shifts gives hospitality businesses an opportunity to adjust how they connect with their current and potential customers.
Let’s look at some of the most recent data and research from Skift’s State of Travel 2022 report and discuss how your business can update your brand positioning to align your marketing and messaging strategies with the emerging traveler preferences and industry trends.
Inflation is impacting travel
We’ve all felt the sting of inflation recently. Recreational travel may be challenging as people battle rising costs for necessities such as groceries and gas. Data suggests that global inflation has hit its peak, but consumers will feel the impact for at least a few years to come.
According to Skift’s research, “few are outright canceling trips, but many are downgrading spending to cheaper alternatives.” The travel report showed that travelers are cutting costs by spending less on food and activities, utilizing alternative transportation options, and looking for deals and cost-effective destinations.
As you look to connect with these budget-savvy travelers in 2023, here are a few marketing strategies to implement:
Adjust your geographic targeting
Adjust the target geographic area in your advertising campaigns, focusing more on travelers within driving distance. As you adjust your geographic targeting, consider your messaging as well. Focus on drivable vacation searches, quick getaways, last-minute trips, staycations, and other key phrases indicative of the drive market. Align your marketing messaging with the concept of getting away without the cost of airline flights.
Highlight cost-saving amenities/opportunities
As customers look to save money on food and activities, highlight your amenities that budget-savvy travelers can utilize and consider adding value-added packages.
If your rooms have kitchenettes or the ability to store food, let your potential guests know they can bring their own food. Complimentary breakfast buffets, discount on-site dining cards, and discounts/freebies at local restaurants will also grab their attention if they want to save money on dining out. Low or no-cost activities — such as free access to the hotel pool or fitness center, walking tours, group activities, free transportation, free parking, and games — should also be front and center in your marketing efforts.
A blog highlighting how much fun they could have on-site and in the area without spending anything extra could help put you on the visitors consideration list.
Run sales and promos
During slow periods, discount codes, sales, contests, and giveaways can appeal to travelers feeling the pinch of inflation. Maybe they’ve been dreaming of warm California beaches, and a flash sale is just what they needed to make it work in their budget.
Planning these strategic discounts throughout the year can help boost bookings, increase exposure, and increase revenue when things are slow. And remember, once you have them as a past guest, it is much easier to reach them with additional offers.
Embrace Work from Anywhere
We’ve seen a considerable upswing in remote working. The idea of “work from anywhere” is becoming more of the norm. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people primarily working from home tripled between 2019 and 2021. And now that travel is back, people are looking to take advantage of their work freedom.
As such, hotels, short-term rentals, and hospitality businesses have an opportunity to connect with the 27+ million people with remote work flexibility. According to the Skift data, “bleisure” (blended business and leisure trips) is the new normal. Many of these blended travelers extend their trip by 3-6 days and bring their families. Capture these bleisure travelers by adjusting your marketing campaigns to focus on both work and play.
Highlight your business amenities
On-site business amenities can be a big draw. Monitors, printers, and fast and reliable internet access are essential to remote work and are not always accessible or easy to pack along on trips. Keep these amenities front and center across your marketing channels to attract business-focused travelers. Consider and stay, play and work package that includes business amenities along with amenities for family.
Partner with other businesses
On-site or nearby coffee shops, cafes, and coworking facilities are also excellent selling points worth promoting to potential bleisure visitors across your marketing efforts. Hospitality businesses might consider collaboration or partnership opportunities to connect with digital nomads and WFA travelers better.
For example, a hotel and coworking facility might team up to offer a complimentary shuttle service. Or a coffee shop may provide a discount for guests at a nearby partnering hotel.
Plan after-hours activities
People often bring their family along on these extended bleisure trips or want to explore/relax outside work hours. By highlighting nearby and on-site attractions in your marketing efforts, you can showcase your venue as a well-rounded WFA experience.
Things like on-site spas or scheduled fitness/meditation classes can be a huge draw for those dealing with work burnout. Scheduled Happy Hours or other activities can also be a great way for colleagues who have never met in person to connect or for solo remote work travelers to meet like-minded folks.
Boost your hospitality marketing 2023
If you’re a hospitality business looking for some brand positioning and marketing expertise as you tackle marketing projects in 2023, we can help. The creatives at DAE are staying up on all the latest 2023 travel trends and would love to help you connect with travelers in a meaningful way. Let’s chat.