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article imageQ&A: B2B holiday marketing during the pandemic Special

By Tim Sandle     Sep 6, 2020 in Business
The COVID-19 crisis has led to dramatic economic shifts and forced businesses to evolve with changing customer behaviors. This means businesses need to pivot their B2B holiday marketing strategies.
What does such a strategy look like? Options include monitoring sales data and website analytics; bringing the showroom online for a virtual market and creating gift-giving guides and curated collections to reflect the new normal.
To learn more, Digital Journal spoke with Bill Donlan, Executive Vice President and DCX Leader of Capgemini, who works with many clients in the travel industry.
Digital Journal: How challenging is COVID-19 proving for the travel industry sector?
Bill Donlan: Extremely challenging. Unfortunately, several businesses in this sector have literally had zero revenue for an extended period of time as a result of the pandemic. Overall, we’re seeing that this sector has been impacted more than others for obvious reasons. The other challenge lies in the changes required by people, processes, and technology in order to comply with regulations and to restore some level of customer confidence in traveling again. Some changes that are being made and can have a positive impact include: new training and educating for staff, PPE for all staff, introducing new deep-cleaning processes, implementing enhanced ventilation and filtration, and use of ultra-violet light. In addition, systems will need to change in order to support 1:1 marketing offers, touchless processes, enhanced data mining, etc.
DJ: How has the sector readjusted?
Donlan: In the short term, there has been an emphasis on cash preservation, new investments in branding and marketing guest safety, a renewed focus on loyal customers, automation efficiencies, touchless processes, frictionless processes, and implementing new data monitoring. Going forward, there should be a focus on long term needs that the pandemic has only highlighted rather than solely on the pandemic itself. Systems will need readjusting, specifically marketing systems, communications, data mining/analysis, and the ability to execute key processes without face-to-face interactions. Some hotel and resort properties were already on this path with bands, medallions, smart phone apps for check-in, check out, keyless entry, etc. In fact, a large hotel company has already proven to be able to provide personalized 1:1 service through a mobile app to limit contact while still providing an engaging customer experience.
DJ: What types of holidays will prove most popular?
Donlan:In the near term, vacationers will look for options that don’t require air travel and where the location and/or destination also allows visitors to easily comply with the six-feet-apart stipulation. Outdoor activities will be popular because maintaining distance is relatively “easy” in that circumstance. There are a handful of specific geographies and states where some vacation spots will return to “normal” a bit faster, such as higher-end casino properties in states like Florida.
DJ: How can businesses best market their holidays?
Donlan:There are several different marketing approaches businesses can take to encourage vacationers to visit their properties for the holidays. We certainly are seeing destinations frequently communicate what they are doing to keep their employees and guests safe. We are also seeing fees being waived for last-minute changes and cancellations. Marketing efforts will encourage “work from our property” and enjoy the available amenities. We are also seeing cross-marketing with on property spend, spa credits, etc. Holiday travel and crowds this upcoming season will prove difficult and the measure of success will be overall spend and occupancy, not what happens with Christmas and Thanksgiving in particular.
DJ: How can businesses work better with each other?
Donlan:There’s always an opportunity to improve. For example, hotel and transportation companies can work together to arrange safe transportation to a location – i.e. transport services. Hotel properties can also work more closely with preferred dining destinations off-site for a safer, more seamless dining experience. Resorts can also work with “safe” boat charter options, and other off-site excursion offers.
DJ: By the end of the vacation season, what will success look like?
Donlan:Again, it depends. Cruise bookings for the late 2021/2022 season have been strong from indications, and forward bookings are a sign for all segments including destinations that make social distancing difficult and require air travel to reach. Another success criterion to look at is activity from the most loyal customers for certain brands and locations. I think all businesses will be looking for steady upward trajectory/trends in booking interest and commitments from September onward.
More about Holiday, Vacation, Covid19, B2b, Business
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