Even as state and local governments begin easing stay at home orders and businesses start reopening under guidelines designed to protect public health, there is an important (and conflicted) stakeholder to consider: your customer.
After months of practicing social distancing and other necessary behavioral and lifestyle changes for the greater good, there are two opposing inclinations at war in their minds: 1) the desire to return to normalcy and 2) the fear of exposing themselves (and their loved ones) to the virus. This is the headspace where you must meet them when you consider how to communicate with customers during the pandemic.
Pre-Opening: Aspirational Messaging
Customers are eager to travel once again and all too aware of how long they’ve been stuck at home—with many literally counting the days. This one-two punch of unfulfilled wanderlust and cabin fever is landing some pretty punishing blows to their psyche.
When borders are unpassable to visitors and hotel doors are closed to guests, it’s still paramount to keep your property or destination top-of-mind, so when the time comes to decide where to go, the answer is you. At this stage, we recommend delivering aspirational content to fuel your customers’ vacation dreaming. Just be mindful of your messaging! It can be a fine line between inspiring future plans and seeming as if you’re promoting travel today, which is certain to be met with backlash. This is no time for a hard sell or pointed call to action.
Re-Opening: Clear Communication
Remember those two opposing inclinations mentioned earlier? Yes, people want to travel again and free themselves from the monotony of “pandemic life” but there will be a genuine concern about venturing out from the relative safety of the bubble they’ve been surviving in for months.
It’s your job to put the customer’s mind at ease, as much as possible, by laying out everything your destination or property is doing to ensure their well-being. Where, pre-pandemic, an image of a dramatic panorama accompanied only by a logo and URL could sway travelers to flock to you, now you’ll have to use your words to detail every step you’re taking to protect your visitors, guests and employees. Looking for guidance on those steps? We’ve shared our insights in Post-Pandemic: What Will the Travel & Hospitality Industry (Have to) Look Like? and our Reopening Checklist For Hotels & Resorts. Bottom line? You cannot overcommunicate when it comes to your customers’ safety.
Always: Stay On-Brand
No matter what stage of this journey your property or destination is in—pre-opening or re-opening—you must ensure that your every communication with customers is on-brand. This can be tricky.
Let’s say you operate a luxury overwater bungalow resort and your brand identity is romantic and ethereal. You should continue to communicate with your customers and prospects in your brand voice, but ensure you are giving them a clear path to the hard, plainly-stated facts about guest health and safety they require to make a decision about whether or not to stay with you.
If you could use a marketing partner to help get you through these not-business-as-usual times, give Lynn Kaniper a call at 609.466.9187 ext. 117 or drop her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.