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Tips Kitchen Table Recap: When and How to Start Promotional Marketing Again

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The big question we sought to tackle on our last Kitchen Table conversation was,

“So…when will it be OK to market again?”

In my mind the answer to that question is NOW-ish…BUT there are some major qualifiers on that statement – the WHAT and the HOW are more crucial now than ever before.

Before We Start

Before we jump into the details, I think it needs to be said that all of this is contingent on the assumption that you have already addressed refunds and cancellations of any season passes or reservations that had to be cancelled due to closures.

Specific refund policies will vary based on the situation, but whatever those policies may be, it is paramount that they have been clearly communicated to your previous guests. Addressing these issues up front will garner a level of trust that will be crucial to navigating the next steps.

The WHAT

With that caveat out of the way, when we discuss the WHAT of marketing during this recovery, it is important to realize that the traditional hierarchy of needs has been completely turned on its head. Addressing this shift in your messaging will allow you to avoid coming across as tone-deaf. Below is a list of some of these shifting needs as well as some ways to address them.

NEED CONSIDERATIONS
Health / Safety Detail safety precautions being taken onsite
Financial Uncertainty Offer flexible refund policies or payment plans
Operational Uncertainty Create flexible or delayed booking deadlines
Compassion / Empathy Avoid a “hard sell” message
Trust Is this company “GOOD”
Dreaming of the Future Sell the HOPE of tomorrow
Transparency Explain how sales will help you through the crisis
Social Distancing Be aware of imagery used to ensure it aligns with social distancing (no huge crowds/party scenes)

The HOW

Once you have assured that your messaging reflects the shifting needs of travelers, there will also be some more logistical considerations to take into account when you begin to re-enter the marketplace. The HOW of your emerging marketing tactics should be sure to incorporate a segmentation strategy that reflects some of these new realities of travel.

Air Travel
One of the most impactful and lingering challenges will be the reduction of airline capacity across the board. Shifting your focus to an extended regional drive market will likely be necessary for the initial stages of recovery.

As travelers may be willing to go the extra mile in the face of uncertain air travel,
this segment may include a slightly broader geographic definition of “drive market” than what may have historically been the case.

Loyal/Repeat
The other segment to highlight during this time period will be your loyal/repeat guests. In normal times, we might refer to this audience as the “low hanging fruit,” in post-quarantine life, these may be the only fruit on the tree. Travelers are likely to be risk averse as they begin to venture out into the world and they will return to the brands and experiences that have earned their trust.

Now is not the time to be out prospecting…focus on your core and see how they respond before venturing into new markets.

Be HUMAN

With all of this said, it is important to keep in mind that we’re all figuring this out as we go. We’re likely all sick of hearing the already over-used phrase “the new normal.” Who are we trying to fool…none of this is normal by any stretch of the imagination.

As we dip our toes back into the marketing world just remember that we will make mistakes. Be gentle with yourselves and do your best to ensure that, if nothing else, your marketing displays some level of humanity. That is the best we can do in these uncertain times.

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