In 2019, California was one of the brightest stars in tourism in the country. Its hotel industry was booming.
According to a report by Atlas Hospitality Group, the Golden State boasted over 11,000 rooms spread across nearly a hundred hotels. At least 200 more accommodation options were under construction, possibly increasing the room supply to over 28,000.
Then the pandemic happened in 2020. With a spike in cases and stay-at-home orders, the American Hotel and Lodging Association believed that over 33% of the state’s hotels wouldn’t make it past three months. More than 50% will not last after six months.
Undoubtedly, accommodation options from hotels to inns and bed-and-breakfasts suffer a lot because of the pandemic. If you’re in this industry, how can you increase your chances of surviving until everything gains some sense of normalcy? Answer: pivoting with technology.
Pivoting with Digital Marketing
Now is the best time for accommodation options in California to work with digital marketing experts. That includes a web design specialist. While companies can choose any digital marketing expert or even outsource the job offshore, dealing with a local agency has its advantages:
• Home-grown digital marketing agencies are familiar with the culture and behavior of local consumers.
• Communication between the client and the provider is easier and faster.
• Supporting local businesses can also contribute to the growth of California’s economy. Other industries, including tourism, can also benefit from that directly or indirectly.
But why is it necessary for accommodation companies to pivot their marketing strategies, focusing more on online efforts?
1. Consumers these days are using the Internet to look for a hotel. Based on Google’s Insights, the number of people searching for accommodation in California significantly dropped this year compared to 2019. Of those who looked, over 90% were locals, while 5% were international visitors.
2. The pandemic accelerated e-commerce growth. The US Retail Index of IBM reported that the pandemic hastened the demand for e-commerce by five years. As consumers spend more time at home and practice social distancing, they find online shopping the easiest and most convenient way to get their needs.
What does this have to do with hotels? Accommodations can now offer more than rooms. The Historic Smithton Inn in Pennsylvania decided to sell their alcoholic beverages online after the state prohibited the operations of liquor stores. Moreover, the inn sold candles, bedsheets, and other hotel-related items that consumers may have already missed, or the accommodation has in oversupply.
Making the Most of Available Tech
Accommodation choices in California can also adopt the same tech other brands are using to attract more customers and increase their value in the market:
• The Historic Smithton Inn used the grants and loans they received to improve their existing tech. For example, they provided a more robust wireless Internet connection that can reach all rooms. They also bought larger smart TVs and individual coffee pots to help guests practice social distancing.
• Hilton is reaping the rewards of its investment in technology. Their guests can now log in to their online accounts, select the room they want, book it, and receive a digital key. All these help minimize physical contact.
• Hotels in Germany are now available on a website that links their rooms to workers who want a change in their home environment without the fear of being close to anyone. These accommodations have converted their units into small offices where guests can use WiFi and order room service remotely.
Surviving the pandemic and its effects won’t be easy, especially for those in the tourism industry. But while it brings plenty of challenges, it may also open new opportunities. One of these is going digital and maximizing available technologies to improve customer service and brand.