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Guest Column: Hospitality brands repositioning themselves in the market post-pandemic

The need is for brands to invest in strong marketing and consumer engagement.

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Mumbai: The pandemic has affected a substantial amount of businesses globally and has severely impacted the travel and the hospitality sector. The Indian hotel industry has suffered losses of Rs 620 crore. The hotel chain and standalone hotel segments are expected to lose more than Rs 130-155 crore, while the alternate accommodation category is expected to lose more than Rs 420-470 crore. This has changed the way hospitality brands used to engage and position themselves in the market.

During the pandemic as the restrictions were imposed, the restaurants and F&B services of the hospitality brands managed to survive through home delivery of food, which was possible through service partners like Zomato, Swiggy, Uber eats, etc. The experience of fine dining, the ambience, ordering through a menu card, and the special hospitality services that customers used to gain were completely lost. Now that the pandemic restrictions have been lifted, they will expect more from these hospitality brands, as people no longer circumspect about the food they eat but it is about the services that they experience. This emerges the need for brands to invest in strong marketing and consumer engagement plans which will help them to stand out from their competitors.

With the help of an effective PR strategy, these hospitality brands can once again gain visibility among their stakeholders and consumers, using announcement campaigns or a simple consumer engagement campaign. This can help in announcing their return to business with newer offerings and covid appropriate services, etc. thereby engaging with and reassuring their customers.

Here are some of the benefits that the hospitality brands can obtain with a strong PR campaign to win back visibility and business opportunities:

Brand positioning

With a strong marketing and consumer engagement plan, the hospitality brand will be able to create a top of mind recall among the customers. With the change in the market scenario, most businesses have to innovate and create covid appropriate solutions and services, while also focusing on their existing products. A well-planned PR campaign can help hospitality brands to be relevant and effective in the new market.

Long term customer loyalty

An effective PR campaign can help in building the lost touch and renew customer relationships that were present before the pandemic. Through effective media engagement, brands can build transparency, trust, and credibility for the brand and in turn create visibility and rebuild a set of loyal customers.

Helps build a narrative for the business

A PR specialist can help in forming a strong narrative for the company, be it talking about the sanitized and safe environment, special menus, newer innovations in services and focused customer service. This helps in building an appropriate solution based on the scenario. With a better understanding of the problem, a PR specialist can accurately offer solutions by using the right phrases to help build the image of the brand.

Ease of doing business

PR campaigns that are developed around spokesperson profiling through interviews, industry story participation, opinion pieces and authored content, etc. can help in the building thought leadership and help in targeting the relevant customers. This in return gives the brand better support in the market among the stakeholders, resulting in ease of doing business.

More engaging campaigns

With the help of a PR specialist, hospitality brands can connect with their target customers with more engaging programs, which in return will increase brand engagement. These programs can be centered through experiences, which is possible by optimizing the product offering, complementary events, gigs/ live music, special celebrity appearances, etc. which is a great way to promote the brand, engage with the target audience and ultimately boost sales.

With the help of an effective PR campaign, hospitality brands can reposition themselves with a strong PR narrative which can help them garner visibility and build the right image of themselves post-pandemic. Partnering with a good PR agency will help you combat these difficulties and provide solutions that will give you a strong head start to successful growth in the hospitality sector.

The author is Anindita Gupta, Co-Founder, Scenic Communication

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