Hotel industry realigns marketing strategies to manage empty rooms

Integrated communications and targetted campaigns will see rise.

NEW DELHI: Undoubtedly, the hospitality industry is one of the worst hit due to Covid2019. Though the government has lifted major restrictions in various Unlock phases, there has been no significant improvement in the footfall of customers. Small guest houses are on the verge of closing down.

According to a survey by real estate consultancy firm JLL, just 20 per cent of the operators believe that their hotels could bounce back to 2019 revenue per available room or RevPAR levels within six to 12 months.

Companies are adhering to new standard operating procedures.

OYO Hotels & Homes head of global brand Mayur Hola opines that the situation won’t improve straight away, unfortunately. “We’re equipping our asset owner partners with the knowledge they need to be able to qualify as Sanitised Stays and we’re monitoring this constantly. There’s a set of processes to follow to get the Sanitised Stays tag on our app. Slowly but surely our loyal base is returning to the fold.”

The Park Hotel, which has a robust presence in the Indian market, is undergoing mandatory hygiene, safety, sanitisation and social distancing protocols training.

Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels Ltd corporate director (communication & PR) Ruchita Mehta explains the brand is using this time to prepare strongly, learn new things and come back with a greater understanding of the nuances.

The brand has launched S.H.I.E.L.D, an all-encompassing program that brings the best of luxury, design, hygiene, safety and service excellence all under one roof. 

"We have launched our campaign We are Open – where we inform our audiences about the hotels being reopened bolstered with SHIELD. We made our audiences aware about the program through a precursor video, followed by a launch video," says Mehta. 

She says, “The guest needs to have trust in the brand and any brand which will have a higher trust value in terms of sanitisation will see a faster set of people coming back. We are reaching out to our valued patrons about elevated sanitisation protocols being adhered to through our website, e-mailers, and social media. It is a healthy mix of every platform.”

She affirms that the brand has seen a lot of people traveling via road to its hotels in Jammu, Goa, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Vizag, Serampore – where the COVID2019 situation has been managed well.

“Times are changing and so are the ways to reach out to target audiences. Now more than ever, the need to adapt to integrated communications has risen. Digital and social media consumption is on an all-time high, which gives brands an opportunity to up their consumer-engagement levels with minimal expenses,” Mehta adds.

EaseMyTrip founder Nishant Pitti, in a recent interview with, said, “we expect that the new normal shall emerge within this quarter itself and shall remain constant till a cure for COVID2019 is developed, post which the whole sector will quickly grow to pre-COVID level."

On coming out with new campaigns, Hola explains that mass dissemination of any message/campaign would be wasteful and unfocussed with the uncertainty, restrictions, and lockdown variance across different states. To effectively roll out a campaign that informs and engages our users for Oyo has focused its distribution amongst its frequent user base (referred to as power users).

“Every single brand in the hospitality industry will have the responsibility to ensure the safety of its guests and inform all stakeholders about the same. There will be a layer of Sanitised Stays on all our marketing efforts going forward,” he adds.

Business travel is expected to reduce in the post COVID2019 world as companies will rationalise spending on travel. It is also likely that domestic tourism will pick faster as compare to international travel.

Mehta shares, “We estimate faster pick-up of domestic travel, which in turn, will give the required push to domestic tourism. Local for Vocal aspect is also finding strong grounds, which will help Indian tourism in regaining strength.”

Festive season is likely to see some people step out for short trips, as per brands.

Mehta shares, “I would like to believe by the time we reach the festive season we will have much to celebrate and rejoice. But also, a lot will depend on when can one expect a vaccine.”

Pitti is hopeful that the festive season will definitely bring some positivity to the sector. “There will be an uptick in transactions, but this uptick would be very small in comparison to the splurge that was seen during the festivities of pre-Covid2019 times.”

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