Taking a New Approach to Marketing Amid COVID-19
This post about Guesty power user OptiNest delves into creative ways to adapt your marketing strategy to secure more bookings despite the challenges presented by coronavirus.
OptiNest is an Australia-based property management company with over 200 listings to its name. In addition to property management, OptiNest also provides housekeeping and operational services, giving the company firsthand knowledge of exactly what it takes to keep guests satisfied.
When COVID-19 hit earlier this year, OptiNest Co-founder and CEO Aaron Zang immediately recognized that in addition to the downturn in travel, another trend was developing in tandem: the guests who were booking stays had an entirely new set of expectations. True to its roots as a young, agile and innovative company, OptiNest quickly adapted to this emerging reality by implementing simple yet effective changes to its marketing strategy to appeal to the needs of these guests.
Highlight What Matters Most
For the most part, COVID-19-era travelers belong to a few specific groups: stranded travelers, frontline workers who need a place to stay to avoid exposing their loved ones to the virus, those looking to self-isolate, and “work-from-homers” who are seeking out a new arrangement now that remote work is here to stay. Unlike your typical vacationers, these guests are not interested in the nearest tourist attractions and restaurants — they are concerned with two key issues: safety/cleanliness and comfort.
When it comes to their safety, they need to know that the hosts are following recommended cleaning protocols and taking care to limit human contact. As for comfort, these guests will typically stay for 14 days or more, most of which they will spend within the property. They want to be sure that they will have all the amenities and entertainment they need for that extended stay.
Recognizing these needs, OptiNest updated their listing profile photos with bright yellow tags to grab the attention of potential guests and advertise relevant benefits, such as: masks provided, sanitized property, grocery shopping, fast WiFi, PlayStation and games provided. This quick update makes it immediately clear to guests that they will be comfortable for a longer stay and that their hosts understand the importance of adhering to new cleanliness and hygiene standards.
While listing photos and descriptions are arguably the most valuable marketing real estate for property management companies, OptiNest took their strategy a step further to put guests completely at ease. They adopted a flexible refund policy and lowered prices for longer stays to help ease the challenges that guests are facing right now. Lowering prices at a time when revenue is already scarce can feel daunting, but being flexible about pricing to attract longer stays helps to ensure steady occupancy over time.
Additionally, Zang advises property management companies to be even more alert and responsive than usual to messages and inquiries at this time. The bar for trusting hosts has been raised, and quick and informative responses help build guest relationships and lend a much-needed human touch.
For OptiNest and other property management companies, maintaining business stability during coronavirus comes down to showing guests you understand their concerns through your listings and marketing channels. Remember to:
- Highlight the changes you’ve made to promote safety and comfort for guests
- Consider the amenities and benefits that will particularly appeal to guests staying for 14+ days
- Be flexible about pricing, cancellation and refund policies to attract more bookings
- Respond to all messages and inquiries as quickly as possible to establish trust
For more resources on navigating COVID-19 as a property management company, visit our Coronavirus Infocenter.