BENIDORM. The tourism marketing congress Most Congress in its 2021 edition brought together numerous experts on the subject to address the current situation, where the pandemic has disrupted all the plans that are being worked on in this area of the big brands. This was also reflected in the format in which the event was held: totally ‘online’ and away from the Benidorm City Hall assembly hall, where it has taken place since its first edition.
In the last round table they brought together three large hotel companies to discuss the current situation. It had the presence of Cristina Salmeron (Global Brand Director at Iberostar), Susanna Mander (Global Head of Brand Marketing-Senior Director Global Brand Marketing at Maliá Hoteles Internacional) and Neus Tarrés (Global Strategy, Marketing, Loyalty and Technology at Sandos Hotels). The host of this part of the event was Lola Buendia, responsible for digital marketing at Hosteltur, a newspaper specialized in tourism that organizes the congress.
The speakers showed the need for brands to position their companies and prepare for the return to activity when the pandemic subsides. In this sense, Tarrés pointed out that during the health crisis they have focused all their efforts on the objectives that have been set during these months. The person in charge of this area at Sandos Hotels explained that there are many tools that digital marketing makes available, but “resources are limited.”
Likewise, he mentioned that when they had to close the hotels, they saw how all the campaigns that were being directed lost their positioning, while those that focused on the establishments that remained open, have had better performance: “There were fewer advertisers betting on the same words”.
For her part, Susanna Mander indicated that the digitization had occurred in Meliá some time ago, so they had not been caught off guard. Thus, he stated that during confinement, investment in marketing was zero, so much so that social networks – which bring together eight million followers in all their brands – were used organically, that is, without paying to increase the reach of users.
In addition, Mander referred to the months after the confinement, which he christened a “accordion effect “, as the market opens and closes continuously, as well as borders, tour operator programs, etc. “It has been exhausting,” said the expert, while explaining that the strategy was to send emails or sms to clients communicating the opening of their accommodations. He then indicated that they are waiting to see when the market opens and if there is a clearer demand to make a greater investment for the search for sales: “We are talking about the first semester to move that effort.” However, they confirmed that they were working focused on last minute sales.
Mander explained that the important thing is to communicate to the client without being aggressive. Something in which he agreed with Salmerón, who defended that la brand “are values, it represents a company philosophy“. In this way, he opined that customers choose a company because they” transmit something “to them and” want to belong to groups similar to them. “Similarly, he stressed that they are given the power of information, since they know what happens, when and where. “In addition, they have a voice, they trust other users and their comments” to decide on the purchase. For it to be a positive contribution, he stressed that the important thing is to “be consistent” with them: “You have to be faithful to the client to achieve it “.
For his part, Salmerón found the key to marketing for these times, which involves communicating security and confidence in the midst of the pandemic. In this sense, he explained that one of his campaigns is based on lower the level of stress for the client knowing that they will be safe in the facilities they are going to reserve. To do this, they have set up an “immersive” reservation system, which consists of visiting the hotel with 3D images from the computer.
Finally, Tarrés explained that their strategies are now being mixed, combining the ‘online’ with the ‘offline’ that allows them to go directly to the user. And Mander pointed out that one of the last campaigns has been that of Blackfriday, where everyone was wondering if it would work. The data, said the head of advertising for Meliá, were positive as far as possible, achieving 50% of the activity than the previous year.
For this, he explained that the communication strategy consisted of informing about the health protocols, to create trust, something that they have also applied for the campaign back to summer, accompanied by the desire to travel and the tactical offer.