“Everything considered conventional has been redefined,” said Lama Accary Bibi, Managing Director of boutique advertising agency, Means Design when asked about what the new normal looks like for the hospitality industry. The sector was dealt with the harshest blow by the economic aftershocks of Covid-19. Communicate spoke with Bibi to learn how the agency’s clients managed their communications during the pandemic and how they plan to navigate in the new normal.
How has the Covid-19 crisis impacted the hospitality industry from a marketing perspective?
During these unprecedented times, the hospitality sector has been amongst the hardest hit [by Covid-19.] With many departments scaling back on operations, marketing has had to redefine the traditional, communicate effectively, react quickly, and seek new opportunities.
What strategies or solutions did you advise your hospitality clients to adopt during that period?
Staycations were the most googled word – which brought up new opportunities in Resort Hotels. City Hotels needed to think outside the box with more creative packages to attract interest. Open and honest communication, comprehensive measures for safety and sanitization, last-minute cancelations, flexible check-ins, and check-out and moving to digital was the new normal. The hospitality sector needed to ensure all channels were constantly updated to ensure confidence and security.
What were the key takeaways you and your clients learned from this experience?
How do you react to the unthinkable? We spend months planning and strategizing but in times of crisis, response time is of utmost urgency. As an agency, we had to step up by working overtime and on weekends alongside [our client’s] marketing teams. We needed to react quickly and implement change, communicate updates, respond to crisis management, and move hospitality requirements digitally. From QR codes to online check-ins, the traditional was redefined and updates were required instantly with the changing guidelines. Too many internal layers delay action. We realized how valuable our agency was, in getting results, and the importance of being full-fledged to communicate updates on all channels efficiently.
Have you gained any new skills as a result?
We officially launched our PR department as a result of Covid- 19, recruiting value-added talent. We believe that creativity should be the essence of any marketing and communication agency. To stand out from the competition, brands need to think outside the box and the global recession has pushed brands to become more innovative. With our full-fledged service, we harness the means to design impactful stories and visuals that creatively spark interest.
What does the new normal look like for the hospitality industry right now?
Everything considered conventional has been redefined. The new normal is moving towards a paperless, digital, and sustainable future. Today, we still want to enjoy life but the new normal has made us crave friendlier and [more] intimate experiences. For example, luxury in the hotel brunch experience was defined as a lavish culinary journey and today it’s about quality à table.
What kind of tone is the industry using right now in their communications?
Our hospitality brands have adopted a friendly, humble, and comforting tone of voice. It gives our guests reassurance and conveys that their safety and the staff’s safety is the utmost priority. They have also had the confidence to manage crisis’ securely while ensuring personalized service to meet all the customer’s needs.
Are there any shifts/adaptions that could become permanent?
Similar to the Roaring Twenties that occurred after the 1918 pandemic, hospitality will flourish again alongside the economy. The world will continue to grow further digitally. Mobile online check-ins, keyless entry, touchpoints inside rooms, and sanitization will be the norm. At one point, we’ll probably forget what it was like to live through the pandemic but we definitely made history.