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Importance of PR for the Hospitality Industry post COVID-19

COVID-19 has affected every sector across the globe, and the hospitality industry is among the hardest hit. A research by Mckinsey suggests that recovery to pre-COVID-19 levels could take until 2023-or later.

Strategies to flatten the COVID-19 curve such as community lockdowns, social distancing, stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions had resulted in temporary closure of many hospitality businesses and significantly decreased the demand for businesses that were allowed to continue their operations. With many players unable cope with these problems, thousands of businesses have shut down permanently.

The hospitality industry in India contributes to approximately 10 per cent of the GDP which has hit an all-time low after a revenue decline of ₹90,000 crores in March-August 2020. Due to lack of revenue most companies have cut down marketing budgets and terminated all PR activities.

But an important question today is should companies completely freeze their marketing & PR initiatives or craft a suitable strategy aligned to the current situation?

Why do businesses need PR now more than ever?

PR teams today have a harder time justifying budget spend versus digital marketing. When companies are measuring ROI based on direct sales, PR is often the first to be removed from the list. However, the reality is that a good PR story is substantially more effective than many other forms of marketing. Advertisements are considered clearly as a sales pitch but PR is similar to a third-party endorsement, as it puts key messaging out through a variety of media outlets.

The pandemic has created such a negative environment around people that they are scared to trust anything and a third-party endorsement by reliable media outlets is the key to reviving the dwindling trust of consumers.

Need for PR now

While most countries are still fighting the pandemic, the hospitality industry is opening up worldwide. But getting these hotels and eateries to open is only the start as there are many new hurdles causing an hinderance to these businesses. A good PR agency with a thorough understanding of the market is just what a brand needs to creatively tide through the situation. A number of innovative strategies are being adopted by premium PR agencies like Star Squared PR to promote their brands during this phase.

PR Strategies to adopt during the pandemic:

Safety First Campaigns – While hotels and resorts are open, convincing individuals of the safety measures being taken requires constant reassurance through media interactions and social media presence. Social media campaigns around new safety policies and webinars with industry leaders are the new forms of marketing being adopted by major industry players. Celebrities, travel writers and influencers are being roped in worldwide to create online campaigns that are being viewed by millions.

Partner Marketing – Two is always better than one. PR teams are pulling together and collaborating with other companies to create a successful package story. MakeMyTrip’s new staycation campaign is a good example of airlines and hotels clubbing their marketing strategy and getting their PR teams to tap into various media outlets.

Balancing business with empathy– Brand messaging must shift from sales to a brand that truly cares. PR team are focusing on the human element and delivering the brand’s message to their target audience in the language and tone that is likely to be remembered by people even after the pandemic. Messages around community first are being endorsed and CSR initiatives are getting highlighted.

Need of the hour

Sooner or later, the pandemic will end, therefore one needs to reevaluate objectives and strategies of their company and the best way to do this is by viewing PR and Marketing as an opportunity to connect with one’s clients and the public in new unexplored ways. This could be achieved by showing a different and more humane side of the brand’s personality during such uncertain times. It is important for brands now more than ever to communicate openly, honestly, and frequently as most people will remember what brands did and said during this time of crisis.

About the Author:

Karthika Chandramohan is an Account Director at Star Squared PR. She is a marketing and communication professional with over 6 years of experience. She is a business management graduate from Pearl Academy of Fashion and works closely with a number of hospitality and lifestyle brands.