Go Pros and Goats – how to evolve hotel marketing strategies in the Covid-19 era – by Richard Thorburn

 By Richard Thorburn, marketing communications manager of Six Senses Zighy Bay

Just how do you market a resort that no-one can currently get to? Like all of us who work in the hospitality industry, it’s a question that we thought we’d never be asked …

While the majority of hotel marketing teams are planning on how to adapt their marketing, PR and social strategies for when they reopen and can welcome guests, we at Six Senses decided to take a different approach.

With a strong legacy of sustainability woven into our brand values, we quickly adapted our strategy to create #AtHomeWithSixSenses, curated digital content brought directly to the public.

This complimentary resource ensures that our brand essence remains very much front-of-mind as guests mourn their holidays amidst strong waves of wanderlust, while also offering support through relevant content relating to wellness and mental health.

Over the past few weeks at Six Senses Zighy Bay, we’ve filmed tutorials on how to wash camels, put GoPros on goats and shared recipes for some of our most loved dishes as well as homemade beauty products.

Now more than ever, audiences don’t need messages that are full of marketing speak. They don’t want to hear about how many villas, restaurants or pools we have.

Instead, they want to reconnect to the humanity of their travels – knowing that the members of staff that they’ve built an affinity with during previous stays are safe and well, feeling reassured that we are ready to welcome them back when we can, and they want us to bring the resort to them, creating content that satisfies the escapism they yearn whilst they scroll.

This is the time to create content that allows you to delve deeper into your brand stories, communicating with your guests as if you were chatting over a drink, sharing anecdotes that are compelling and memorable enough to ease their worry.

Content that triggers positive and optimistic thoughts for the future, or stories that educate or – even better – make people laugh at a time when they need it the most, whilst keeping our brand values as strong as ever.

When the world begins to return to something resembling what we know, consumers – just like you, and me – will look back with affinity at the brands who really helped them smile throughout. At Six Senses Zighy Bay, we hope to be one of the first that springs to mind.

I’d be lying if I said the past couple of months hasn’t been without challenge. Having not been able to visit the resort for six weeks due to border closures has brought about a new way of working, but it’s also been a chance to find talents that you might previously not know existed and tap into some creative modes of developing new skillsets.

Whether it’s Leonila, our restaurant manager at Sense on the Edge and Omar, a night receptionist, channeling their inner Spielberg to become honorary members of Zighy TV, or me refamiliarising myselfwith video editing, these are skills that will be used in a world far beyond Covid-19.

Covid-19 has given all of us something to relate to, fostering a sense of global connection. Against this commonality, we don’t need to be so heavily curated or polished in our content any more, but just need to be as ‘real’ as possible – helping each other through this period, working towards the new future that this pandemic will bring for us.

We all know that the future will look different, that we’ll need time to open up again – and will undoubtedly be working towards different strategies. But this shouldn’t mean that we should go into hibernation mode for the next few months until things are back to ‘normal’ again.

People will travel again – we just need to be there along the way, until it happens.