As more and more countries close their borders and halt international travel, it leaves hotel marketers with a dilemma when it comes to their strategy. A fairly obvious observation, granted – however something which warrants more nuanced thought.

In the face of cancelled flights and hotel bookings – is it fair to say that travel isn’t top of mind? Probably – however it does shine the spotlight on something which we in the industry have been long discussing…the importance of full funnel messaging and in particular trying stay relevant at a time when people are very clearly not booking travel.

Whether it be via distribution or paid advertising, up to this point too much focus has been placed on generating bookings, while this makes total sense when trying to capitalise on an engaged travellers looking to book a holiday, at present with the Covid-19 pandemic practically halting all travel – campaigns focussed on bookings appear tone deaf.

So what can hotel brands do in these strange times to maintain a dialogue with travellers in a way which resonates with the current mood? I’ve seen some good examples and I’ve also seen some outright shocking adverts in the past few weeks.

PR teams are working in overdrive to understand what their messaging should be, general consensus it that it’s not a time to be pushing product, rather being seen to help their customers in these difficult times. For example CSR has taken a leading role in helping brands stay part of the conversation, this should in theory be something hotels can get on board with. F&B in hotels right now practically none existent through mandated closures for dining in – this reduced pressure on the kitchen opens up some great possibilities when it comes to perhaps providing meals for key workers such as healthcare professionals. With Ramadan just around the corner this could be a great opportunity to extend this goodwill beyond just the 4 weeks of the Holy Month, something many brands overlook each year.

Marriott have chosen to go down a more traditional route with their recent social campaign, tapping into some UGC legacy content and reminding people that they will travel again at some point. I personally like this messaging, it resonates with me on a dreaming and inspiration level. While I might not be booking travel right now, I am, like many people still thinking about travel further down the line and it is welcome content at a time when everything else I see on my feed is pretty depressing.

It’s also a great time to helping spread the wider message of #stayhome or as the Estonia Tourist Board have put it, #staythef***home – great article here on Skift I read this morning. Hotels shouldn’t be pushing staycation offers or promotions at a time when we are very clearly being told to stay at home and practice social distancing. The time for these messages will come – hopefully sooner rather than later however in the meantime, let’s all try and work together to spread the message of stay home.

Going back to the goodwill, my wife just pointed out this wonderful initiative in the United Kingdom, GG Hospitality Group (owned by retired soccer stars Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs) is offering up rooms in two of their Manchester-based hotels currently closed to general public – totalling 176 beds. The hotels will be open, free of charge, to nurses, doctors, and medical personnel battling the COVID-19 outbreaks who would like to self-isolate away from their families. Neville explains the move via Twitter here

These are are unprecedented times, while I am not trying to make light of the situation by highlighting ill-timed campaigns or offers, we would all benefit from taking a moment to step back and think about how our business’ can positively impact peoples lives while we ride out this wave (see, I’m already subconsciously thinking about travel)