How to Strike the Right Tone With Your Luxury Hotel Marketing During the Coronavirus Crisis

By Hâfi Martinsdóttir

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes | 890 words

During this global coronavirus pandemic, it’s important that we approach our marketing strategies with the responsibility that these unprecedented circumstances deserve. Most of us have been receiving emails from the hotels, resorts and brands that we follow stating that they hope to “see us someday soon”, as opposed to the usual marketing message of “book now!”. The subtle shift in the language used shows that the tourism industry around the world is taking this pandemic seriously.

The Shoreline in Tofino demonstrates this elegantly along with the hashtag #wakeupheresoon. 

Businesses within the tourism sector have been advised to encourage their market group to “daydream” about their potential future holiday. By continuing to market your hotel, resort or guesthouse favourably you are ensuring that when the time comes for people to begin booking once more, you are at the forefront of their mind. 

Many travel companies, such as Roadtrippers are suggesting that their audience spend this time planning their next trip and preparing to take it rather than actually booking. Now is the time to get people excited about future travel, even if they don’t want to book at this point in time.

Some companies have taken a different route entirely by sending a clear statement that travellers should stay away during this time and come back sometime in the future. By injecting some humour and provocative language, such as the trending hashtag #staythefuckhome, Visit Estonia has gained many new fans with people vowing to put Estonia at the top of their list thanks to this viral post.

When to encourage bookings

It has become critical for locations to monitor exactly when the time comes to start inspiring travellers to book once more. There are multiple factors involved, including the current active cases of COVID-19, the signals of intention to book by monitoring search analytics and individual countries and changes in their border protocols. Certain parts of the world will become accessible before others and it’s important that we monitor which countries are likely to open up for tourism first and which countries the fresh wave of tourists are likely to come from. This ensures that we are marketing our resorts and hotels to the right demographics. We also need to take in the different age range of the tourists who show signs of intending to travel first, as with the coronavirus older tourists are more likely to wait a lot longer before leaving home than their younger counterparts.

You can sign up to receive a weekly Coronavirus Traveler Sentiment Report here: Sparkloft

As mentioned in our previous post, How to Market Your Luxury Guesthouse or Resort During the COVID-19 Outbreak, focusing on your domestic market will be the best bet during the earlier stages as the situation stabilises. Then continue to gradually increase marketing efforts abroad, starting with countries that begin opening up first.

 “When is the date right to go back to marketing? It is greatly going to depend [on the destination]” Martin Stoll, CEO of Sparkloft said. “What are people coming to do in your destination? Where are they coming from, is it a drive market or fly market? Are they going to be outside in a national park, or are they going because you have a lot of shows and concerts like Las Vegas, for example.”

Sparkloft is continuing to monitor “intent to travel” which shows how attitudes and peoples intent begin to grow in anticipation of the current situation growing more stable.

How to prepare your marketing strategy:

  1. Begin using a less-immediate language within your marketing such as “see you soon” as opposed to “book today!” to avoid a tone-deaf approach.
  2. Continue marketing to increase desire for your location and encourage daydreaming of your destination.
  3. Monitor the data to see when demand is likely to start flowing in again for your area.
  4. Monitor which countries are likely to open up first including your own country’s regulations.
  5. Take this time to prepare your business for a wave of guests as control loosens up once more and people begin booking those trips they have been dreaming about and planning while in isolation.
  6. Optimistic bookings are predicted to begin happening again in May with people hoping to take advantage of the lower rates.

Dean, the DMO of Discover Puerto Rico shared their approach to marketing during this time:

“About a week ago we began to shift … out of a responsibility to our visitors but also our local industry. People are not purchasing or planning [trips] but they’re still dreaming and they can still be inspired. The message is very much intended to keep Puerto Rico top of mind. While travel is not a top priority for us right now — and frankly not possible for most people — we do want to make sure that when we come out of this, Puerto Rico will be there to catch demand.” (Source: Skift).


Soften your tone when it comes to marketing your destination, observe the regulations laid out by your country’s health care officials but when the situation starts to stabilise be ready to promote and encourage tourists to return once more.

If you would like some feedback on your online marketing strategy, apply below for a business & website review followed by a 15 minute consultation, all free of charge. We wish to help as many guesthouses, small hotels and independent resorts get through this turbulence as possible and would be delighted to offer our advice and guidance.

Unsure of your next step? Get clear on your hotel’s recovery strategy

Gain access to our COVID-19 Hotel Reopening Checklist

As COVID-19 is unlikely to disappear completely without an effective vaccine, it’s expected that we will have a W shaped recovery with lock downs repeatedly being enforced, relaxed and enforced again over time. Being prepared for this tumultuous recovery will stand you and your hotel in good stead to ride the waves to come.

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