Why Refreshing Your Hotel Target Market Segmentation Strategy During COVID-19 is Non-negotiable

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that the hotel industry is subject to significant change at any moment. In fact, even without COVID-19, the hotel industry is changeable at the best of times. The hotel industry continues to face new challenges of exponential tourism growth, stronger competition, changes to traveller trends, and environmental concerns like sustainability.

The world is changing, and the hotel industry must change with it

Before COVID-19, many accommodation owners were sitting quite comfortably without deploying much change in their business. But the world is changing, and the hotel industry must change with it.  No longer can hoteliers stick with old marketing strategies, out of date hotel management systems, and, of course, hoteliers can no longer target the same guests. Because of COVID-19, travel trends have changed at an exponential scale. The whole world has seen borders closed off, flights cancelled, and hotels closed (both in temporary and permanent cases). 

Hoteliers cannot welcome the same target markets that they used to 

No longer can hoteliers expect to welcome the same guest segments that they did in a world before COVID-19. The hotels that are and will continue to survive this pandemic are the ones that make proactive changes to their approach – and this starts with shifting the guest focus and refreshing your target market segmentation strategy.

Your favourite segment on the other side of the world can’t get to you right now, so who are you going to welcome instead? 

Here's how to go about re-segmenting your hotel target market

COVID-19 has had negative influences to businesses across all industries, but the tourism and hospitality industries have arguably taken the biggest hit. The world continues to go into lockdowns in order to stop the spread of the virus – all the while, border closures remain for most countries, and others have very strict travel restrictions.

For most hotels, international guests are now completely out of reach 

Hoteliers are now having to consider how to remain strong during this drastic shift in the market – and for many, this means shifting the focus to domestic target market segments. 

Here’s how to do this...

Step 1: Assess market trends and changes in the industry

Start by assessing the market in your specific location. Every country has taken a different hit from COVID-19, so some have more rigid travel restrictions than others.  Ensure to stay consistently up to date with the news, and what changes are happening in your country, city, and town. This will help you identify which target markets are no longer worth reaching for (at least for now).

Step 2: Determine which types of travellers are within reach

Once you’ve assessed the market (and remember, COVID-19 is unpredictable, so you may have to do this more than once), you can then consider(and discover) new potential target markets.

If your country is in a safe enough place to allow domestic travel, you have the entire population to explore to find the best target market segments to suit your hotel property. Or, if travel is restricted to within your city, you could consider targeting locals with “staycation” schemes, for instance. 

Step 3: Re-define your target market segments

Following your research and exploration of the market, you’ll have the information you need to re-segment your hotel target market.

Hotel businesses all over the world are having to shift their target market, and a key part of this is making changes to their hotel services. Make sure to match your hotel services with your new target market segments – remember, it is the hotels that are embracing change that are those who are not only surviving, but thriving.

Stay positive and find which travellers are within your new reach 

Find which travel segments are within your reach, make necessary changes to your service offering, and re-angle your marketing strategies. Don’t be afraid to try something completely new – this is how your hotel will survive until COVID-19 settles and international travel reopens. 

Want to learn more about the types of travellers in the hotel industry, and how to segment your target market?

Read about hotel target market segmentation here.

Guest Post by Alix Dougherty, Content Marketing Specialist at Preno