The current pandemic has caused rampant disruptions in communications and operations for businesses worldwide. It has challenged the mettle and has also stretched the capabilities of business owners to survive in uncertain, dangerous conditions. These times have made us realize one awful certainty: we should all be more prepared when a crisis of this magnitude presents itself again. In the future, how can the hospitality industry cope with these global threats?
Social distancing has changed the way people move, interact, and do business in this specific industry, which thrives on physical presence. Personal interactions are now kept in check by the fear of contact and infection. Everyone, from your colleagues, staff, and especially your customers, will prioritize their safety and personal hygiene when conducting business. Our old communal practices are now obstructed by the fear of contagion.
While all travel will eventually return, the travelers’ behavior will certainly shift and change. The best tools that can help you in gaining a foothold on this shuffling landscape are all based on the current technology, notably online tools.
Technology as The Middleman
Being a business owner, you can mitigate the negative effects caused by these disruptions by using software application solutions. This is where technology gains a bigger role as your middleman: it helps your business to adjust to this new “normal”.
Should your business remain capable of maintaining expenses for your current technological investments, such as software solutions and website platforms, then purchasing upgrades or acquisition of new tools are still feasible options for you. There are also more budget-friendly alternatives if you are a bit wary of spending your limited finances during these uncertain times.
However, you must understand that investing in these solutions right now is more cost-effective, and will save you more money in the long run. There are certain realizations that you will have to be prepared to face when thinking of how your business will run in the next few months.
If you can invest on online tools right now, here are the top 3 online solutions that can play a crucial role in running your business:
1. Cheaper Online Paid Ads
As lockdowns and limited social interactions remain enforced in several areas locally and around the world, you have a large veritable audience that is mostly online. If you want leads and conversions, digital marketing is now your best channel. This may not be something new, as we’ve previously discussed the importance of digital marketing during a crisis, which you can read in length here, but right now, online ads are cheaper. For instance, Facebook ads cost 11 US cents at the start of 2020 and .
As a lot of small businesses are forcibly put into unfavorable positions, their ability to advertise has also become limited. As fewer businesses pay for advertising, the cost per click (CPC) charged by big advertising networks also goes down. This lack of competition for the inventory may be the best time to invest in your business’ paid ads.
With fewer advertisers, alongside huge online traffic, this is an opportune time for your business to assert its presence.
2. CRM Solutions (Customer Relationship Management)
When you need to bring your team together to collaborate on your marketing and sales strategies, CRM software, especially cloud-based solutions, will prove to be extremely beneficial. These online CRM solutions ensure that you keep marketing, as well as going after sales opportunities even when you and your staff are mobile or even just staying at home.
We’ve previously mentioned how important it is to keep marketing your brand and your services, especially through digital marketing, as well as focusing on your business website. Your website plays a crucial role in keeping your connection with your customers, and integrating it with your CRM solution will give you and your staff more leverage in pursuing customers even in a work-from-home setting.
Collecting information from your website visitors and having it stored directly to your CRM will accomplish the following tasks:
- personnel assigned to follow through with these tasks will be easily tagged and alerted.
- you can avoid the current disruptions and still save important customer data directly into your database.
- centralize all necessary information, keeping everyone on the same page.
Your staff may not be able to do face-to-face meetings, but they can still maintain communication with your customers. A CRM’s automated workflow can ensure that you can have canned or specific responses to any type of inquiry. Incoming emails can be automatically sent to designated personnel, while also being able to reply back to your customers with the perfect message at a particular stage of their “buyers journey”.
CRM solutions are also fully flexible when you need to send out your marketing messages externally or internal collaborative directives. You can send out emails in bulk, or deliver text messages en masse to teams or individuals. Keeping everyone in the loop helps to avoid missing out on vital next steps when contacting your customers or in saving their information.
Business teams can avoid being disrupted by the current circumstances of the pandemic by not letting any data fall through the cracks nor suffering a breakdown in communication. As your business is able to respond promptly and correctly to your website visitors and leads, CRM solutions will also improve customer retention and customer satisfaction.
3. Marketing Analytics
The upfront costs for cloud-based systems are now a lot cheaper with more competition between numerous providers. It is, in fact, the best time to invest in a marketing analytics solution. A lot of businesses may currently be faced with disoriented management and staff, with much of what they know about marketing being suddenly put on the sidelines because of the pandemic. Consider the sudden, abrupt changes in your marketing environment:
- The products that you are marketing and how you are marketing them may now be a lot harder to do so.
- Your target audiences face dire situations where unemployment has stretched their finances, coupled with their fear of leaving home, now demand that you make adjustments on how you communicate or how you craft your marketing messages to them.
- The venues where you usually target your marketing efforts on may now be closed and inaccessible for an unknown period of time. Travel destinations, events places, and the occasional mass gatherings are either closed, cancelled or have made drastic changes. You will now have to focus your efforts online.
You and your marketing team will rely on marketing analytics to come up with necessary insights that will lead to critical, informed, and timely business decisions, now more than ever. Additionally, it can swiftly process all your data into crucial reports and dashboards which are easily shareable. Analytics will be your business’ guiding light in rapidly planning and implementing your marketing campaigns with more understanding of what people need during these times.
You can get more information, plus you can sign up for a free trial for Maralytics here.
Whether you were already planning on specific online or technological investments before the pandemic, or just recently got swayed into thinking of long-term solutions, now may be the best time to expedite your decisions. Mobile and online platforms are easily the best, most accessible investments that can help you operate your business, as well as ensuring that it is future-proof. However, be sure to strike a balance between keeping your staff safe and using online innovations to keep serving your customers. This ongoing crisis should serve as a wakeup call for companies to search for more creative alternatives in doing business, especially using online technology.