With the pandemic serving as a catalyst for reinvention and digitalisation in the hospitality industry, live-streaming has, for some Chinese hoteliers, evolved into more than an alternative sales tool amid the travel slump.
With travel and mobility restrictions in place, Chinese hotel players turned to various online marketing methods, including cloud tourism, live-streaming, and selling vouchers that can be used to redeem future stays. These methods have become the impetus for hotel industry recovery in China, shared Tyrone Tang, CEO, Shimao Star Hotels Group.
Besides harnessing new media, industry players also employed low pricing strategies to obtain much needed cash flow and keep their brands and properties top-of-mind, he observed.
However, moving forward, Tang reckoned that any sales momentum and short-term recovery garnered by price cuts has to be supported by corporate structure changes and long-term marketing strategies, including product transformation that leverages the hotel’s USP and competitive advantage. Live-streaming could be harnessed as part of such product and business transformation in the long-term.
While hotel players may be concerned about striking a balance between their brand image and boosting live-streaming sales, Tang remarked that the two are not mutually exclusive.
Shimao Hotels and Resorts, for instance, has adopted a bigger picture view of live-streaming where the marketing channel becomes more than a platform to sell specific products and is incorporated as part of its overall branding process. They tapped on Ctrip’s popular BOSS Live Stream platform on three occasions to present curated, signature products.
Tang also reckoned that the rise of live-streaming may drive many hotels to allocate resources towards creating current bestsellers or products of the moment to drive up sales.
However, he stressed, hoteliers who make an effort to find out customers’ expectations and consequently refine their products and services, are those who will organically come up with best-sellers.
Live-streaming, if effectively harnessed, can prove a powerful tool to bring well-crafted products to audiences. Only by identifying customers’ expectations can brands and properties come up with products in step with the target audience, existing market demand and the current consumer landscape, he shared. Products that meet these requirements can then become best-sellers of the moment when sold at the right timing, under the right market conditions and through the right platform.
This will also pave the way for the product to not just sell well on one occasion but become consistent best-sellers – a more accurate measure of successful marketing via live-streaming.
As such, he advised hotel players not to simply come up with crude or simplistic marketing messages, but to think out of the box to develop a story and content based upon their brand’s or property’s differentiating factors and work to communicate this through live-streaming.
While hotel players might look to move away from price lures as pandemic conditions stabilise, selling products via live-streaming inevitably leads to price comparison, acknowledged Tang.
Hence, it remains pertinent for hotel players to work on their pricing strategy. Another means of attracting customers on live-streaming is creating value-added products, such as add-ons, and exclusive or limited-edition products to spur customers to make the purchase.
Additionally, reliability remains a significant factor in ensuring effective marketing via live-streaming in light of the pandemic, said Tang. This means ensuring customers receive their purchases as promised and that their health and safety is carefully considered, he remarked.
As travellers become more discerning, and their demands more refined, hoteliers who harness live-streaming effectively and whose products become best-sellers due to their inherent quality will receive a boost in brand image and word-of-mouth publicity, reckoned Tang.
With this in mind, he added, hotel players should work towards offering personalisation, as well as differentiated products and services, in order to gain first-mover advantage.
– Translated by Angela Teo; this article was first published in TTG China