Tips for short and long-term marketing planning

By Georgia Ward

With the ever-changing government restrictions and consumer priorities affecting travel, many hospitality businesses are finding it challenging to develop marketing plans and set goals for the future. Many are choosing to cut marketing spend and reduce activities, as it is not seen as a priority. 

As a company navigates these short-term changes, marketing actually becomes more important than ever. Reducing or stopping activities that can help grow a business can put companies in a worse position than at the beginning of the first UK lockdown and can cause a slow growth in the post-pandemic world.  

To support you with developing your short and long-term marketing plans for next year, the hospitality marketing experts at Custard have rounded up their top tips: 


Understand your current booking lead times  Businesses who are looking to develop an agile short-term plan must have a clear understanding of the lead times and types of bookings they are receiving. For example, at the moment the average lead times for hotel bookings are 31 days in the UK, 28 days in Ireland and just 17 days for the US. These lead times will have an impact on when and how you market your availability, so if you know your average booking lead time is two weeks, promoting autumn stays in January potentially may not drive results for your business. Keep your website up to date with your current rates, availability and cancellation policy to assure prospective guests browsing on your website that you are able to accommodate their stay.  

Build upon your adapted offering – Since the start of the pandemic, hospitality businesses have needed to drastically adapt their offering and provide new opportunities to engage their audiences, whether through a takeaway service, virtual meeting offering, gift vouchers, hamper deliveries or online masterclasses. These activities provide a way of showcasing expertise and offering, whether the property is open or notdepending on the region’s COVID-19 restrictions. If it is feasible to continue to deliver them, even in a small capacity, when the business reopens, you will provide a consistent interaction with your audience and build upon your existing platform. 


Don’t neglect your marketing strategy  In their book Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works, A.G. Lafley and Roger Martin say: “Not only is strategy possible in times of tumultuous change, but it can be a competitive advantage and a source of significant value creation.” 

Although it may seem like it’s hard to predict what is happening tomorrow, let alone next year, it is vital for businesses to know where they want to go and how they are going to get there. Having the experience of this year, approach your 2021 strategy with an agile mindset and map out your key goals for your brand, whether they are to increase your market share, reposition your brand or reach a new audience. Unforeseen circumstances may change the tactics you use, but the overall strategy should be in place to provide you with an outline of the journey you will take to achieve your goals. 

Relate marketing value to cash flow – Similarly with your marketing strategy, now is the time to be analysing the budget you have available and how best to allocate it. With the ongoing COVID-19 challenges affecting the industry, budgets will no doubt be tightened for 2021, however, a small pot is better than none.  

In a recent blog, we shared how relating your marketing value to cash flow can be an efficient way of understanding the tangible results driven by your marketing activity and, in turn, enables you to drill down to the ROI of the marketing spend. This process will support you in allocating sufficient resources to support the businesses’ promotional efforts over the next 12 months. Click here to read the blog in full.  

If you are unsure how to develop your marketing strategy and plan for next year, speak to a member of the Custard team today to find out how we can execute an integrated marketing and PR strategy for your hospitality business.