COVID19 hits international tourism hard: We don’t know exactly when travel will return. When travel does return, it will look different (as of May 2020). If customers and their needs change, the product, customer experience and marketing must be adapted too. If you want to reopen your restaurant or hotel, it will be vital to increase your sales quickly.

The winners will be companies who digitise their brand ecosystems to stand out from the competition. “Same same” is no longer an option. The customers want “different” and “better”. “Safety and health” are hygienic factors, but do not seduce customers. Digital marketing and a strong customer value proposition pay off more than ever before: “People buy stories from brands they trust.”

In times of turbulence, the problem is not the turbulence itself, but to carry on with yesterday’s “recipes”. The goal must be to increase direct reservations without the middle man, gaining in margin, database and customer proximity. The Direct-to-Consumer approach (D2C) is applicable to the tourism sector. It helps to define a winning formula to better control and plan success (output) by influencing activities of owned platforms, products and services (input):

directly controllable
Direct2Consumer approach 
Output as result of input
Not directly controllable
Classic approach 
Visibility & Online Reputation 
Brand proposition
User Experience Online 
Client experience online & offline 
Leads & Data   
Online Conversion 
Revenue & Margin 
Cost of Acquisition & 3rd parties   
Customer Satisfaction  
Retention & Referral 

Key questions:

What are the most important customer segments and insights? A useful segmentation is based on the needs of each occasion. Mr. Miller’s plans a family holiday, his boys’ weekend trip and workshop in Mallorca. Three occasions, one person. To win Mr. Müller to choose your business, the communication needs to be specific to each occasion. “One size fits all” won’t do it.

Is your brand well positioned online in the changed market environment?  Customers and their behaviour change in 2020: Less travel and less leisure expenses, maybe even less money to spend. A strong brand proposition is key to to sell more. Purely counting on discounts is cutting margins and attracts price-sensitive customers who may never come back. Airbnb’s proposition f.e. is about belonging, priceless experiences that make you feel at home away.

How can you become more efficient with less marketing resources? Efficient marketing can be measured , needs input goals. This makes it quickly adaptable to influence customers from initial contact to repurchase or recommendation. With CRM tools such as Pushtech & Hotelinking, a restaurant or hotel automatically generates missing customer data via Wifi connect, it informs the reception in case of discontent and improves the ranking with ratings from satisfied customers.

How does your database grow and how can you convert it into extra revenue? Data helps to segment valuable customers and create a connect with them via social media, newsletter or website. A unique hotel uses CRM to personally welcoming their guests by their name before they have a chance to introduce themselves. All data concerning reservation, payment, arrival time, client history and preferences from various sources are centralised on the receptionist’s iPad. The check-in happens contactless and very relaxed in the guests’ suite with a cup of their favourite tea.

With a D2C approach, the revenue per customer can also be determined and better forecasted. Those who monitor only total turnover and costs lose customers and turnover potential.

The purpose of a business is to win and keep customers. The more satisfied the customer, the more valuable. In last cases, we have seen growth numbers from +15% to +79% in direct online bookings thanks to the D2C approach. A part came via CRM activities, a part directly or via social media channels. Less than 5-10 % came from paid media (SEA). This shows, that the quality of the traffic is decisive. Those who foster a good online reputation, active social media channels and a website with personal stories, videos, galleries to visualize their customer experience, spend less performance marketing, agency commissions and search marketing expenses per customer. 

Play to your strengths. You don’t need an expensive agency and large media pots. It needs a clear positioning, the right strategic idea and an ecosystem to work. Even with the same tunes, you can create a new melody.

The small wine bar uses Instagram as a menu to present its wines and tapas, accepts requests via WhatsApp or phone, so it stays personal, and uses Paypal or card on his machine or a tokenized payment service. Tips for wine and tapas preparation at home can be shown on IGTV or send via WhatsApp. The more personal the advice, the more turnover is generated by SME owner-operated businesses.

A pizzeria chain like l’osteria could do the same, but here the focus is on a simple ordering process via web or app. In denmark a pizza chain offers solely to order online and to customize your pizza for the same flat price. A login provides necessary data and makes future bookings easy. The focus is on the process of the timely pickup or delivery. The customer decides his pizza (customized). In both cases, wine bar and pizzeria data are generated. But only if the customers’ order directly online and the data flows automatically into a CRM can it be used. There is no time to do this manually. And third-party portals such as, Facebook and tripadvisor use the data for their own purposes.


The Direct-to-Consumer approach orchestrates the individual channels and helps building an owned ecosystem to increase sales and margins. The goal is to attract more retaining customers. How? Centralize customer data, create actionable segments & dialog, automate standards and make them measurable – from initial contact to revenue.

The important thing is to start and expand the ecosystem, iterating with proof of success. The S.H.I.F.T. approach developed by us (see News) helps you to create more data, turnover, margin, growing from season to season – with less uncertainty and dependence on third party portals. Start today.