Stay top of mind

Under the current difficult situation, should we stop all marketing activities? I have this question in the past few weeks. And, I haven’t had the time to answer it. So, I try to answer this question today.

One thing for sure, we should stop all promotional activities. It’s disrespectful to our customers and to the situation to do promotions right now. We should save marketing spends until the situation is back to normal.

However, we should not disappear from our customers. We should ‘stay on top of mind’ and make ourselves useful. We should engage with customers by

  • offering updates about the situation
  • providing tips that add value to their daily life
  • entertaining them in an appropriate way
  • keeping them dreaming about the world after the crisis passes

That’s what we should do.



What would be the world after Coronavirus is under control? What would the recovery look like? How long would it take for the hospitality industry to go back to normal?

First of all, economic downturn would be inevitable. People lost their jobs and companies need times to recover. Purchasing power would drop in the next 3 to 6 months. Consumers would be cautious about their spend and their health. Young people would start spending before older people.

Holiday is considered a luxury product. It’s not necessary to have holidays. It would take a bit longer for consumers to put holidays in their priority list. There would be a lot of super cheap deals from hotels, airlines, and travel agents in the market. Margin would be very slim. Profitability would be thin.

Hospitality industry is weak in branding. OTAs have set the scene to drive the price down. There would be a massive price war in the market.

I believe in creating a minimum viable audience, an ecosystem. This strategy has our true customers in the system. People who care about our product and see our product as their life’s solution. It’s the only way to win the price war.


Positive development about the coronavirus situation

As I said yesterday, I tell myself everyday that things will get better and my brain should believe by next week. I would like to share some positive development about the virus situation. I got this information from one of my respected PR agencies. Her name is Greer Quinn.

How about some good news, courtesy of Bloomberg News? 

  • China has closed down its last oronavirus hospital. Not enough new cases to support them.
  • Doctors in India have been successful in treating Coronavirus. Combination of drugs used: Lopinavir, Retonovir, Oseltamivir along with Chlorphenamine. They are going to suggest same medicine, globally.
  • Researchers of the Erasmus Medical Center claim to have found an antibody against coronavirus.
  • A 103-year-old Chinese grandmother has made a full recovery from COVID-19 after being treated for six days in Wuhan, China.
  • Apple reopens all 42 China stores.
  • Cleveland Clinic developed a COVID-19 test that gives results in hours, not days.
  • Good news from South Korea, where the number of new cases is declining.
  • Italy is hit hard, experts say, only because they have the oldest population in Europe.
  • Scientists in Israel likely to announce the development of a coronavirus vaccine.
  • Three Maryland coronavirus patients fully recovered; able to return to everyday life.
  • A network of Canadian scientists are making excellent progress in COVID-19 research.
  • A San Diego biotech company is developing a COVID-19 vaccine in collaboration with Duke University and National University of Singapore.
  • Tulsa County’s first positive COVID-19 case has recovered. This individual has had two negative tests, which is the indicator of recovery.
  • All seven patients who were getting treated for at Safdarjung hospital in New Delhi have recovered.


Advice for marketers under the current circumstance

I am sure we have the same feeling about the current situation. But, in the end, it will definitely get better. The virus will eventually become another type of flu. Life will go on. It will get worse before it gets better. The best course of action is then to plan what to do during this situation.

We all will enter the down times. No one know how long it’s going to be. My personal, no-reason guess is by 1 July 2020. It would mean anything could happen between now and 30 June. The following is my plan of what to do. I split the plan into 2 phases – down time & recovery time.

During the down time, what you and I should do are the following:

  • Stay positive and optimistic. It’s hard but we have to do our best to stay positive. It will get better. If you tell yourself everyday (that things will get better), you brain will believe you.
  • Prepare for the worst but hope for the best. What is the worst thing that could happen? Prepare for that scenario with your solution. What need to be down if it happens.
  • Show our leadership quality. We need to stay calm and we have to help people around us to feel positive and confident.
  • Continue developing our skill sets. There is no better time than this to improve your skill sets. Recovery time will come quicker than you think. What would the world look like after the virus is under control? How would it change consumer behavior? Can we still do the same marketing strategy and tactics?

What to do in the recovery time? I haven’t thought it through yet. I will think about it and will share with you later.


In the crisis

It’s hard to believe what has happened to our world today. The virus situation impacts everyone and every business. Hotels got lots of cancellations. People hold on to their holiday plans. Some people are in a panic mode stocking up everything.

I am of the view that things will get better soon. I don’t scientific evidence to back me up only a gut feeling. We should see a positive light from July onwards. What I’d like to encourage all of us to do is to share positive news and to share encouragement, to share hope.

From a business perspective, there are 2 suggestions to choose from. Firstly, we should have promotions to encourage people to spend. And, the other suggestion is safe the money as the return wouldn’t be worth the investment. I did the first suggestion and the result was in line with the second suggestion. Unfortunately, I cannot stay still and wait.

I will keep on trying, Winston Churchill once said “If you are going to hell, keep going”. At least this situation is not as bad as going through hell. That’s good news.


What is your experience with chatbot?

Air Asia cancelled one of my flights last night. They emailed me a notification with a few options of what I could do. Interestingly, all options have a call to action to interact with “Ava”, a chatbot.

I spent in a total of 4 hours chatting (not really a chat) with Ava. I got sucked into a loop of being asked to provide the same information like booking number, first name, last name, email address, etc. I typed this information multiple times. And, in the end, she, Ava, couldn’t help me. So, she referred me to talk to her Allstar coworkers. I spent another 2 hours waiting to connect to her coworkers. I ended up giving up, making a new flight booking, getting charged twice, and finally getting to Ava again asking for a refund.

Frustrated? Of course. I am not sure why I am not angry. If the above experience was over the phone, I might be very angry. Could this be a new way of managing customer expectation? Ava wouldn’t be offended as I ended up typing – Ava, you are hopeless. I didn’t feel guilty later.

It will talk a while before the chatbot technology can function 100% properly. I just lost 6 hours of my life getting to know her. Unfortunately, she knows more about me but I don’t know anything about her.

Thanks Ava.


How to find your passion

Do you know what your passion in life is? Do you feel you couldn’t wait until the morning to come to work? Many people don’t know what their passion is.

You don’t find your passion, you build it. It is a discovery process, not a match made in heaven.

If you haven’t found your passion yet, you haven’t explored enough. To explore, you need courage. With courage, you try new things.

Are you afraid of trying new things?


Time will cure everything

This year has been very difficult for all of us. We started the year with bushfires which was the worst I’ve even seen. Then, there was flooding. The major one is the virus. We have witnessed great, dedicated people who work to help others. And, we have seen selfish people who just think about themselves. Human could be very selfish.

This year will be tough for everyone. Please plan your life carefully. Be careful but don’t be panicked. Life will go on and things will get better. This reminds me a quote I read a few years ago.

Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.


Help people the best you can. It will get better.


Sales performance question

I asked myself this question yesterday. What should sales performance depend on? In some companies, different sales persons have different levels of importance. The good ones make a lot of money and become indispensable. When they are away, the overall performance drops. In this case, the sales performance depends very much on individual sales person’s talents/skills.

What if sales performance depends on a product? What does that mean? Is it possible? It means either you don’t have to sell or anyone can sell. It means we need to create demand by showing to the “right” customers that the product can solve their problems.

Apple products don’t require a sales representative. Google has a sales team calling customers to ‘help’ using its services. My perception about Google changed a little when I got those sales calls. It came across quite needy.

So, the question is how we can reach the point where our sales performance depends more on a product not an individual sales person.


How to prioritise

We are very busy. We cannot do everything. There are a lot to do. And, I don’t have time to do this for you.

I never say the last sentence. This is because you always have times for things that are important to you. If I say that to anyone, it means he/she is not important to me. The easiest solution is to add the word ‘now’. I don’t have time to do it for you now. Is tomorrow ok?

How about prioritisation? To prioritise, you need a clear goal. Will this thing move me closer to my goal? Which option is more likely to get me closer to my goal? What is the most impactful thing I could do to move closer to my goal? Without the clear goal, you just choose to do things base either on doing a favor to please people or just taking orders. You will be super busy but end up feeling achieving nothing.

In a professional life, you don’t come to work to please everyone or to be everything to everyone. It’s not possible. Setup a clear goal to add meaning to your career.