A member of the Relais & Châteaux since 2018, Epoque Hotel (Hotel Epoque) is a hotel located in the Intrarea Aurora region in Bucharest, the capital and the largest city in Romania. Currently, the international and local travel restrictions placed during the Covid-19 pandemic are increasingly relaxing (Gössling et al., 2020). With the measures being removed in many parts of the world, there is an expected increase in international travel. Therefore, the hotel is also seeking to take advantage of the expected increase in tourism. As such, this implies that the hotel needs a new marketing plan to ensure that it attracts customers to its business after the end of the global pandemic (Hall et al., 2017). Based on this view, the purpose of this marketing plan is to provide the company with a comprehensive strategy of how to achieve this objective and increase its sales during the period.
Product – Epoque Hotel is a company that specializes in hospitality and allied products and services, including food, beverages, accommodation, and leisure. The hotel’s leisure services include fitness, biking, children’s games, fun, swimming, wellness and massages, sauna, SPA, and guided tours.
Price – The pricing strategy at Epoque Hotel depends on the products and services sought. However, the hotel states that it seeks to provide affordable services to its customers as it targets local and international tourists. The company competes with others in the same category as they seek to tap into the growing demand for tourism and hospitality services and products in eastern Europe.
Place – Epoque Hotel is specifically located in the central Bucharest area and close to historical and iconic features in the city. Such features include the Cismigiu Park and the Romanian Athenaeum and opera. In this area, the city attracts thousands of local and international tourists as people flock to visit Bucharest. This city, known as ‘Paris of the East or ‘Little Paris,’ has various iconic buildings with elegant architecture and sophisticated designs, which form the major tourist attractions in the country.
Promotion – This plan seeks to establish a promotion strategy that will include appeal to the target audience across social platforms, collaborations with social influencers, and a focus on seasonal promotions.
The Marketing Environment (Micro-SWOT)
Strengths– Epoque Hotel is a well-established business that has been in existence since the 1990s with an existing customer base. It is worth noting that the business is now a member of the Relais & Châteaux, an association of luxury hotels and restaurants with strict admission standards (Seraphin et al., 2018). These standards ensure that the company provides the best possible services to its customers (Koens et al., 2018). In addition, the location of the facility in the central part of Bucharest means that it is easily recognizable and reachable for local and foreign visitors. Third, the hotel’s location close to some of the most iconic buildings in the city gives it a competitive advantage because these features are the primary tourist attractions.
Weaknesses– although being a member of the Relais & Châteaux means that it provides renowned standards of quality, it is also a disadvantage in that its prices are predetermined and customers cannot negotiate. Therefore, competitors are likely to offer negotiable products and services since they are flexible, which can reduce Epoque’s number of visitors (Firoiu et al., 2019). In the same manner, the central location of the hotel means that people who want to avoid the noisy part of the city will also keep away from the business. They are likely to seek accommodation in quiet, serene, and comfortable areas outside the central business area.
Opportunities– The fact that the global tourism industry is opening up after a long period of closure due to restrictions in the Covid-19 pandemic era means that the number of visitors in Bucharest will increase. Epoque should take advantage of the situation and establish an effective strategy to attract more customers in the coming years after the end of the pandemic (Cappochi, 2019). In addition, the company has a strong presence on social media and other online platforms, which means that it can use them to lure more customers in the foreseeable period.
Threats– Epoque provides luxury products and services that have few competitors. However, it faces a major threat in its marketing strategy. In this case, other competitors are increasingly using social medial platforms to entice international travelers. This implies that there is a real threat of new entrants in the market through online presence, which is a relatively new and growing platform for business.
The Marketing environment (Macro) PESTEL
Policies- Many countries across the world, including Romania, are easing the restrictions on traveling following a decline in the number of new Covid-19 virus infections. New policies are set to emerge that can have impacts on the hospitality industry and hotels. In this case, the relaxed policies mean more visitors coming to Bucharest, which in turn implies more customers and sales for Epoque (OECD, 2020). Nevertheless, the danger is still uncontained, given the frequent genetic shift and mutations of the Covid-19 virus such as the emergence of Delta and Omicron varieties in the recent few months. Such events might lead to extended travel restrictions, which can reduce the number of visitors coming to Romania.
Economy– The economy of Romania has been among the fastest growing in Europe. However, the Covid-19 pandemic affected the economy, which recorded an annual growth rate of -3.9% in 2020 (Ardeljan et al., 2020). Similarly, the country’s hospitality industry had an annual growth rate of over 5% by 2019 but reduced to less than -28% in the 2020 financial year due to the outbreak (Durkee, 2020). However, with the end of the pandemic, it is expected that the economy and the hospitality industry will increase in annual growth rates.
Technology– The modern global hospitality industry is highly dependent on technology, especially in terms of marketing. Specifically, the Internet and communication technology have greatly affected the industry as many companies and other players use online platforms such as social media to market their products. In addition, many people use the same technologies to acquire information related to the products and services, and trends in the sector (Gretzel et al., 2020). In the post-pandemic era, the use of these technologies may escalate as more potential travelers search for information related to the products and services in other countries and locations before deciding to travel.
Social– Romania is a European nation whose many social factors are influenced by European traditions and cultures. For instance, the society is generally welcoming and foreigners are free to travel and visit various parts of the country without restrictions.
Legal– The legal aspects of Romania that affect tourism are largely shaped by the regulations under the European Union (EU). Romania formally joined the EU in 2007 and since then, it has implemented many laws and regulations as required by the body. For example, the Lisbon Treaty applies in this case as it requires the hospitality industry to ensure that all activities are compatible with the environmental protection laws of the EU (Dodds & Butler, 2019). As an example, Epoque is supposed to ensure that it does not produce excessive carbon emissions in its food processing and preparations, which means that it must acquire technologies to reduce emissions.
Environmental– Romania is located in eastern Europe and has a temperate continental climate that allows travel during summer when temperatures rise. During this period, the number of local and international tourists increase and hotels recorded increased bookings and sales (Marin-Pantelescu, 2017). In the 2022 fiscal year, it is expected that the summer period will attract many travelers, especially from the EU, Russia, and North America after the end of the pandemic and global travel restrictions.
Creating Customer Value & Engagement
As a luxury hotel, Epoque’s main customers are both local and international tourists, business people, politicians, and other groups with the ability to purchase the services. Specifically, international tourists make an important and largest customer segment for the company. Therefore, it is easy to use social media and Internet technology to find out what the customers want and demand. In the post-pandemic era, many customers are expected to use online platforms to search for information about destinations that are safe, affordable, and easy to travel to (McKinsey & Comp, 2020). In this case, it is Epoque Hotel that will establish a strong and effective social media and online presence to communicate with customers and engage them as a means of promoting its services.
With social media and the Internet, it is possible to engage customers by directly asking them about their needs and preferences (UNWTO, 2020). In addition, the hotel will use the same platforms to conduct simple but effective surveys to help understand their needs and preferences. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, TikTok, Linkedin, and many other social media platforms are present and readily available for use by hotels in Romania. In addition, the hotel has an already-established website that can help engage and inform customers about its products and services in the post-pandemic era.
Effective Using Digital Marketing
In the modern world where technology provides all organizations with an opportunity to use as many avenues as possible to engage customers, companies need to diversify their online presence. Therefore, Epoque Hotel will use multiple online and social sites. The plan is to improve the company’s presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, TikTok, LinkedIn, and many other social media platforms (Chang & Wu, 2021). In addition, the hotel has an already-established website that can help engage and inform customers about its products and services in the post-pandemic era. Based on this recommendation, the plan is to enhance the existing information and technology department by including social influencers and technicians that will work as a team. The function of the department is to strengthen and enhance the company’s website and synchronize it with social media outlets.
In addition, the hotel will establish customized Applications ready for customers to visit and download on their computers and mobile gadgets from Google Apps and Apple’s App Store. In this way, these avenues will enhance Epoque’s marketing strategy and reach more people across the world. With these technologies, the company will advertise its products and services and engage people to understand market dynamics and the possible trends in the future.
Based on this pan, it is evident that Epoque Hotel has the opportunity to improve its marketing strategies. The idea is to take the advantage of the prospectus of global tourism and hospitality industries that will increase international travel in the foreseeable future.
Nevertheless, this marketing plan is not conclusive because the hotel is yet to conduct a comprehensive review of the current market trends, especially after Romania and the EU relaxed their travel restrictions. Therefore, there is a need for further studies on the current and expected trends in the global and European hospitality industries. In addition, the company must consider the impacts of a possible period of further travel restrictions, given that new variants of the Covid-19 virus are emerging with time. In this case, this plan recommends that the company embark on a strategy to attract local customers as part of its survival strategy in case of future travel restrictions.