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Navigating COVID-19 border restrictions: How two Macau hotels drove local bookings with creative marketing.

As hotels navigate local lockdowns and travel restrictions, we hear about an unexpected opportunity to drive direct bookings in the domestic market.

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When the government called for support in March this year, the team at Grand Lapa Macau and Grand Coloane Resort felt it was their social responsibility to temporarily pause their normal operations and provide COVID-19 medical observation venues.

While there was initially some concern that this might cause negative publicity for the hotels, what they found was an unexpected opportunity to reconnect with their local community.

When normal hotel operations resumed, border restrictions were still in place so the team focussed on driving direct bookings within their domestic market using staycation packages, local media coverage, social campaigns and word of mouth.

As hotels around the world are continuing to navigate local lockdowns and changing travel restrictions, we asked Donie Llenado, Director of Revenue and Reservations at Grand Lapa Macau, to share their innovative approach to driving direct bookings locally.


How have you used local marketing tactics in your response to the impact of COVID-19?

Donie Llenado: Our normal hotel operations resumed in mid-April, but as border restrictions were still in place we had to focus our strategy on the domestic market. Building on the community connection that was established while the hotel served as a quarantine facility, our ‘Love Macau, Like us’ campaign was launched with exclusive offers for local residents both for our rooms and for food and beverage.

We promoted the campaign on the website, on Facebook and via emails. We also worked with local media, online magazines and key opinion leaders to maximize exposure. This created powerful word of mouth advertising for the hotels.


GLM media outreach

The team invested time in highlighting their domestic marketing campaign to local media, creating word of mouth advertising in the community they were aiming to reach.



The team also leveraged government initiatives such as the subsidy (in the form of an e-card) provided to local residents. This was capped at a certain amount per day so we developed tailor-made offers to fit the maximum daily spend set for the e-cards, both in our rooms and on food and beverage deals.


Three Facebook posts shared as part of Grand Lapa Macau’s ‘Love Macau, Like us’ campaign
Facebook posts shared as part of Grand Lapa Macau’s ‘Love Macau, Like us’ campaign.



What offers have worked well with your local market? Did anything surprise you?

The room and breakfast option was the most popular but we’ve also seen demand for packages offering various experiences such as our ‘Family Camp’ that includes accommodation, a picnic basket and a tent set-up in the room. In the summer we rolled out ‘Island BBQ’ packages with Grand Coloane providing an Indonesian/Bali themed BBQ dinner while Grand Lapa was doing a Southeast Asian themed BBQ.


How are you approaching revenue management during this time? What data are you using to make rate decisions?

We still use the same principles of revenue management except now demand is lower than it was. A price war was inevitable with the limited demand and a massive supply of rooms in the region - ADR had to take a hit but the hotel team continues to think outside of the box in order to keep or even exceed our market share.

For example we have Staycation packages for families that focus on experiences such as Summer Camp for kids, as well as our Balinese and Southeast Asian inspired BBQ events. We also provide a range of value-add offers such as picnic packages and activities for children, or a 9am early check in and 6pm late check out. These offers are exclusive to the domestic market so we fenced the rate on our website with a promotional code. But we then needed to make the offer more visible - aside from having it in the offers page of our website - so we used Triptease tools like Nudge Messages to highlight the promotions.


Three Triptease Nudge Messages highlighting Grand Lapa Macau and Grand Coloane Resorts domestic travel offers
Triptease Nudge Messages were used on the hotel website to highlight campaigns to the domestic market. Offers were tailored to fit the maximum daily spend set for the government subsidised e-cards available to local residents.



Before summer started we also observed that the day of week pattern at Grand Lapa was flat - there was no difference in demand for weekdays or weekends. So we waived the weekend surcharge in the earlier months of the lockdown. Our other hotel, Grand Coloane (which is located on the beach) has stronger weekend demand so we had an opportunity to yield during weekends while we focused on building occupancy during weekdays. This allowed us to hit a record breaking revenue generating index during the summer.

Historical data is no longer as reliable for revenue management because of COVID-19, so we look at previous weeks (instead of the previous year’s data) when we do our forecast. We also refer to our online partner’s analytics platform to identify any significant changes in search traffic to Macau.

Being proactive is still key but a reactive approach is just important these days, especially as border restrictions are still changing from time to time.


What have you learned during COVID-19 that you will continue to implement in future?

Our team has been more active than ever in terms of digital marketing. The response to our social media campaign was instantaneous.

We also explored various voucher selling strategies, which was something that we had not been doing in the past but we got to test its effectiveness during this time. This has been quite successful for us too and it’s something that we will consider doing even after COVID-19.

A Triptease Full Screen Message highlighting a ‘Buy Now, Stay Later’ advanced purchase voucher offer
A Triptease Full Screen Message highlighting Grand Lapa Macau's ‘Buy Now, Stay Later’ advanced purchase voucher offer.



What advice would you give to other hoteliers who need to adapt their hotel strategy to target their local market?

Exclusive offers have an appeal to the local market and this does not necessarily mean plain discounting. Value-add offers and selling experiences - like our guests being able to watch and smell our spit roast pork during BBQ night - made our guests feel that they are on real vacation outside of Macau. And finally, as in the past, we have to monitor and measure the performance of our strategies and be able to make quick adjustments as needed.

Want to know more about Triptease Targeted Messages?

Interested in boosting your direct bookings with Targeted Messages? Contact us here to request a demo or find out more!

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