The travel industry has been among the hardest hit during the pandemic. But as signs of recovery pop up—lockdowns lifting, and cities and countries entering new phases of reopening—we’ve received a lot of questions from our hotel partners about how to think through and approach “the new normal.” So we pulled together resources, ideas, and best practices to help inspire your recovery efforts. In Part 1, we will look at how to build a solid foundation to better position yourself for recovery. In Part 2, we will deep dive into digital strategies and effective marketing tactics to come out stronger on the other side.
Build Your COVID-19 Response Plan
Guests will want to be reassured that their safety and comfort is your top priority. Adopt and adapt the newest in cleanliness practices and standards based on your county and city guidelines. It’s time to reassess your touchpoints, rethink room amenities, brainstorm ways to limit close human contact and promote social distancing in common areas. How you respond to the pandemic will paint a clear picture for your customers about how much you care for their safety and comfort.
Communicate Your COVID-19 Response Plan
Ok, let’s be honest: putting an action plan in place is just half of the battle. Communicating the plan to your community, staff, and potential guests is the second half. Visitors will likely do research and have questions about your response plan and safety standards before booking a room.
Here’s where your website will play a critical role in informing customers about all the work that you have done to address their concerns. If you haven’t invested in a good website up until now, it’s time to rethink that strategy. You cannot just rely on OTAs for your bookings, especially now, since you need to control and communicate your new standards and safety measures. Also, with OTAs not passing on the customer information to you, it will be difficult, in this crucial time, to communicate directly with that guest to ensure that booking turns into a stay.
Use the following tips to build their confidence in your brand:
- Add specifics about everything you are doing to ensure customer safety at the forefront.
- Add details about what you are doing to protect and train your employees and staff.
- Upload short videos to showcase your new standards and safety measures.
- Promote how potential guests can communicate and get in touch with you in case of any questions.
- Don’t forget to update your cancellation policies to meet their evolving expectations.
Identify and Understand Your Customers
Start by deep diving into your website and social media analytics to see historical trends, learn about your guests, and uncover actionable insights. What do customers like about your property? What is your value proposition? Does it still hold strong in today’s times?
People will appreciate different things today than what they did yesterday. Be prepared to shift your USPs (Unique Selling Proposition) with the changing needs and times. For example, a touchless check-in experience or to-go breakfast burritos will be more appealing than free breakfast buffets. Make sure to highlight your differentiators in your outreach strategy and creative assets. Define your ideal customer segments: Who is your target audience? What markets do you attract? Once you understand the defining characteristics of your existing customer base, you can customize your outreach efforts to go after more people who fit the same mold.
We’ve heard it numerous times of late, we’re in unprecedented times. What this can mean is that what used to work, or what we used to know about ourselves (our unique value proposition or brand) and our ideal customer is up for re-evaluation. Take this time to get educated on the latest CDC recommendations for cleaning, what others in the industry are doing, and digging into your own data to determine the best path forward for your property.
Once you have your response plan sorted, website optimized with updated communications, and have aligned your key messages, we will help you think through an effective outreach strategy to get your story out to the world in Part 2 of our COVID-19 Recovery Toolkit series.