The hospitality industry was one of the first and the most adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing measures, the dramatic drop in international tourism, and the fall in domestic leisure travel hit hotels, motels, and homestays particularly hard.
The unlock has been kinder to hotels and motels in smaller, “weekend” destinations with many people preferring them to tourist hotspots.
But the big question now is: how can hotels and homestays adapt themselves to the “new normal”?
1. Ensure a user-friendly website
Your hotel’s website is the first place where guests look for information. It’s available 24X7, and it’s important that it is presented in an attractive and easy manner.
The photos should be gorgeous enough for people to want to come and stay, and navigating the page should be simple and intuitive.
The whole idea should be to help the customer get a better understanding of your property, the staff, the facilities, and services and lead to the end goal: optimising the booking process.
2. Understand the power of mobile bookings
In these days, when the mobile phone seems to be an extension of our hand, it’s impossible to ignore the power it wields when it comes to mobile bookings.
Most mobile bookings are usually last-minute – 60% of mobile hotel bookings happen within 24 hours of a stay. It’s been noted that millennials tend to book more via mobile and demand high mobile-friendliness.
Most people who are looking at hotel options on their mobile are usually looking for deals, so it’s important to keep that in mind. Ensure that your website design is mobile-friendly.
Build a responsive website by considering a smartphone screen is all you have to fit in all necessary information and keep navigation simple.
Use lots of attractive visuals, make the buttons easy to click, and ensure easy scrolling. Opt for a responsive website that loads quickly – time is vital when making last-minute bookings.
3. Sanitise, sanitise, sanitise
The first – and most important – concern that the pandemic has brought is related to hygiene. Will the hotel be clean? Will my stay be safe? Do I need to take any precautions?
Show your guests that you have their safety in mind by focusing on hygiene and sanitisation. Make sure hand sanitisers, gloves, and masks are available and accessible to all – guests and staff.
Don’t miss anything that can increase health and cleaning standards – regular surface cleaning in rooms and public areas, food safety, regular washdowns of outdoor furniture, and using UV lightboxes to sanitise keys and other devices.
4. Set the right pricing at the right time
The tariff plays an extremely important role in growing your hotel business. The competition in the sector is huge – with homestays, B&Bs, motels, and more competing with starred hotels.
This makes it essential to plan your inventory pricing to attract more guests. It’s vital to ensure flexible pricing of your inventory and keep seasons and occupancy in mind. Also, don’t forget to watch out for what your competition is doing when you are working out your tariffs.
5. Ensure social distancing
This year added a new phrase to our dictionary: social distancing. We may now be inching closer to a vaccine, but social distancing is here to stay, especially in public places like hotels.
Ensure that your hotel is social distancing friendly by rearranging public spaces swimming pools, dining areas, and common areas.
Restructure these for small groups, if need be. Work on other must-haves such as contactless room service, single-use service ware, UV sanitisation boxes in public areas, and apps that allow check-ins and check-outs.
6. Promote on every online channel
You may have a digital presence, but it’s necessary to tap it to grow your business. Update your website with all the health and safety measures you’ve implemented – this works well by adding a banner on top that leads to a dedicated landing page.
Communicate with your old guests and welcome new ones by communicating how you have changed – send newsletters or post on social media how you will ensure guest comfort and safety.
Target potential guests based on their location and interest with social media campaigns and small giveaways. Working with influencers and running a small contest can also create a buzz.
Encourage customers to visit you by announcing loyalty programmes and providing special offers, room upgrades, a bottle of wine or a birthday cake, and more.
7. Stay flexible and ask for feedback
One of the biggest concerns in the tourism industry due to coronavirus has been uncertainty. This makes it essential for you to stay flexible as you ready to welcome guests again.
Change your cancellation policy to give potential guests peace of mind when booking. Giving them credits when they cancel will ensure that they come back some other day if they have to cancel their bookings.
Make sure you provide door-to-door transportation so that guests don’t need to look for public transport. Once the guests are with you, be handy with advice and share how you are prepared for the new normal.
Take all feedback – good and bad – and incorporate it into your hotel’s running to improve your services. This is sure to generate positive word of mouth, leading to growth in numbers.
Let Boost 360 help you get online and ready for the new normal.