The entire world today has turned upside down by the COVID-19 outbreak. Earlier this year, hoteliers were planning about their revenue strategies for 2020, searching for the emerging travel trends and more. But, who would’ve imagined that 3 months into this new decade, global travel will be shut down?
Nonetheless, deep down we all are aware that the travel and hotel industry is the most affected one currently. And, we see no sign of hope when people would resume travel.
So, in this blog, we’re going to talk about how to lift your hotel business after COVID19 outbreak.
What is the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry?
The sad reality of COVID19 is that it is spreading quickly and will continue to spread for a while. All the more, not even WHO (World Health Organisation) knows how many people will be infected (or will pass away), or when this will come to an end.
Well, Neil Patel presented the impact of COVID19 on the traffic of various industries. Check the graph below:
Clearly, the impact of COVID19 on the travel, and eventually, the hotel industry is as deadly as the virus. Air travel, transportation, and borders are shut. Bookings have been cancelled, people are continuously asking for a refund and there are no new bookings currently.
Also, the world’s most crowded destinations are now seen as empty. As most of them have postponed their travel plans or are not even thinking about going anywhere for now.
And, the peak seasons have turned out to be the weak ones as the world is under home quarantine.
But, “Success always lies on the other side of the shore.”
So, even if the worst hits you now; stay calm to witness an enriching scenario ahead.
What should hotels do to survive COVID-19?
As we see, economies are going down, people might lose their jobs, businesses might close down and the list of consequences is endless. Even business travelers, for a while, would prefer to have online meetings rather than one-to-one.
So to cope up with these crisis, hotels like you would be taking various steps these days; which look most promising and would help your property survive this crisis in the long run. Some of them would be:
- Implementing cost control
- Adopting technology and automation
- Focusing on staff training
So, now is the best time to stand strong, take suitable measures to lift your hotel business after COVID19 and be ready to welcome your guests again.
Why is it important for hotels to focus on business after COVID-19?
In the current situation, the most important thing is to “survive” and if you are able to do so, you have achieved your milestone of success.
Adding on to this, it is also not a hidden fact that once this gets better, it is going to be even more difficult for you to attract guests to your property again.
And so, it is very important for you to plan for the future of your business.
Hence, by the time this pandemic recedes; you should be well prepared to have your business back on track.
How to lift your hotel business after COVID19 outbreak?
Presently, while you are in home quarantine, it is the best time for you to plan, strategize and prepare yourself for a post COVID-19 era.
We know, it will be more challenging for you to reach out to new guests than to keep current ones. So, if you remain silent now and prefer not to stay in touch with your guests; then surely you’ll be forgotten by the time COVID-19 is under control.
Here are a few things we recommend:
1. Apply low season strategies.
Well, at the beginning of this year, you might have worked on your peak and weak seasons. But, who knew that this year would be a weak season year entirely. And we know it is difficult to achieve full hotel occupancy during such times, but this too will change soon. RIGHT?
For that reason, applying your low season strategies after this pandemic would be the smart thing to do. So, make sure you do this with some creativity.
For example, highlight unique amenities of your hotel, offer competitive promotions, organize events like music concerts (after public gatherings are allowed), food festivals and such likes.
If you plan this correctly, then you will definitely gain profits and stand ahead of your competitors in no time post this phase.
2. Get listed on OTAs.
Your presence is one of the most important things to consider post COVID-19 era. If you are available for your guests where they want, then it is the best and most simple way to get connected with them and enhance your bookings as well.
So, though you might be focusing on reducing your expenses, but it’s the best time to get listed on as many OTAs as possible. Having more OTA connections will help you to generate maximum revenue as well as reach out to more guests.
You must have already been listed on many OTAs. But there’s no harm in getting listed on a few more if they match your property type and get you bookings at a good cost.
Moreover, getting listed isn’t the only important thing. Instead, you should also focus on showcasing the same number of total rooms, star rating, room types, cancellation policy, and check-in and check-out time on all the OTAs.
3. Improve OTA rankings.
Nowadays, it is essential for you to take steps in improving your OTA rankings. Having a good ranking on OTAs will inturn lead your guests to select your property over the others (or your competitors).
Naturally, the better ranking you have on the OTAs, the more bookings you would receive. You cannot ignore this if you want to lift your hotel business after COVID19.
Moreover, the important thing to note is – the process of improving your OTA rankings is a continuous one. You cannot leave it after executing all the required steps just once. You need to constantly analyze the results of your steps, and continue with those that works the best for you.
Your market managers would also be available at such times – so discuss your plans with them, and adopt what you think is the most effective idea.
4. Focus on your online reputation.
Your reviews and ratings would take a center stage more than ever before post COVID19. Are your premises safe and sanitized? Your guests would want to know about it.
So, make sure you closely monitor how your brand is being projected and perceived by existing guests as well as potential guests. Working on your reputation most definitely helps with long term benefits. So, even if you haven’t started with it until now, it is not late to do so.
You can reach out to your past guests to give you reviews online; focusing on the cleanliness part if possible.
Thus, let your guests talk about their stay at your hotel on social platforms. This will ensure safety in the minds of your potential guests that are planning to book with you in the future.
For now, start responding to your reviews which are left unanswered; this will be beneficial to acquire new guests as well.
5. Participate in OTA Promotions.
Well, in the pre-COVID times, until international travel was shut down in most countries; OTAs were running various deals, offers, promotions to promote hotels and acquire bookings.
We understand that this would start (albeit with a fresh approach) after COVID19 recedes. So, this is one thing you should participate in. It will help in increasing your bookings as well as improving your OTA rankings.
Such discounts and free deals on OTAs will make your property preferable over your competitors.
Do keep an eye on updates from OTAs when travelling resumes – they may push out new rules and protocols for promotions or bookings and you’d be able to get a clear idea on what steps to take.
6. Enroll on metasearch engines
Meta search engines help travellers compare hotel room rates on different OTAs; and make a purchasing decision. This is not going to change after COVID-19.
Getting enrolled on metasearch engines will help to drive you more direct bookings, expand your reach and enhance your revenue.
Below are some popular metasearch engines you can enroll into:
- Google Hotel Ads
Moreover, listing on these metasearch engines will not only boost your visibility, but also improve your brand value.
7. Make use of emails.
Email marketing has proved to be one of the best ways to engage and nurture readers.
Currently, you can reach out to your past guests via emails and stay connected with them. This will spread your brand’s awareness among your guests; and post COVID19, they will be nurtured enough to book at your property if they need to.
And, post the crisis, you can focus on emails like your hotel reopening date, special offers, deals, promotions and more.
8. Implement proper rates, discounts and promotions.
Adopting a systematic pricing strategy is the key to get your hotel business on track. So, at present understand and focus on your guests’ conditions.
Post this phase when people resume to travel; the first thing they would prefer is an affordable stay or travel package.
So, be prepared with some effective and reasonable pricing packages and discount deals. This will definitely help your hotel to receive bookings.
You should start acquiring guests at a lower price than what you used to offer previously. Make sure you attract more guests by giving out better deals than what your competitors offer.
We know this would cost you high, but with time it will get your business back on track.
9. Create proper cancellation policies.
A proper and fool-proof cancellation policy is a MUST before rolling out your availability on your website as well as other channels. This is going to be an important factor to get bookings after this outbreak.
Try not to be over flexible and ultra-strict with your policy. Having proper policies can get you more confirmed bookings and even reduce your cancellation ratio.
For example, you can implement a cancellation policy as below:
Cancellation policy (time period) % refund of booking amount
Three months prior arrival 70%
Two months prior arrival 40%
One month prior arrival 20%
10. Start social media marketing.
Social media is the best way to get more bookings, improve brand value as well as connect and attract more guests.
More than 60% of internet users research online before they make a booking or purchase travel plans.
So, it is important for you to be socially active and regularly post about your offers, combo packages, and deals on all your social media profiles. However, if you haven’t been active on these platforms, then now is the best time to start.
Currently, you can post about the steps you are taking to keep your property safe and sanitized. This will definitely help you in the long run when you want to lift your hotel business after COVID19.
11. Optimize website and SEO performance.
While staying at home during this lockdown, your hotel website and SEO is one thing you can start working on. An optimized hotel website can improve your hotels’ ranking and visibility on Google, Yahoo, and other search engines.
As observed, most of your audience lands on your website from the search engines. Hence, focus on appearing at the top of the search engine results. Perform good SEO to improve your website’s performance.
Both these practices provide results in the long term. So, if you execute these now, you’ll be seeing good results by the time COVID19 is over.
12. Train your staff.
Now and even after the COVID-19 era, your staff is the ultimate point of contact for your guests. Thus, it is very essential for you to make them aware and train them for delivering excellent guest experience.
Do this by conducting online training sessions for all your staff. Also, if you are using a hotel technology, get them trained on that as well. This will help you to stay engaged and guide them on ways to improve your hotel operations as well as deliver the best guest experience.
All the more, make a list of all your pending and neglected tasks that you were unable to finish earlier. Start taking them up one by one. Further, communicate with your staff and take ideas from them as well – you might get some good tips in doing so.
13. Ensure proper sanitation and cleanliness.
During or post this outbreak, the first and foremost priority of your guests would be proper hygiene, sanitation, and cleanliness.
For this, do educate your staff about the preventive measures that they should take on your hotel premises. Moreover, sanitize your hotel thoroughly. Install the alcohol-based disinfectant hand rub dispensers at maximum areas of your property.
Also, post the crisis, even when things have settled down, give FREE masks and sanitizers to all your guests as a safety measure; be it at your reception or in the room.
And while doing all of these, highlight about it on your website, social media and every possible link that reaches to your guests.
This will assure your guests a sense of trust in your hotel and make them aware that their stay will be safe and pleasant.
14. Connect with travel agents.
Travel agents are a source of extra income when bookings from OTAs, meta search engines and other such likes don’t work out well. Getting connected with them will not only help in showcasing your presence to your guests’ but will also reap you more reservations.
We are sure you might have been tied up with several travel agents already. However, if you did not consider this as a strategy till now; then it’s time you should! Also, look forward to getting connected to new as well as with inter-country travel agents (those are less impacted with COVID-19).
Inform them about all the sanitation measures taken at your hotel and ensure that they convey the same to your potential clients.
Moreover, prepare a list of the ones that have got you more profits. Make sure you offer them best deals as well as flexible pricing options and eliminate the ones that seem not profit making.
15. Monitor your guests’ travel history.
Well, as you are aware that this deadly virus has affected the world mainly due to international travel and community transmission. And, we are sure you don’t want your hotel to be in the headlines post this era.
So, to assure your guests’ safety, it is your utmost priority to keep a track of your international guests as well as their travel history.
Also, for time being, you can allot separate rooms to your international and local guests or even have separate floors for them. Well, we know you can’t stop them from exploring other areas of your hotel but definitely you can take preventive steps. RIGHT?
Hence, taking such precautionary measures and having a list of such travellers will also help you to keep proper sanitation of that room or area around it.
This will pertain your guests from the fear of getting in contact with the virus and enjoy a scare-free stay at your property. Basically, this is just an added precaution that you can take.