In times of such uncertainty that we’re currently living in, hotel managers and AirBnB owners need to adapt themselves (and their businesses) to new needs. The travel industry is paused and hospitality is not an exception.
If on one hand, it’s important to find sustainable ways to maintain your hotel’s operation and to manage resources, it’s equally essential to understand which approach will put you back on track of your guests’ radar. What you’ve considered before as a nice-to-have, at the moment is crucial. Yes, I’m talking about the digital world. So keep reading: it's time to put hands down to work.
Focus on what your guests want and need
Take this time to reflect on what defines your brand identity. Pay attention to your guests’ feedback. Do some research on what they clearly express as their wishes and new upcoming needs. If your guests are trying to understand if it’s safe to keep their bookings at your accommodation, explain to them that your housekeeping & cleaning staff is well trained and which measures you’ll be taking to ensure they’re able to enjoy a relaxed and safe stay.
Also, don’t forget that once the severe measures of confinement end, your guests will be looking forward to celebrating outdoor life. So whether it’s a catered picnic in the countryside, a horse ride experience or even a traditional lunch in the vineyards, make sure you go along with what they really value.
Use social media in an intentional way
Now that you have in mind what makes your accommodation unique, it’s time to spread the word. Due to a globalized quarantine, people are spending 40% more time on social media. So, if you haven’t been very active so far, now, more than ever, it’s time to embrace it.
From Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest, choose at least 2 platforms where your ideal customer is. Start posting inspiring content that communicates your brand identity and make your potential guests dream of an invigorating getaway. Set up your hotel’s breakfast table and highlight your most fresh and delicious ingredients. Invite people to daydream with that special morning meal that awaits them.
Select only really nice pictures and add short, non-sales driven descriptions. For instance, instead of mentioning “Book directly with us and get a 10% discount!”, choose something that express your values and that inspire your potential guests to book with you: “Here at (insert your hotel name), we’re preparing for the warmer days, beautiful sunsets by the pool and slow mornings at your own pace. We’re opening soon, stay tuned!” This way, you’re creating in your guests the desire of experiencing moments and sensations. Also, don’t forget to use the hashtags that better suit your hotel and that can easily identify it. If you have a contemporaneous or design property located by the sea and you’re posting a picture of a room with a stunning view on Instagram, choose for a combination of hashtags like #(your hotel name), #roomwithaview, #hotelwithaview, #designhotel or other similar. Instagram allows you to insert up to 30 hashtags, so be creative! In case you’re wondering if this worths the effort now that your business is paused, the answer is: Yes. Start now. Your community wants to hear from you.
Start your e-mail marketing
Send newsletters or personalized emails to your guests. Let them know about your new flexible cancellation policy, your mobile/contactless check-in for their comfort and safety or even to remind them of the services they’re dreaming of and that they will be able to enjoy very soon.
Make sure you stay in touch with your actual guests and the potential ones on a frequent basis, at least once a month. Let them know that you exist, show empathy and above all, that you can’t wait to welcome them in person.
Extend your visibility in different booking platforms
Having your hotel rooms available on several booking platforms, is a great strategy to increase your business visibility and therefore, more bookings. Besides the well known Booking.com, consider adding other OTA’s like Expedia.com, Tripadvisor, AirBnB or Homeaway.
Another alternative is to contact DMC’s and travel agencies that are tuned with your ideal customer. This exposure can play an important role in advertising your hotel, when people are ready to book again. If you’re wondering how to manage your room’s availability in all these different platforms at the same time, consider having a Channel Manager. It saves you a ton of work and makes it easier to increase the occupancy rate.
Optimize your website
About 60% of guests visit the hotel’s website before booking online. They look for better prices, special packages that they can’t find anywhere else or even further information about the property.
Having your own website allows you to have full control on the impression that potential guests have of your hotel. Select top-quality pictures, highlight the most appealing areas of your accommodation (like the pool area, spacious rooms and a delicious breakfast setting) and check if you already have a Booking Engine. This software ensures that the availability of your rooms is always updated in real time. Your guests can book directly and pay by credit card using the online payment system.
Build your online shop
If you own a countryside hotel or a property with your own production of homemade cheese, wine, olive oil, jam or other homemade delicacies, now is the time to create your digital product showcase.
Building an online shop with integrated payments these days is not that difficult as it may seem. Take this time to explore platforms like Wordpress, that allow you to create simple and functional e-commerce websites. This makes possible for your guests to keep buying their favorite products from you, with a distance of a click.
Above all, take a look at this pause as an opportunity to improve how your business performs. Learn new digital marketing skills, put them into practice and dare to follow new approaches. Be creative on how you manage your hotel operation and resources. Stay on your guests' radar through social media and other marketing tools, to remind them that your hotel unit exists. In fact, just like you, your guests can’t wait for everything to return to normal as quickly as possible, so that they can finally enjoy a restful stay.
Digital Marketing Specialist