The global hospitality business is still bearing the brunt of COVID-19. Hotel business across countries is in shambles. However, experts believe that the hospitality business will be the first to bounce back as soon as normalcy is restored. Why? People are eagerly waiting to travel after staying indoors for months together. And the moment travel resumes, the hospitality business will get back its lost charm.
Current trends suggest that the pandemic will not recede completely. There could be a period of lull lasting for months before it resurfaces after a while. However, the severity of its impact may weaken as people across the globe are getting vaccinated rapidly. This would prompt people to switch on their “travel mode.” They will pack their bags and leave their homes. In this scenario, as a hotelier, you need to do everything possible to attract your fair share of guests to revive your hospitality business. Now how do you do that? The answer is – by letting them know that their health and safety is your top priority, and you have all the measures in place to offer them a pleasant and safe stay at your property.
This piece will share some tips that could help you attract more guests and serve them efficiently once you open your gates post-COVID restrictions. Let’s go through them one by one. Let’s go through them one by one.
Reinvent your property with technology adoption
It is almost two years now that your property is out of action, and the same goes for your competitors, too. Once the market opens up, there will be fierce competition. If you have not leveraged the power of hospitality technology solutions to your benefits, now is the time to do so.
Start with a cloud Hotel PMS, a hotel management system to automate your end-to-end hotel operations. This will help you save a significant amount of man-hours to offer the much-needed personal touch to your guests. Zero operational errors and a lower cost of software ownership will help you reduce operating costs. Yes, “reducing costs” should be your ultimate motto, and there should be no lax in it as you have already witnessed unrecoverable financial loss.
You will also have to rely on an array of technology solutions to sell more rooms via online sales channels. For this, you need to adopt a channel manager that gets integrated with your Hotel PMS. This critical integration ensures a two-way real-time flow of data related to your hotel’s rate, availability, and restrictions between the Hotel PMS and online sales channels. Most importantly, you will be able to work with leading OTAs to attract more guests from across regions while efficiently dealing with operational hazards like overbooking and double booking.
Revenue Management System
Only selling more rooms is not essential. Instead, you should aim to sell the right room at the right cost to the right guest at the right time to gain more out of your room revenue. This is where a revenue management system enables you to maximize revenue by predicting demand and making strategic pricing decisions. In other words, you can dynamically set room rates based on demand, supply, and competition.
The list of technology adoption can go on depending on your requirements. You can implement several other technology solutions to create a touch-free/touchless environment for your guests and staff. Remember this – “touchless experience” will be the number one priority of guests staying with you. Here are some examples –
- Mobile check-in/checkout
- Digital room key
- Allow guests to adjust blinds and other in-room amenities via their smartphones
- Implement motion sensor lighting and faucets
- Contactless payment
Focus on marketing Focus on marketing
Have your marketing team send emails to your potential/old guests highlighting your measures to keep them safe. Tell them how you have managed to reduce physical touchpoints. Update your website with relevant information about safety measures. If your entire workforce is fully vaccinated, state it clearly on all your guest communication collaterals. Revamping your website will help you get more direct booking when you integrate a web booking engine. Revisit your social media pages, refresh them with new information and content like images and short videos. Online booking engine integration will also help you get direct bookings from your social media pages.
It is advisable to align your marketing and revenue management strategy to attract guests. Work on room pricing based on seasons and create packages. Work from home or hybrid work models will become the new norm. Leverage this and configure your packages around the ‘work from hotel’ model. Professionals will like it if you provide them with workstations, Wi-Fi, and other related stuff.
Work on your online reputation
Create a robust online reputation for your brand by requesting your happy guests write positive reviews. See if those reviews talk highly about your health safety measures other than your facilities. Respond to guest reviews. Use badges or certificates highlighting the precautionary actions that you may obtain from the local health authority.
Don’t forget to implement a flexible cancellation/modification policy
This is quite important. You can have this policy implemented to generate more direct bookings. These are uncertain times, and your guests might have to cancel or modify their bookings based on travel restrictions. You will gain their trust by assisting them with an easy and flexible cancellation/modification policy. They are more likely to get back to you the moment they start traveling.
Other important aspects to keep in mind
Follow protective guidelines
This should be your number one priority. You need to work with the local authority and follow the prescribed guidelines to ensure a safe physical distance in your gyms and restaurants. Comply with the required protective measures, including your hotel’s hygiene, use of masks, sanitizers, daily health check-up/temperature check for staff, vendors, and even for your guests. You may even have separate rooms marked as “isolation rooms” in case of any emergency.
Ventilation and air conditioning
Take necessary steps to improve your indoor ventilation to prevent the spread of the virus. Consider using natural ventilation to increase the dilution of the indoor air by outdoor air. Regularly inspect and clean your HVAC systems. Disable temperature- or occupancy-based ventilation feature that reduces air supply.
Reopening and regaining the lost ground after a long gap would be no doubt a difficult task. In the post-crisis era, your hospitality business will have to deal with guests who will be more cautious about their safety. Less occupancy may hurt your bottom line due to social/physical distancing. It is advisable to keep an eye on the situation to develop either a short- or long-term reopening/recovery plan.