What can I do now in preparation for the “new normal”

As we enter the month of May it appears that it will be another month of closures for the majority of hotels, guest houses, bed & breakfasts as well as other tourism driven businesses, after some great feedback on our previous article Some Realizations – from the desk of a revenue specialist we have been receiving feedback on what needs to be done next or what can we do to maximize the time during closure.

Many in the industry cannot wait for COVID-19 to be a thing of the past however the impact thereof will be felt for a long time into the future. Right now many hotels are closed and even when restrictions are lifted we are expecting very low occupancies, panic is the natural feeling however now is not the time to panic but the time to plan.

From a revenue or commercial point of view there are a few key elements that can be perfected right now that would have a long lasting impact on your business. Proper planning now would result in a competitive advantage when any demand returns.

As mentioned there are a few key elements that can be worked on now and they are,

Is your distribution footprint setup correct & maximized – there are not many hotels that has a full in depth understanding of where the hotel rates are distributed to or where the hotel can be found online. It is suggested that a full property management system audit is done as a starting point and then the same process followed across all API connection partners. The aim would be to ensure that all the available room types, rate codes and restrictions are applied across as many channels as possible in order to spread the hotels reach. The more consistent the information distributed from the PMS system or the channel manager the higher the chances of converting lookers into bookers. It is also essential to ensure that the hotel has rates and availability distributed for as far into the future that the system used allows.

Understanding your value is criticalnow is a great time to take a good look at the hotel offering and decide what and who you want to be post COVID-19. It is essential to be brutally honest with yourself in terms of what kind of value offering will be put forward as this will have a direct impact on all bench marking moving forward. A great data driven tool to use for this is actual guest reviews from TripAdvisor, OTA channels and other review platforms, often this data is not deep dived enough and now is the perfect time to use these actual guest reviews to align the hotels new strategy and value offering moving forward.

Understanding your market is now more important than everAfter the hotel has decided who and what they want to be post COVID-19 it is critical to establish a realistic competitor set that can be used for bench marking purposes. Competitor and market benchmarking in terms of pricing, promotions and initiatives will now be more important than before as the lower demand will make it extra difficult to stand out in order to gain market share. Price will no longer be able to be used in order to stimulate demand.

Content Drives Conversiona hotel has many 24 hour a day sales tools available at their disposal, direct web site, online travel agencies (OTAs) as well as wholesaler partners. All of these platforms require content in order to showcase the hotel in order to assist conversions. Now is a great time to take a look at how your hotel is presented to the everyday consumer, ensure that there is a logical flow to all content displayed and that the content is up to date a relevant across all online sales channels. There is a higher chance that a looker will turn into a booker if they can see the value of the experience even before arrival.

Guest Review Scores Countnow is the perfect time to go back and analyse your past guest review scores across the various revenue generating platforms and determine the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities that are presented using real guest data. If this is done correctly a clear trend would be identified and this would be able to be used to create a clear tangible plan per department with the focus on maintaining what has worked well in the past and putting measures in place to improve any shortfalls identified. A very quick win here could be the improvement of maintenance issues that may have been missed as well as any cleanliness issues that would now require much more focus.

Maximizing existing marketing dataas it is a legal requirement to collect certain information from guests when they check in now is the perfect chance to deep dive all the information collected. Guest information could be segmented in terms of geographical location, reason for travel as well as the source used to book their stay. If this information is properly segmented it could be used to make contact with previous guests in a much more targeted manor, the conversion rates on targeted marketing is much higher than that of the spray and pray method. Personalisation is going to become a big aspect of travel and the hotels hold enough information about previous guests to develop a very strong communications strategy. It is essential that the hotel has permission from the guest before adding them to any marketing database however this should all be part of the guest information collection process at check in and easily filtered.

Social Media is your friendsocial media is your friend as a hotel right now, not in the way of spamming followers with hundreds of posts daily however in the way that you now have time to dedicate to a more streamlined strategy. Now is the time to understand what kind of content to share with your followers, think ahead, make them want to engage with your brand now and remember you when travel is allowed again. If you have any budget for social media marketing you need to ensure that this is spent wisely or at all, the key would be to generate conversions post COVID-19 and if all the marketing budget is spent during lock down keeping top of mind it may be detrimental at a later stage when people are actually allowed to travel again.

Partner UpIt is crucial that the industry sticks together now more than ever, every hotel or tourism business needs to find a way to partner up in order to maximize any dual marketing campaigns. It is critical more than ever to find other businesses or service providers that can assist you in sales or brand awareness, take every opportunity to maximize your product, promotions or even brand by playing smart and finding liked minded businesses. When looking for potential partners one needs to be realistic in who to approach and also be sure that all aspects can be maximized, ask questions such as how many followers do they have on social media, are they able to do email marketing and even if they have any influencers that work for them. Now is the time to maximize on that network. A suggested partner to sell vouchers and market your product is Instant Experiences. 

There is not much that we can do as hoteliers right now besides wait and plan, commercially we can prepare ourselves and systems for the startup and operationally we can ready ourselves for the changes required within before we can welcome guests back, both equally as important as each other and both focused on the returning of our guests and trading.

The TrevPAR World team is here to help you – we are very happy to have a conference call with anybody that requires advice and assistance during this time – please just email us on info@trevparworld.com and we will happily assist.

We will travel again, stay safe!

Derek Martin

CEO & Founder – TrevPAR World