Are you a hotel operator or owner who has been grappling with low occupancy rates due to the pandemic? If yes, then you’re already familiar with the huge roadblocks the pandemic has created for the global hospitality industry.
According to the latest research by McKinsey, hotel occupancy levels won’t go back to pre-COVID levels until 2023.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no hope for your hotel to survive the pandemic. With the development of vaccines at lightning-fast speeds, governments in many areas have eased travel bans and restrictions. While your revenue may not go back to pre-pandemic levels just yet, you can expect an uptick in occupancy and cash flow.
Also, the demand for hotels will skyrocket when the “revenge travel” bug bites consumers after the pandemic is over. While an end to the pandemic may not be in sight, hotel operators must pivot now to prepare for the next normal.
The key is to generate demand for your property, and understand the changing needs and preferences of consumers.
In this blog, we’ve outlined a few powerful strategies hotel managers and owners can use to sail through the pandemic. Let’s take a look.
1. Don’t Stop Marketing
If there’s one thing that economic crises from the past have taught us, it’s this – businesses that didn’t skimp on marketing were the ones that emerged in flying colors. That’s precisely what hotel businesses should be doing right now, even if low occupancy rates persist.
Restricted cash flow and dwindling revenue often make it seem like it’s futile to invest in hotel marketing strategies. But it’s the only way to engage potential clients and stay connected with them.
Even if they aren’t ready to travel at the moment, they’ll want to step out once the pandemic is under control. And you want your hotel to be the first name that comes to their mind when they plan their post-pandemic vacation.
Start by establishing a strong online presence for your hotel brand on search engines and social media platforms. Build a well-designed business website that highlights your hotel’s distinguishing features.
Also, use the website to let guests make and modify reservations, as well as learn more about the amenities you’re offering. Leverage digital marketing strategies, such as search engine optimization (SEO) and Google Ads.
It’s a good idea to work with an experienced hotel marketing consultant who will develop a robust demand generation strategy for your business. They can even help you stay on top of the latest trends in the hospitality industry and accordingly tailor your services.
If you decide to work with a consultant, make sure you choose someone who has extensive experience working in the hospitality industry.
2. Adapt to Evolving Consumer Needs
The pandemic has changed the average consumer’s travel preferences. Today, people are more concerned than ever about hygiene and safety in public places. Also, they might be more inclined towards comfortable staycation experiences than heading to crowded tourist attractions.
As a hotel operator, the onus is on you to identify and cater to these shifting demands. For instance, delivering picnic baskets to guests’ rooms will let them avoid heading for the buffet breakfast every morning.
Similarly, you could convert each room into a self-sufficient unit comprising workout equipment, office furniture, and a kitchenette. It’ll help you tap into the rising trend of “work-cations”. People who are tired of working from home want to take a break from their routine life without taking a leave from work.
While business-related travel may not pick up post-COVID, you can still attract working professionals with the right amenities. That means providing round-the-clock access to high-speed WiFi, and building a mini-business center inside each unit.
Also, considering the uncertainty of the pandemic, it’s wiser to make booking cancellation and modification policies more flexible. You should provide guests with the freedom to plan future travels without worrying about incurring financial losses.
3. Highlight Cleanliness Protocols
It’s the only way to ease your guests’ worries about hygiene and cleanliness. Use your social media profiles and website to showcase the protocols you’re implementing to keep the premises COVID-free. Don’t forget to exhibit these protocols at strategic locations across your property as well.
4. Embrace Tech Innovations
Minimizing human interaction is a crucial part of keeping your guests safe. It emphasizes the need for using cutting-edge hotel tech innovations to facilitate keyless entry, self-check-in/checkout, cashless payments, etc.
Similarly, you can invest in robotic hotel staff to make housekeeping and maintenance safer and more efficient. Using wearable technology for contact tracing and monitoring guests’ health is also a good idea.
Gear up for the Next Normal
The pandemic-driven “new normal” won’t last forever. If hotel operators want to sail through the current crisis, they must start preparing for the post-COVID world right now. Use clever hotel marketing strategies to stir a buzz about your property. Also, customize your amenities and services based on what consumers want right now.