It’s very hard not to get wrapped up in the international-wide hysteria that is gripping parts of the globe due to the coronavirus. You can’t turn a corner without seeing a health warning (wash.your.hands.), hearing chat about the latest cases, or even seeing how it’s affecting the way people greet each other…
And there is no denying its already evident impact on the travel industry. The vast media coverage has cohorts of people cancelling trips abroad, and as the outbreak develops, we’re all living in a state of uncertainty. What we can do is remember that we’ve been through things like this before – SARS or HIN1 swine flu anyone?! This too shall pass. Don’t go rethinking your entire long term strategy just yet. For now, let’s concentrate on putting all the practical measures in place so that the revenue-related damage to your property is minimal.
What can you do right now?
Highlight a ‘free cancellations’ message on your website
People are worried, stressed, and see cancelling as a necessity – making it as easy as possible for people to do this will mean you aren’t contributing to their sense of stress around the situation. They are actually more likely to book with you again if this process is made quick, easy, and if they recognise your flexibility – work with them, not against them! Highlighting that cancellations are free can be done through action bars and rateplan badges. If your guests do cancel, touch base with them and offer to rebook them in for honour rates! The personable touch will be appreciated, and the offer to rebook at a reduced rate reflects really well.
When it comes to prepaid offers, approach them with the same flexible mindset. Offer a refund until 72 hours prior to arrival or a credit note so that your guest can rebook within 3 or 6 months.
Load up your summer packages
It might seem early, but given the current circumstances, you’re better off loading your summer packages now. Increase your short term focus on the domestic market for now. It seems as though people are holding off on booking trips abroad, so they’re more likely to plan staycations. Make sure your hotel is in the mix when they’re researching alternative summer plans at home.
Remember not to halt your longer term international campaigns – that will harm you in the long run.
Let guests know why they should stay with you
The noise around this situation is unavoidable. To have any chance of standing out, you need to focus less on cutting your rates, and more on what add-ons you can offer. What differentiates your hotel and makes it stand out is the added value you’re offering to bring to your guests life, and even the little things go far! Some suggestions:
- Offer discounts for local attractions (museums, leisure centres, restaurants)
- Include a ‘book direct and receive 10% off the hotel restaurant / bar’ offer
- Provide a welcome drink for everyone in the family upon arrival
- Offer free breakfast
- Offer kids to stay or eat for free
In the hotel…
The warnings are everywhere – wash your hands, people.
Make sure you have your own reminders and hand sanitisers anywhere and everywhere in your hotel. Make sure they’re in all the public areas and bedrooms. This is to comply with the recommended safety measures, but also to ease the minds of your guests – they can see you’re on it, and you’re taking this seriously.