After more than a year of uncertainty, we are finally getting the upper hand against the Coronavirus. Bloomberg reports that “more than 168 million doses have been administered across 77 countries. The latest rate was roughly 5.84 million doses a day.” To put that number in perspective and make everyone feel more positive, Bloomberg reports that more Americans have received at least one dose than having tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began. With experts predicting that most people will be vaccinated by the end of summer, it’s time to prepare for the return of leisure travel. In this blog post, we share five expert tips to help your hotel with reopening.
Many hotels are already doing a great job preparing for the next phase of the pandemic based on lessons they learned in 2020. We shared some great customer examples in our blog post, “Hotel reopening: What our customers learned from past lockdown”. Among the lessons shared, our customers discussed the importance of focusing on their guest database, being clear and public about their cleaning protocols and maintaining rates by avoiding public discounting.
To build on that post, we scoured the web and spoke with our customers to gather more tips about how to prepare for the return of travel.
Rethink Cancellation Policies
Even when the risk of contracting the coronavirus goes down, travelers will still have some anxiety about traveling after more than a year of sheltering in place. We were told about the importance of maintaining six feet of space between people and wearing masks. It’s only normal to have some residual fear about jumping back into travel. While most people have expressed a desire to return to their pre-pandemic lives, they will need reassurances.
Rather than return to your pre-pandemic policies, put yourself in your guests’ shoes and rethink your long-term cancellation policy. To ease your guests’ concerns about traveling, continue to offer worry-free reservations, allowing them to cancel or change the dates without penalties. Be sure to highlight your cancellation policy on your website and in your email promotions, to encourage impulse bookings.
Don’t forget that your cancellation policy can set you apart from OTAs and be a reason for guests to book with you directly. Revinate Marketing can help you drive revenue from your most profitable segment – – your past guests.
Reward Loyal Guests
During the pandemic, many hoteliers found a lifeline in their hotel guest database. They segmented their database and relied on their local and past guests for whatever business they could muster. As a response to that success, many hotels are focusing on these same guests for reopening. They are targeting them with great promotions to encourage their business when more people begin traveling.
For example, to Kick-off the New Year, Revinate Marketing customer Muckross Park Hotel & Spa offered a “late” Christmas gift to their subscribers. The hotel offered 20% off for nearly the entire year! In addition to kick-starting travel planning, this generous reward lets guests know that they’re valued and will be warmly welcomed back. What we love about Muckross Park Hotel & Spa focusing on past guests through email marketing, is that the hotel is able to maintain its public rate.
Guests that have a great experience at one hotel in a group, will likely have a great experience at a sister property. These ‘friendly’ travelers are a great target for your reopening campaign because they are comfortable with the brand already from a past stay.
Revinate’s multi-hotel customers can easily segment their database to isolate past guests that haven’t yet stayed at a particular property in the group and target those guests with promotional emails to encourage them to expand their horizons. Using guest feedback, marketers can start with only 5-star review writers to test the waters. This strategy worked well for Resplendent Ceylon, a family-owned group in Sri-Lanka, that cross-promoted its experiential vacations to past guests to encourage them to visit all properties.
As you can imagine, having clean data before reopening is very important for this level of segmentation. Revinate Marketing customers benefit from Advanced Profile Synthesis, which continuously cleans your data to ensure dupes are removed and dirty data is expunged, making segmentation more accurate and actionable.
Find Ways to Stand Apart
There’s no doubt that hotels will be competing for travelers this summer when travel restrictions are lifted. Find ways to set your hotel apart with email promotions that will get the attention of your guests. While we never advocate publicly discounting rates, promotions to past guests are a great way to drive loyal guests back and have them book directly with you, thus saving expensive OTA costs.
Lancemore Hotels does a great job of capturing loyal guests with a “Welcome Back” campaign. They use the border in Australia opening up to welcome back their past guests, offering 20% off an overnight accommodation, a complimentary upgrade, and cocktails upon arrival. Quite the deal!
Set the Right Expectations
One thing we know from our 10+ years of helping hotels manage their online reputation with our hotel guest feedback platform is that travelers write negative reviews when their expectations haven’t been met. That’s why it’s so important to ensure your guests know what to expect before they walk through your doors. Are your outlets closed? Are your guests required to wear masks in all areas of the property? Did you change housekeeping procedures? Be sure to let your guests know in your pre-arrival email.
With Revinate Marketing, you can automate this email to ensure that every guest knows what to expect before arrival. Since this email gets the highest opens of any automated email, you can also encourage upsells here. If your outlets are closed, offer a boxed-lunch option. This will allow your guests to know what their options are and make decisions, before arrival. Or, When the guest arrives on property, you can trigger a welcome email to let the guest know about what to expect at the hotel, including breakfast information, outlet hours, special events and more. Here are great hotel email campaign examples.
We hope these hotel reopening best practices and tips help as you plan for this next phase of travel and develop your hotel marketing strategy. If we can help you with more tips or best practices, please reach out. We would love to show you a demo and discuss the success that our customers are having as they reopen their hotels and bring guests back. We can’t wait to hear from you. Book a meeting with us.