It’s inevitable that coronavirus will have an impact on your bottom line. According to the Global Business Travel Association, nearly 50% of businesses have already canceled or postponed at least some meetings or travel. Similarly, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that one in eight Americans has already changed travel plans due to the virus.
But that doesn’t mean that as a hotelier, you don’t have any control! In the face of such large numbers, messaging will be key to weathering this storm. We’ve pulled together a list of a few things you can do to lessen the number of cancellations you receive and impart some confidence in your guests that their stay at your hotel will be safe.
Leverage Pre-Arrival Emails to Control the Narrative
Your pre-arrival emails are a great channel for proactively communicating with guests who already plan on staying at your hotel. Send a pre-arrival email that details what you’re doing to ensure your guests are safe. Don’t let them imagine! Much of what you’d include you would be doing regardless: cleaning rooms every day, frequent disinfecting, employees maintaining high levels of cleanliness. Letting guests know will give them a feeling of security.
Be Flexible With Your Cancellation Policy
Show your guests you care and be pragmatic. You know that many guests will cancel no matter what you do. Rather than create animosity, build a bridge with these people and convert them from cancellers into future guests. Consider a “book now, cancel later” campaign that invites guests to book with your hotel, but allows them the leeway to cancel up until a couple of weeks before the trip. This can give potential guests the comfort to book, and if all goes well, by the time of their trip, things will have died down a little.
Create a Dedicated Page Detailing Your Preparation for the Virus
Create a page on your hotel’s website that includes information on the outbreak related to your hotel, such as this statement from Hilton. Add the latest news in your city/region, and also include your policy for maintaining a clean and safe hotel.
Target Locals and Existing Guests
Segmentation is a powerful tool to help you target the right guests with every email communication. Don’t miss the opportunity to use it when you need it most. We know that many people will be avoiding travel, particularly international travel, so it makes sense to reach out to those in your area. Use geo-targeting to focus on guests in driving distance of your hotel and offer them a weekend special (“Staycation Time!”).
Don’t go crazy with discounting. Experts warn that leaning on discounting only hurts your bottom line. Alternatively, you can focus on your most loyal guests, providing them with an offer and thanking them for their loyalty and repeat business.
Double Down on Upsells
If room reservations are down, you can make up some of the lost revenue by taking advantage of ancillary sources such as upsells. We wouldn’t suggest offering hand sanitizer as an upsell (though that could be a candidate for a nice “surprise and delight” gift), but perhaps travelers are more wary of going out to restaurants and can be encouraged to order more room service. For example, you could offer a romantic “dinner-in” offer.
If you need help or guidance navigating this uncertainty, you can always reach out to our team.