Summary: We’re pleased to see hoteliers make the transition from scrambling to adjust operating costs to a thoughtful curiosity around how to create a strategy to help navigate an uncertain future.
In our recent post on the five challenges hoteliers must overcome, we shared the results of a survey we sent to our community. In the survey, we asked hoteliers to share their challenges as they fight to keep their businesses running during the pandemic. Our hope was that hoteliers would find comfort in knowing that their emotions are shared with others in the industry. Today, we’re finding reasons to celebrate the results.
The early responses we received indicated a major emphasis on putting out cash flow fires and managing the unfortunate task of cutting costs as a form of survival. But recently, we’ve seen hoteliers shift to a new wave of thinking that demonstrates their undying resiliency and confirms they are looking towards the future and focused on taking care of their guests.
Today, we’re seeing hoteliers gear up to put proactive plans in place for how they will recoup costs when the travel industry regains momentum. In our survey, we asked about topics that would help hoteliers at this phase of the crisis. The vast majority (71%) of people wanted to see strategy and planning ideas. They’re putting aside the feelings of loss and panic in order to productively address their return.
When hotels re-open, most will be operating with very few reservations on the books and will need to quickly drive bookings. During this time, hoteliers will have two priorities:
- Recouping lost revenue as quickly as possible
- Standing out from the masses who are racing to absorb demand
As we mentioned in a previous article, many hoteliers will be rethinking their distribution channels and planning to deemphasize OTAs when they reopen their doors in an effort to solve both of the priorities listed above.
To help inform the timeline of each hotel’s rebound strategy, 70% of respondents are also looking for projections on how and when this pandemic will play out. Though there are no straight answers to this question, STR is playing a big role during this time in helping hoteliers analyze markets and historical data to model what the return might look like.
When it comes to standing out from what will become a very noisy market, 58% of respondents are looking for creative marketing solutions now so they are prepared when the market is ready. They recognize that when social distancing restrictions ease, every hotel will be firing on all cylinders to bring guests into their lobbies and that creative campaigns will help them differentiate themselves from their competitors. Segmentation will be key. Where universal marketing messages get lost in the noise, targeted messages that hit the right audience always drive the largest return.
In fact, we analyzed one-time promotional emails sent from Revinate customers, and the results are telling: targeted campaigns sent to fewer than 5,000 recipients get opened 2x more than campaigns with broad messaging sent to 50,000 recipients. Even more impressive is the fact that segmented audiences have 5x the conversion rate of those sent to larger audiences.
The bottom line: it’s easier to personalize offers when you send to a unique audience and personalization is proven to improve your results.
The most strategic hoteliers are preparing themselves by continuing to engage with guests ahead of the market rebounding… even those with a severe decrease in resources and, in many cases, a complete lack of marketing personnel. In fact, 72% of respondents said they are currently prioritizing communication with guests as they weather the coronavirus storm. Why? To keep their database engaged and gain trust for when bookings return.
If you need a little inspiration, we’ve been actively collecting and sharing some of our favorite email examples in our coronavirus resource center — and you can subscribe for updates here.
Interestingly, only 28% of respondents are looking for advice on maintaining personal resilience. While there is no doubt that hoteliers are feeling beaten down and battered, this indicates that teams are orienting themselves around the success of the hotel and the experience of their guests. As hospitality leaders, they want to shake hands and reassure guests and their teams in person, but today’s times make that impossible. This explains why there seems to be so much emphasis on planning ahead — it’s all about the fastest route to returning to business as usual and welcoming guests back.
For more advice on navigating this crisis, visit our coronavirus microsite for hoteliers.