The coronavirus outbreak that started in Wuhan, China has spread like wildfire throughout the world. With the world on hold, global travel has been put to a stop, causing a huge blow to the hospitality industry, particularly hotels. Travel bans mean less tourists, and less tourists mean lesser hotel guests.
Even when it ends, the practice of social distancing, fear of large crowds, and quarantining may continue to linger for months or even years. This means that business owners need to keep up with this drastic shift in consumer behavior. Keep in mind that many of your potential guests may develop a lasting stigma against crowded places, including hotel lobbies, busy restaurants, schools, offices, and more.
According to the STR and Tourism Economics, the hotel industry is projected to suffer a 50.6% decline in revenue per available room (RevPAR) in 2020 due to COVID-19. In another research from CBRE, since the outbreak began in January 2020, it will take approximately 6-10 months for hotel demand to increase and 12 to 16 months for average daily rate (ADR) and RevPAR to gain footing.
With that said, hoteliers need to take proactive measures to prepare for recovery once this dies down. Here are five strategies hotels should implement to survive the effects of COVID-19.
1. Inform Your Customers of Critical COVID-19 Information
Be sure your customers know of the changes in hotel operations due to COVID-19. Inform them whether your hotel is open, as well as cancellation policies for reservations made before the outbreak. Also, don’t forget to let them know that you have a prevention plan in place.
You can connect with your customers via website, social media, emails, and local listings. Your website and social media platforms should contain the following necessary information in which to put your customers at ease:
- Cancellation Policy – the best route is to waive cancellation fees or allow guests to rebook.
- Address Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19
- Comprehensive Prevention Plan
- How Your Hotel is Helping the Community
- Contact Information
2. Recognize the Efforts of Front liners
Doctors, nurses, hospital staff, security guards, cashiers, garbage collectors, medical technicians – these are just some of the people who work in the frontlines to fight the war against COVID-19. Recognizing their efforts is the least we can do to repay their service.
For hoteliers, you might consider offering discounted rates for front-liners and first responders. Some hotels are now offering complimentary rooms for healthcare professionals with the help of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Hospitality for Hope.
If you want to give a little something to the first responders, you can donate food from your restaurant to local hospitals, offer more affordable rates, offer complimentary rooms, or donate to relief and recovery funds.
3. Connect with Existing and Potential Guests on Social Media
Since everyone is quarantining, the use of social media has drastically increased over the past few weeks. It’s a great opportunity for business owners, especially hoteliers, to stay connected with your guests and engage with them through posting travel and destination content.
You can ask previous hotel guests to share a picture from their past stay, share photos of your hotels, post pictures of your area, share virtual tours of tourist spots, or ask your clients to share their favorite touristy activity in your city.
If your hotel has a gym, you can post at-home workout videos. You can create videos or instructional guides to keep your guests fit while they’re confined to their home. These are just some of the ways to stay connected amid a global pandemic.
4. Try Upselling
As travel and dine-in demands are being put on hold, every hotelier’s strategy should include looking for strategies to build additional revenue. For it to be effective, you need to figure out what your customers need and want.
You can encourage guests to book in advance by offering them premium rooms at a discount. You can also offer longer stays for a lower price. For example, book a four-night stay and get the fifth at 50% off.
This inspires business travelers to extend their stay and encourages potential guests to enjoy a relaxing stay post-pandemic. If your hotel has a dining area or a wellness spa, you can maximize your revenue by offering gift cards. For your restaurant, you can offer delivery or pickup orders.
5. Personalize Your Marketing Campaigns
Pandemic or no pandemic, personalizing your marketing campaigns is vital to your success. By doing this, your customers will feel important. Whether you want to reach out to business travelers or encourage advance bookings, it always helps to send personalized messages to potential guests.
With so much on your plate, it can be tempting to generate an automated marketing message. However, you can use this time to get to know your audience and connect with them. You can also try using campaign management software to schedule posts in advance, which will keep your messages aligned.
Combat the Effects of COVID-19 with These Hotel Financing Options
The effects of COVID-19 in the hotel industry are inevitable. However, as the saying goes: “Those who fail to plan – plan to fail.”
If you need financial assistance, there are different hotel financing options you can choose from. Taking out a loan may seem counterintuitive, but fortunately there are lending companies that offer flexible repayment terms.