A Roadmap to Recovery: Online Training Session Takeaways
Are you currently preparing or planning a strategy to reopen your independent hotel? Do the massive amounts of information and constantly changing national guidelines and rules make you second guess your plan? Are you wondering where to start and how to mitigate the risks?
Recently we held an exclusive Online Training Session for member hotels and provided them with a Roadmap for post-pandemic recovery based on success stories from past crises and current market intelligence. Our first, in a series of Online Training Sessions, was lead by Rita Machado, VP of Marketing and Sales at Great Hotels of the World.
Whether you’re just collecting information or want to make sure your post-COVID-19 strategy ticks all the boxes, we invite you to read through the main takeaways we’ve put together. We focus on the three main areas that we’ve seen as crucial enablers of fast recovery and growth.
Communicate – regularly and often:
Why? Because what’s easy to see from the hotel brands that successfully navigated their way out of the not so far gone economic crisis of 2008, is that they focused on their brand rather than pricing tactics and last-minute dumping. They retold their story, shared their vision and essentially connected with their market, ensuring their name was top of mind and so had more influence over their audience than did their competitors.
Fundamentally, and going back to basics (which sometimes get overlooked) let everyone know when you’re planning to reopen, and remember those magic words – Trust, Safety and Flexibility! Be transparent with business partners and guests, talk to them about your teams, about the safety and hygiene programs you’ve put in place, cancellation policies that allow guests to easily change bookings if necessary, and share any local partnerships that guests can benefit from to get them excited about their trip.
You also have an opportunity to listen. There’s no better way to rebuild your business than by asking your guests and business partners what they need and expect, and working to fulfil those expectations.
Optimize your digital sales and distribution channels
Why? Because we’ve understood from the past that only the strongest digital brands survive. Your property needs to be found where guests and clients are looking when they are looking. Not only that – it needs to stand out from all the others and be easily accessible.
This means reviewing, updating and improving all of your online and offline content – your website and social media channels, OTAs, online directories, convention bureaus – anywhere you have content. And be relevant with your content. Remember those 3 pivotal words – Trust, Safety and Flexibility. Let “bookers” know if your reservation policies are flexible, (bonus tip: they must be) about your hygiene and safety policies and any certification or programme you have implemented, about special conditions you have in place that will increase trust in your brand – provide all the information they’ll be looking for.
Alongside content creation, measuring ROI will be of the essence.
Redefine your best products and create new ones
Why? Because customer needs have changed and to get back in the game, will require embracing those changes so that you don’t miss the boat! Below, we have set out some examples f what this may mean in the different segments.
- Corporate travel’s main concern will be safety, backed by robust travel procedures that encompass safety, duty of care, insurance, and so on. So travel agencies, GDS and consortia should see market share recovery.
Health and safety measures should be a central component of your communications. They should be as much of a priority as your destination.
- We also foresee a growth in the Bleisure (business travellers who add a couple of leisure days to their business trips) travel segment. Increasingly, it will become part of business travel because as people travel less they will want to make the most of each trip. Companies will be creating “bleisure” policies
Proactively offer bleisure rates and ideas. Get our clients to stay longer than the usual business trips
- We know that events, especially larger events will not be coming back for some time. Events will be smaller and may be organized in multi-destination simultaneously. The same company may have the same event happening in 3 or 4 smaller venues across Europe rather than one big event.
Being part of an international network will be a huge advantage.
- Digital will play an increasingly more prominent role and will likely become the new normal. During an event such as described above and events in general, technology will play an important role in engagement and measuring event ROI.
So staff must embrace the technological aspect of events. Find opportunities to include your hotel in the pre and post-event engagement actions – so that your hotel stays top of mind for participants. Include this in your contracts
- In addition to health and hygiene, social distancing capacity will be key. Outdoor spaces will be highly valued and creativity will play a big role.
Audit your venues from a safety perspective and make sure your staff are trained. Whenever any kind of official certification is available, obtain certification. If not follow another destination’s criteria so you can make sure you have everything in place.
- Events planners and corporates will be apprehensive about making commitments in such uncertain times.
Be flexible on contract cancellation policies. Share the risk with clients whenever possible. Review existing contracts find non-standard begin to think of those as the norm.
- When it comes to the leisure traveller, we actually see trust, safety and flexibility as a huge opportunity. Travellers will want to connect directly with you for reassurance. You are the owner of your policies – and this will provide a great chance to increase direct bookings and influence behaviour.
- F&B will be seen as a risk.
Prepare for a rise in in-room dining. Outdoor dining/picnic hampers. This will be the norm.
- Leisure travellers will be more concerned and interested in the local community and being able to help than ever. Again we see this as an opportunity for local hotels to be more embedded in a more sustainable business environment.
Share local stories and history. Partner with local businesses that can provide personalized leisure activities that will engage your guests.
We’re confident that the hospitality industry will overcome the current downturn and thrive as it has done time and time again. We know that independent hotels are hardest hit and often simply don’t have access to the same resources as bigger chain hotels. We want to play a part in your recovery and look forward to seeing you succeed!
we have another Online Training Session on June 2, at 16:00 GMT, in which we will take a deep dive into the UK MICE Market.
For more information visit ghotw.com