With plans now in place for mapping our way out of national lockdown, hotels will be getting themselves into position ready for re-opening.
Here are 5 tips to inform your hotel strategies as you move towards re-opening:
Tip One – Prioritise Data Capture and CRM
Use this time to capture new email addresses and build your email lists by running giveaways or competitions or directing traffic to your newsletter sign up on your website. Keeping your data in a centralised CRM will allow you to monitor engagement with your hotel over time and will help to convert more bookings through targeted marketing. This will become especially valuable during periods when demand needs to be stimulated.
Tip Two – Create New Experiences
If you have large grounds, utilise the space to introduce new outdoor activities such as picnics, dining pods, live music events, pop-up bars, art exhibitions etc. You will attract local guests as well as provide great experiences as a hook to book for those who are coming from further afield. Consider how you could charge for these spaces, particularly private / exclusive areas, targeting segments such as families and groups of friends which are likely to be the first guests to return.
Tip Three – Channel Mix & The OTAs
Know your channel mix and consider that it may change. Revenue and marketing must work hand in hand here (they should be BFFs anyway!) to ascertain the right business mix for your hotel. Your channel mix should be a high % of direct and if it’s not, it’s time to draft a robust plan. Utilising OTA’s for their billboard effect and larger scale advertising budgets can be beneficial in targeting new guests and driving business in the initial re-opening stage. Just be sure to capture the email address details of these bookers while on property so that you can engage with them in post stay comms. This way, your OTA guest, is likely to return to you directly in future, bringing down your commission costs. Remember OTAs should not own your guests.
Tip Four – Keep your Plans Agile
Predicting the future is challenging at the moment as the hospitality industry continues to be tested in ways it never has. Remaining agile and planning for “what if” scenarios will help you to be better prepared, no matter what happens. Make plans flexible to adapt to changing market realities and different scenarios; for example:“What if” business travel only returns to 60%?, “what if” international travel opens up overnight? “What if” a new guest segment requires a new booking channel? “What if” staycations is the new normal and increasing lengths of stays become standard. Teams must stay on top of these changing scenarios to remain competitive as guest preferences evolve.
Tip Five – Marketing Budget
While hotels look set to have a good summer in the UK in 2021, don’t forget about the medium to longer term. Keep creating relevant content for your web visitors and don’t stop investing a percentage of your digital marketing budget in discovery and retargeting campaigns. It’s just as important to be in front of guests in their ‘dreaming’ phase as it is in the ‘planning‘ phase of their booking journey.