The hospitality and travel industries have been amongst the worst affected by the Covid pandemic. Near total shutdowns of whole countries and non-essential air travel stopped have wreaked havoc on these industries which rely on each other for survival. The hospitality industry, including restaurants, hotels and events amongst others accounted for almost 10% of the UK workforce, and with this coming to a standstill, there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people who are now out of work. The question here is how can the hotel industry recover and what do they need to do to prepare for this? Below are some of the options they have available to them.
1) Continue to stay in touch with past and future guests
With the hotel industry expected to begin recovery towards the end of 2020, it is important that they don’t go off their customer’s radar. To do this they should still be posting regularly on social media with useful, relevant content on current issues as well as showing what they still have/will have to offer.
Marketing efforts will certainly have slowed down, but they will need to be ramped up as travel begins to open up and freedom of movement increases. Obviously, these businesses will have been heavily hit by this pandemic so it is absolutely important they use their resources efficiently. While it is important to remain in your guests minds, there is little use running full marketing campaigns when it is not possible to convert them into sales anytime soon.
2) Invest in contact-reducing equipment
Profits will certainly take a hit due to the increased need for sanitization of rooms and equipment so hotels should look into reducing the amount of contact and interactions people make. Receptions may be replaced with self-service check-in machines like those found in airports. Meeting and conference rooms may be booked online and investment can be made in a cool room booking system for guests to ensure minimal face-to-face contact.
3) Alter their cancellation policies
At a time of so much uncertainty, it is important that hotels offer flexible cancellation policies for their guests. Flights restricted or cancelled at short notice can have a knock-on effect on the rest of a customer’s booking, so they will certainly only look to book with places that offer them refund policies that won’t leave them out of pocket.
Having a stress-free cancellation policy is important for maintaining strong brand-loyalty and giving customers confidence at a time when they need it most.
4) Generate more direct-bookings
Travel agencies may be responsible for a lot of a hotel’s business, but they also take a huge chunk of the booking fees while even pushing down prices to remain competitive. This can put a lot of pressure on a hotel’s margins so the recovery should focus on attaining more direct bookings, essentially cutting out the middleman. Hotels should look to do more of their own marketing to drive customers to their websites for bookings.