The hospitality and travel industry has its work cut out for it this year but there is real promise for a major upswing. As travel slowly increases due to vaccine availability, hotels need to prepare for the rebound and know exactly what the market is responding to.
Here are some things you can do to get ‘heads in beds’ this year.
Stay on top of safety
Safety is always the number one priority and in the past year it has been the key concern for travelers. Of course, hotels have felt the brunt of the pandemic-related economic losses and are well aware of the health and hygiene precautions necessary to keep business going.
Even though health institutions are removing restrictions and everyone seems to be planning a trip this summer, that does not mean that hotels should take their ‘foot off the gas’ in terms of health and safety measures. That said, maintaining clear communication to guests regarding the hotel’s health policies (even if they are continually changing) is paramount as travelers are getting back into the summer travel groove.
These days we have all learned that life is unpredictable and it is important to operate with increased flexibility, as most hotels have done this past year. Cancellation policies should be flexible and communication to guests should be clear in the same way as mentioned above in regard to safety policies.
One way to hedge against potential loss of revenue due to changes in guests’ plans is to offer gift vouchers instead of refunding cash as well as other incentives to make any hotel offer worthwhile in keeping the reservation.
Showcase leisure opportunities
For those hotels that focus on the business traveler, there may be a need to adjust strategies and market towards the leisure traveler. As business travel seems to have a long-lasting stagnation, that is definitely not the case in the leisure segment.
Therefore, promoting the hotel’s facilities and local attractions that cater to a more leisure and diverse guest-base, such as couples, families, and small groups, can bring additional visibility to the hotel and assist in maintaining high occupancy levels.
Don’t forget about the people in your own backyard. Most hotels focus on the traveler and, rightfully so, since they are the ones who typically require a room. However, times have changed and people who have been ‘cooped up’ all year and have not traveled are looking to finally get out but may not be ready or able to go further than their own city or surrounding area.
That said, local travel has made its mark in the US and it does not look like it is slowing down anytime soon. As international travel is taking its time to get back to anything close to resembling normalcy, for the better part of 2021, local travel is still in the driver’s seat.
When it comes to hotel recovery, millennial travelers should be a top priority for every hotel marketer and it all starts with personalization. Even in 2015, American Express Travel reported that 83% of millennials would allow brands to track their habits in exchange for a more tailored experience.
However, personalization is not enough. Hotels need to offer the millennial customizable packages and amenities, authentic experiences via cultural immersion, and unique experiences such as mobile-first touchpoints.
One way to excite the Gen Z traveler is to tap into their emotional intelligence. Connecting with them by making emotional connections via trustworthy information sources and straightforward (even casual) language and experiences is just one chord to strike. Another is amazing customer service which, we hope, all hotels are providing. Finally, having trust in the brand is key as well as offering eco-friendly options. All of these aspects are critical to attracting this type of guest and, if done well, your hotel can be a Gen Z magnetic.
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