The COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on the hotel and hospitality industry. And as things change for the better, it’s pretty evident that we’re now in a new normal. For the last couple of months, millions of people have received their COVID-19 vaccines. This allowed many to revisit their 2020’s vacation plans, hoping that their trip destinations are open for travel and tourism.
Today, travel bans have been lifted in several countries across the globe. And this is a positive signal for travelers and hoteliers alike. Now is the time for hotels and accommodation providers to step up their game and make this peak season count.
Below, we’ve prepared a checklist for hotels and accommodation companies to help them operate successfully in the new normal. Keep reading to learn more.
1. Accept Contactless Check-In
Contactless check-in is perhaps the future of the hotel and hospitality industry. Throughout the pandemic, people were required to avoid physical contact with one another. To make your hotel and accommodation premises safe for everyone, you’ll need to accept contactless check-in.
With contactless check-ins, there are no queues in the receptions area or concierges dragging luggage from the parking lot. The system is mobile and highly digitized to limit activities and touchpoints with staff, surfaces and communal areas.
The shift from traditional to contactless check-ins allows for a faster and seamless booking and reception process. For the best results, you’ll need to invest in self-service technologies and tools. These would include digital signage for communication and displaying directions. This will help reduce grouping in common areas. You’ll also need to allow for non-contact payments, which could mean accepting online and mobile banking options.
That said, one of the benefits of accepting a contactless system is that your guests enjoy an exceptional check-in experience.
2. Build a Great Website to Entice Your Guests to Book Directly
The goal of every hotelier or accommodation provider is to increase the number of checks-in through direct booking. The benefit to this is that you minimize the expenses paid to third-party travel agencies. Not to mention the contacts that allow you to communicate with the clients and even target them in your future marketing campaigns.
To achieve this, first, you need to make your website as professional and trustworthy as possible. Here, user experience is everything. If you manage to win your prospects’ attention, they won’t have to browse thousands of options on some OTA websites.
Another thing is to make site navigation a breeze and to use the right font and colour combination. As much as possible, avoid dull themes and excess wordings. And use assuring language on the landing page instead of a salesly tone.
For example, avoid using phrases like “we are the best.” Instead, consider being a bit specific and explain how the client will benefit from your services. For instance, “You enjoy contactless check-in and an ample backyard to spend with your pet and loved ones.”
Last but not least, ensure the prospect can quickly get in touch with you. Instead of displaying only the phone number and email, make sure there’s an active live chat feature and social media contacts. These contacts should be active and supervised throughout the working hours. That way, you’ll avoid frustrating customers with missed emails or unanswered calls or messages.
3. Keep Your Social Media Alive
Digital transformation and rapid tech adoption are changing the entire business landscape. If your hotel or accommodation business has a lousy online presence, you are missing out big. Nowadays, all the great opportunities are found online, and you don’t want to lose them to your competition. The best you can do is to join the game and strive to dominate.
Once you’ve set up your business channels online, the next thing is to develop a social media strategy. This should be customized to work perfectly with your hotel or accommodation business. First, know your target audience so you can narrow down on your ideal market demographic. Find your value proposition and amplify it to get your competitive advantage. This value proposition should be relevant to your target market and should speak to their problems.
Once you are done with all that, use your social media for marketing your hotel business. Leverage your followers to spread the good news about your properties and reward them occasionally for the good work they are doing.
Lastly, always engage with prospects in the comments section. Answer their questions and let them see how welcoming and charismatic you are. Also, share your latest blog posts, events, and any news, then link to your website to drive traffic and conversion.
4. Target Guests Who Can Travel to Your Location
As stated earlier, knowing your target audience is key to success in every business. Before going ahead to spend on marketing campaigns, ensure you are reaching out to the right people. These would be those that can actually visit your hotel or accommodation centre. Here, you need an effective local SEO solution for the site to rank high on local searches.
Here, you want to map out your ideal customer based on their age, likely occupation, and location. Ensure that all your targets are from regions that are allowed to travel to your location. Some things to consider could include whether or not they are vaccinated and the travel ban history in their regions.
Also, check your local rules and guidelines on outside travel. Paying attention to all these factors will help you come up with a cheat sheet. This will minimize time and resources wastage on the wrong targets.
5. Make Sure you’re Following all Government Guidelines
Government guidelines and policies on travel are everywhere, and there are good reasons you should observe them. Perhaps this has something to do with the PR and your business obligation to the government authorities. Even so, sticking with these guidelines is necessary. That is if you are to continue operating your accommodation business legally.
Most of the guidelines will pertain to personal safety and health protocols, such as limits of the persons in communal areas. Or the use of QR code registrations, wearing masks, guidelines for immunized individuals, etc.
Beyond the government policies and guidelines, you can also make your guests feel safer and comfortable. For instance, by offering more than they pay for. You can arrange for medical emergency or ambulatory services in a nearby medical facility. This might add little to your everyday services. But will play an important role in cementing your competitive advantage.
6. List COVID Safety Policy on Your Website
Every traveller is now accustomed to the COVID-19 safety guidelines, and you want to assure them of safety once they enter your premises. One way of doing this is by listing all the COVID-19 safety policies on your website. That way, your site visitors will know that you care about your guests’ health and are committed to keeping your facility in the best conditions possible.
Even so, you don’t want to just list some safety protocols without convincing your prospects that you actually do as you say. A good way to prove your point is by displaying the pictures of banners or sanitizations points within your hotel or accommodation centre. This will work to back up your claim, plus it also helps the prospect develop a mental picture of how safe your property is.
Additionally, have testimonials that capture how you’ve implemented health and safety policies. This, however, shouldn’t be a fake post customized to make a point, rather a genuine review from a real guest with their name and picture displayed. Remember, honesty and trust is everything. So, you don’t want to list or mention amenities or facilities that you don’t offer, as this will kill your reputation and credibility.
7. Ensure Employees are Informed and Equipped to Handle COVID Situations
Your guests want to be served by staff who are aware not only of their clients’ health but also of their own. The last thing you would want is for your guests to comment negatively about your staff.
A solution to such a problem would be to educate your staff about COVID-19 and even to train them how to handle COVID-19 situations. Having a few licensed staff who can conduct CPR procedures would be great, but essential first aid services are also beneficial.
You should also have the resources and equipment necessary to attend to petty medical issues if they occur.
It All Starts Now
If you are looking to take your hotel and accommodation business to the next level, pay attention to the above details. Whether you run a five-star hotel or a one-star accommodation facility, the safety and health of your guests do matter.
And now is the time to rethink how you should operate your business in the new normal. Where necessary, you can contact us to help you go through the above checklist and customize them to suit your unique needs.