Clear communication has become more important than ever throughout the pandemic. Globally, there have been 16 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and from the looks of it, the global pandemic is far from over. Travel restrictions have been put into place since March, leaving the majority of countries closed to tourism. This tragedy has forced numerous hotels to rethink their marketing strategies by communicating what protocols their individual properties are undertaking.
Our most recent ReviewPro webinar featured guest speakers from Tripadvisor and Staycity Group. It addressed what hotels should be doing to take control of the situation in order to become a trusted property for guests to travel to.
“Good communication starts with listening and addressing concerns.”
Daniel Craig, the founder of Reknown, explained that the best feedback comes directly from your own guests. As seen in the Survey below, more than 4,000 consumers worldwide were asked what they were looking for in a hotel during the pandemic. The highest volume of responses was related to room cleanliness and social distancing measures. An important takeaway was that guests were more likely to stay at a hotel that offers self-service infrastructures in order to minimize contact with people.
“Create communication objectives.”
Three clear communication objectives that your accommodation should go by to maximize guest satisfaction and drive positive reviews are:
– Reassure and demonstrate to travelers that you understand their concerns
– Build trust and confidence
– Create realistic expectations so they know what to expect
A constructive example of a hotel that has implemented this is the Radisson Hotel Group. They have illustrated images on their website to display what measures they have taken at their properties.
“Reinforce positive messages.”
Create promotions such as free parking or late checkouts to incentivize the customer to book with you. Sometimes it is hard for guests to know whether properties are open or closed therefore it is important to update the hotels’ social media and website on a regular basis with time-stamp posts to show that it is official news. Remember to include relevant information such as the opening hours of establishments on the property or any changes with housekeeping. By providing coaching to your employees, you can ensure that they have access to the latest information so they can answer thoroughly to any questions guests might have.
“Images are the best marketing tool.”
Carefully select which imagery you keep across your communications – ideally include photos that show open spaces and staff cleaning wearing masks and gloves. Tripadvisor conducted a study that states consumers are more likely to prioritize outdoor experiences. Start advertising attractions near your property that could allow the guest to get outside and away from big crowds. This can be easily done by including photos of such places on the hotel website.
“Stay with confidence.”
65% of travelers said they won’t travel until they see physical changes that make them feel safe, said Tripadvisor. Pre-arrival emails outlining safety measures are an excellent way to communicate your protocols. Accommodation providers should start considering keyless entries, online check-ins, visible messaging channels to connect with reception, and digital appliance manuals in order to allow guests to minimize physical contact as much as possible. To promote a transparent environment, ask your guests for feedback both during and after their stay and follow through on their concerns. Highlight how serious the hotel is regarding guest safety and add a human touch. This provides trust and confidence to future guests.
“Maximize Guest Response.”
Now more than ever, it’s important to ensure you can effectively manage guest reviews and have the correct workflows and processes that support a management response strategy. Perhaps, with lower review volume and occupancy levels, you want to review and establish new KPIs, new time deadlines, and which reviews to prioritize. Really maximize the power of review management response and try to steal market share with your response. Whilst bookings have dropped for COVID 19, guests are looking at your reviews and the importance of reviews is more relevant than ever. Therefore, if you have a low review volume, it is essential to not get any negative reviews since it could stay visible for a long period of time. Management response is truly one of the most important tasks a hotel has since it can impact the perspective of a guest and help management guest expectations during the COVID 19 crisis.
In conclusion, clear communication is the key to capturing new guests. Try to gain insights to understand new guest preferences across all stages of their stay. Remember to prioritize operational and service improvements to ensure guest satisfaction. Create touchpoints throughout the guest journey and protect online reputation by exceeding guest expectations.