As we edge closer to seeing properties reopening we have to bear in mind that the market will look very different to what we’ve been used to, and may continue this way for some time. We’ve put together a list of pointers that might help you ease into your new normal:
We’re expecting Corporate guests to be the first to start travelling again as our Government slowly starts lifting restrictions and companies start reopening. Be careful though as Multi-Nationals may be affected by more than one jurisdiction. Also, if self-isolation applies in any region after air travel recommences, this will affect a company’s intentions to travel. We expect Multi-Nationals will also have their own travel policy irrespective of government bans being lifted. So, we would recommend you stay in touch with your local account/travel managers so you can reflect this segment correctly in your forecasts.
As many of us can testify, working from home has become a new norm and many companies will have to keep this policy in place due to social distancing in the office set up. They may also be wary of travelling expenses. This could become a permanent feature of some workplaces. Again, keep in touch with your regular corporate account managers.
For Corporate bookers, if you don’t have a corporate club to reward bookers, maybe that’s something to review for the coming few years. Quite often bookers can reserve their colleagues in hotels of their choice, whereas if rewarded their priorities for booking choices can change.
For Leisure guests, we are expecting that once the ability to travel happens, there will be a rush due to pent up demand as people are desperate for a change of scenery. We are expecting the Staycation Market to perform quite strongly once this happens, so expect a lot of “rubber tyre” guests who’ll be arriving by car and by bike! If you have self-catering, holiday homes and lodges on site, try and capitalise on these accommodation types, as we can already see demand for these.
Along with this surge in demand from your domestic market, we’re expecting a much shorter booking window. You will see an increase in walk ins and in the number of bookings you receive the day before or on the day of arrival. Hold your rate in this case and try not to engage in a price war with your competitors. Make sure that any CTA (close to arrive) restrictions have been removed from your Channel Manager or individual OTA’s so that availability is showing correctly on all platforms. Review and update any message showing on your website or your OTA’s to reflect your reopening dates so that guests always have access to correct and up to date information.#
Review your content with a fresh approach! With more demand from the domestic market and in particular the family market, do your room type descriptions reflect this? Possibly review and increase supplements for this room type; do you have interconnecting room types especially for families with older children, and is this clearly detailed on your website?
Add some value where possible: Ask what is valuable to the staycation market? Complimentary upgrade, free car parking, free pet stays, discount on room service food: this may be the thing that results in them booking with you over your rivals.
Incentivise early guests to share their stays on social media to generate positive sentiment towards travel and your hotel.
We have also seen reservations are coming in for 2021, so keep a close watch on the 6 months + booking window.
For the tours and groups markets, we can see that with restrictions lifting in some jurisdictions like Germany, they do intend to travel in Q4. Watch out for other regions and their travel restrictions. Communication with your inbound operators for different markets is key.
Review your forecast. Reforecasting on a more regular basis has also become a new norm, as reopening dates move. You need to take all the shifting market segments into consideration. Your corporate market segments will be performing quite differently while Coaches and FITs won’t perform as budgeted, but the staycation market will help to pick up some of this slack for the remainder for the year.
Be mindful of the rates you re-enter the market with. While it is important to have your property at an attractive and competitive price to encourage bookings, if you dip too low with your price it may take some time to recover from this strategy. A race to the bottom won’t benefit anyone in the long run.
Lastly, be transparent and proud of the updated cleaning practices that have been put in place at your property and make sure these are communicated clearly to guests at your hotel. Make sure to add these details to a new page on your website and share this on social media too. Potential guests will be looking for reassurance that your hotel is following guidelines to ensure cleanliness is at a very high standard once we can start travelling again.