Every time we hear that a hotel is reopening, we breathe a small sign of relief. These last few months have been filled with uncertainty, financial hardship, stress and a longing for normalcy. Hotels reopening and people returning to travel signals that life is slowly starting to return to normal. As you begin to bring back your furloughed employees and unlock your doors for business, you will quickly notice that things are not what they used to be. As you work through your reopening strategies, here are five of the biggest changes to keep in mind.
1) Your Policies Need to be Clear Before Guests Arrive
One thing that we can learn from the reopening of retail is that not everyone feels the same way about wearing masks. As a result, your health and safety policies need to be crystal clear to guests, before they arrive at the hotel. People staying at a hotel might feel like they’re more at home versus a public space so make it clear where masks must be worn and set expectations before the stay.
The pre-stay email is a great place to include your policies to ensure that guests know what to expect when they arrive on the property. In addition, if you have closed outlets or are operating with modified hours, make sure that’s clear to guests before they arrive or you risk disappointing them, which is often hard to recover from.
2) Warmth Will be Harder to Achieve
Masks, plexi shields and social distancing all create physical barriers between staff and guests. Sadly, they also create emotional barriers. Smiles are hidden, laughs are muffled and it’s harder to create connections. Hotel staff will need to find new ways to show warmth and caring.
A daily on-premise email featuring staff and their top picks of places to visit and things to do in the area could show the personal side of staff and allow guests to get to know the people behind the masks. This email is also a great way to let your guests feel like locals, which is what many of us crave when traveling.
3) Cleaning becomes public
In the past, the cleaning of public spaces was often done late at night so guests wouldn’t have to witness mop buckets and industrial cleaners. Today, guests want reassurance that cleaning and sanitizing is being done at regular intervals throughout the day and night. While the cleaning shouldn’t get in the guests’ way, it’s ok for guests to witness counters being wiped down, elevator buttons being sanitized, door handles being cleaned, etc.
4) Guests will Need Assurances
With mixed messages from government and officials about the safety of travel, guests will need reassurances from you about whether it’s prudent to stay in hotels. Focus on social proof and share stats in your marketing around the safety of travel in your market. Feature reviews from guests that stayed with you recently and commented on cleanliness. People are eager to get out of their homes, but many need to be reassured that it’s safe, so share your cleaning policies and be ready to answer guests’ questions about how you will ensure their safety.
5) Segmentation Will be Critical
Segmentation of your email database has always been important for driving the best open and click-through rates but now it’s more important than ever. With drive-to leisure business returning first, hotels should focus their marketing efforts on past guests who live within driving distance to the hotel. By personalizing your email content to this audience, you will have the best results.
As your hotels begin welcoming back guests, you need to stay nimble and prepared. Information about the virus and government policies are changing daily and your ability to react and respond quickly is critical. To learn more about what marketing strategies you should employ as your hotels reopen, check out our recovery guide.