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Following Boris Johnson’s latest optimistic announcement on coronavirus guidelines in the UK, it can be difficult to know exactly how to prepare ourselves for what might happen next (unpredictable would be the understatement of the century when it comes to the pandemic!)
However, one thing is abundantly clear for us in the hotel industry – we need a bounce-back strategy, and fast.
While there’s not much we can do about lockdowns, tiers, or the coronavirus measures in general (we can leave that to the politicians and scientists), it’s really important for hotels and hospitality to maintain a presence – both online and in people’s minds.
We recently talked about the specific changes you can make to your search ad campaigns and user experience during the COVID-19 outbreak. If you found this helpful, great! To continue on the same positive trend, we’re continuing to look to the future, and see what you can do today to help build a bounce-back strategy plan for your hotel or hospitality business.
The digital marketing experts at UP Hotel Agency have put their heads together and come up with a few pointers to get you and your hotel started with a roadmap to success (despite the pandemic!) in 2021. Ideal for hotel managers, hotel digital marketers, and hospitality sales professionals alike!
Cater for Core Guests
Use data from your 2020 to dictate your 2021 goals and strategy. Who would you call your ideal audience? What type of guests have continued to book with you, through thick and thin? Have these bookings been direct (we hope so!) or have they mostly been through Online Travel Agents (OTAs)*? Focus on those audiences as your ‘core guests’ and cater to them through your website copy, digital ads (even when they’re not running, so they’re ready for when you switch them back on), and social media (more on that later).
In addition, 2020 focused heavily on providing new options and opportunities to recoup revenue from guests.
Remember when traditionally sit in-only restaurants started providing takeaways? This is a perfect way to supplement food and beverage (F&B) and boost your orders throughout the pandemic, and it’s definitely something we foresee continuing into the summer of 2021.
In particular, we noticed that this really aided smaller hotels and B&Bs with slower uptake on Mondays to Wednesdays (typically the slowest days in the hospitality industry), so if you’re stuck for a way to boost your income through the beginning-of-the-week lull, this would be your prime opportunity!
While these have historically been reserved for spa breaks and Mothers’ Day brunches, the rise of the gift voucher has been a surprising return to glory for the hotel industry in the past year.
Hotels can offer a fixed-rate voucher to future guests with flexible cancellation or date rearrangement policies, meaning that anyone can book a stay, pay upfront, and stay whenever they like (or, in this current climate, whenever they can).
This might seem a little jarring to any hotel owners who are used to strict online bookings, and it may take a little getting used to. But in the long run, you’ll thank yourself for finding a way to boost your revenue now, rather than waiting for a later date. (Remember when we thought the lockdown might just be for a couple of weeks? Yes, us too!)
Taking Care of Business
When looking over your figures from 2020, you might notice a lack of leisure bookings. While lockdown has affected the general public for the best part of a year, business bookings and corporate stays have been keeping the hotel and hospitality industry afloat, and is something that certainly warrants rewarding!
Make this proposition even stronger in 2021. Focus more on driving business and corporate stays through special weekday offers and remote working opportunities for business on-the-go. For the more adventurous hoteliers, look towards more of a subscription model to secure long stays, not just leisure weekend bookings. (Personally, we think travel subscriptions will be the next big trend in 2021, so why not stay ahead of the curve?)
We cannot emphasise this enough – you need to talk to your potential guests. It doesn’t have to be all doom-and-gloom, “the hotel is closed for the foreseeable future”, etc. In fact, we’d strongly argue against posting only negative content about your site. Leave that in 2020.
2021 should focus not just on reminiscing on the good times (and how excited you are as a hotel to bring those days back to life for your future guests), but also social engagement.
Engage more with your loyal guest base or new audiences (remember what we talked about above – focus on your core guests). Keep your social media followers posted about what’s going on in the hotel, what to generate excitement about (whether it’s local events, summer, even a new menu taste-testing in your restaurant). For the more tech-savvy, broadcast Q&A sessions and live social media from your hotel to show that you’re still alive and kicking, and ready to step into 2021 with enthusiasm and preparedness.
Other Quick Tips
- Monitor Google search trends (you can use Google Trends for free) for local searches i.e. “hotels in manchester”, “budget hotel london”, and other relevant terms. Use this to gauge if there is a pickup in interest, and use this to dictate what you must do next.
- Follow hospitality publishers for trends and forecasts on social media. For Twitter users, we recommend @PPaulCharles, or alternatively, BBC Coronavirus News publishes the most up-to-date COVID-19 news for more general worldwide coronavirus updates.
Like what you see?
Need a new website for your hotel business? Feel like your digital marketing needs a refresh? Would you like more direct bookings? Or perhaps you’re looking to step UP your career with an award-winning digital agency? However you want to work with us at UP Hotel Agency, we’re always here to talk about your business needs (usually with a cup of coffee and a donut). Ping us a message – we can’t wait to hear from you!