5 effective COVID-19 recovery strategies for hotels
11th June 2020
Undoubtedly, the harsh impacts of the Covid-19 crisis will last for quite some time, but with the lessening of lockdown- at least here in the UK - hotels are quickly preparing to re-open their doors to welcome guests in what is going to be the ‘new normal’.
How fast the hotel industry will recover is yet to be seen but certainly, a great deal of effort is required by hotels and serviced apartment operators to find new ways to reduce costs, review operations, implement new procedures, train staff on how to handle the new normal, adopt technology solutions to streamline processes and, last but not least, build the trust of those guests who, even if willing to travel, are concerned about their safety and wellbeing.
We have compiled a list with 5 effective recovery strategies to help hotels plan their return after Covid-19.
1. Communicate new cleaning procedures
During the lockdown, hoteliers have spent a lot of time planning and implementing new cleaning procedures to protect the safety and wellbeing of both their staff and guests. Now is not the time to be shy about the steps you have taken or new measures you have deployed to keep the environment within your hotel safe.
Large hotel chains like Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and Sandals are widely and extensively communicating their new cleaning standards and protocols as they know that their future depends on the level of trust they will manage to gain from their guests.
The chains are communicating their plans including social distancing where possible, enhanced cleanings in guest rooms, lobbies and public areas, and even more than before have a strong reliance on their mobile app and its functionalities to communicate, to reduce touchpoints and improve the guest experience.
Recent surveys and data suggest that people’s intent to travel and stay in a hotel is slowly picking up and will grow as we move toward the end of the year and into 2021, but travellers want to be reassured as they need to feel safe.
2. Rethink the guest experience
In adopting new cleaning protocols and putting new procedures in place, hotels must re-think the guest experience - pre, during and post-say - to address any concerns that might affect guests and hotel’s staff.
Michel & Taylor have published the free comprehensive guide Covid-19: Hotel Reopening Planning that is a good resource to use to check that all areas of the hotel and all stages of the guest experience have been thought through carefully and possible issues have been addressed and resolved ahead of time.
A great guest experience starts with early and ongoing engagement and engaging with regular and valuable guests is now more important than ever. When planning a weekend away, people are likely to prefer to return to a place they know and trust rather than visiting a new one. And when it comes to safety, uncertainty is not an option.
Connecting with previous guests and sending them an email with a positive message, reassuring them with your new cleaning protocols and inviting them back, while highlighting your new cancellation policy, can only bring good results. And reassuring them that there’s plenty to do for many return visits will ensure they feel comfortable that there’s more to explore around you. Consider packaging various trips into your app, for example a 2-day trip, what to do, etc.
3. Prioritise domestic travel
From a marketing perspective, any advertising spend and promotional activity should be focused on the domestic market. It will take time before airlines overcome the borders and quarantine restrictions that are creating unprecedented challenges and before travellers will feel comfortable to travel across countries again.
Meanwhile, people who will want to celebrate special occasions or are in real need of a break will travel within their own country and this represents an opportunity hotels can capitalise on.
As the world has changed, it is also important to think outside the box and consider the new needs of different sectors and how hotels and serviced apartments can meet those needs.
Companies and organisations might have temporarily closed their offices and might be looking for new spaces that, for the time being, enables social distancing meetings. Other businesses might consider booking serviced apartments for long periods of time to act as safe spaces for offices and important gatherings.
4. Embrace mobile technology
Before COVID-19, hoteliers knew that mobile devices are now omnipresent and play an ever-important role in people’s lives, simplifying the way we interact, purchase and manage many aspects of our day to day activities. Technology is moving faster than ever, offering now hoteliers tools to engage with guests, enhance the guest experience and increase upsell opportunities.
After COVID-19, with social distancing and the newfound fear of touching surfaces in public spaces, the adoption of mobile technology, and therefore mobile apps, is no longer an option to be considered, but a must.
Larry Mogelonsky, one of the world’s most published writers in hospitality, recently said in an article: “The coronavirus has accelerated the trend of making a guest’s phone the primary point of communication to the hotel’s staff, and as such we all need to devote our resources to make the mobile experience frictionless and omnipresent.”
In another recent article, Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta said that "comeback depends on how quickly contactless tech features roll out". He mentioned how the Hilton Honors app, which offers digital check-in and digital room key, will become a key component of the company’s health and safety measures going forward. “Certain mechanical elements of the experience are going to be digitised, but that was happening anyway. It’ll just happen faster" he added.
Hotel chain CitizenM, which has been paving the way in adopting digital solutions to enhance the guest experience via check-in kiosks and in-room tablets, has recently released the CitizenM App to enable guests to have everything they need on their own mobile phone.
At Criton, we help luxury hotels and serviced apartment providers create their own branded mobile app to digitise the guest compendium, reduce touchpoints, enable chat and food ordering, and offer digital check-in and mobile key. We’re delighted and proud to be able to help hoteliers during this crisis and, for this reason, we are offering our base product completely free of charge until 2021.
5. Leverage the power of technology
Technology platforms now play a key role in helping hotels streamline operations, reduce costs, make guests feel safe and maximise upsell opportunities. Many hotel tech providers are currently supporting operators with special offers to help them get back on their feet.
While Criton is offering our guest engagement platform free of charge until 2021, Inspire Loyalty is offering its loyalty system for free to Criton clients in 2020; Right Revenue is offering its revenue management software for free for a month; Hotel Benchmark offers its premium report free for a month to compare performance against competitors; For-Sight offers its CRM and marketing solution free for three months; and these are just a few.
Crisis is not paralysis and tech and hotels are working together, now more than ever, to build a brighter future.
How Criton can help you?
Criton is an award-winning technology provider which enables hotels and serviced apartment operators to take the guest experience to the next level with a sophisticated mobile app. Criton helps hotels to streamline the entire guest journey and maximise in-stay revenue. Get in touch today to find out how we can help your business.