There’s little doubt that the hotel sector has been one of the hardest-hit industries; travel has ceased, business meetings are confined to video conferencing, weddings have been postponed, and charity/awards events are all on hold. We have never experienced such a debilitating time. So, it’s hardly surprising that hoteliers are in a state of disarray. A temporary closure is hard enough to deal with, but when it happens so swiftly, and with no definite end date, it makes you wonder what you can do to protect the long-term viability of your business.
However, one thing we do know is that this painful period will end. I also think it’s not unreasonable to assume that business will return fairly quickly. So, assuming you can survive the period of lockdown, what should you be doing to attract business quickly when current restrictions are lifted?
It is fair to assume that many people will miss their overseas holiday; many because of travel restrictions, and others because they don’t have the appetite for travelling abroad at the moment. Indeed, I know from our clients in the hotel trade that there is already a great deal of interest in staycation breaks. Therefore, you should be doing what you can via online advertising to promote your offers to a UK based audience.
Of course, you don’t yet know when you will reopen, but you can be answering enquiries and keeping in touch with those who are making enquiries. Promoting the fact that you will be featuring some reopening offers should encourage people to join your mailing list. For example, develop a none date-defined offer now, but make it clear it will be available to subscribers first, and on a first come first serve basis when the dates are released. This will encourage people to sign-up for further news.
Indeed, focusing on building your database may be one of the most productive things you can do at the moment. Create a reason for them to sign-up. Give them VIP status by offering exclusive deals. Run competitions through your social channels for special discounts and advance access to promotions. The names you can add to your database now will be very useful in driving business in the future, even long after the lockdown period is over.
You should also focus on local business. Many of you may be conducting community-based activities right now. If so, this is helping to build trust capital for the future. If there’s nothing practical you can do at the moment, look at what you might do when your hotel reopens. Perhaps a reopening event? If so, use this to create some engagement now. Again through your social channels, promote that you will be hosting a reopening event. Create social media based competitions to win invitations, drinks or meal packages.
Now, more than ever before, consumers are looking forward to going out when it is safe to do so. Also, social media activity is very high at the moment, so use this opportunity to engage with your online community and provide them with something to look forward to post-lockdown.
The important thing is to communicate and remain visible to potential customers. They are looking for somewhere to go, and you are looking for someone to visit. It may not seem like it from where you are right now, but investing now will pay dividends in the future, and hopefully, the not too distant future. When restrictions are lifted, you must get back to full trading as quickly as possible. Don’t wait; the green light will come, preparing now will help you accelerate from the starting line and take you to a happier place in a much quicker