Munich, April 2020 – Corona has the world firmly in its grip and the hotel industry has been particularly hard hit by the crisis. The highs recently reached in RevPar are moving into the distant future and the exaggerated lease agreements of recent years will now return to the businesses concerned like a boomerang. This is particularly significant because many experts agree that there will be no quick recovery. On the contrary, the subsequent competitive pressure will cost further victims! Everyone is therefore well advised to take a comprehensive stand and react now.
The ordered short-time work is necessary and sensible, but by no means for all departments. Marketing in particular is especially challenged in times of crisis. Here it is now necessary to be particularly active, because the coming battle for customers will be harder than ever before. The financial crisis was a shock, but the current events are much more dramatic. But as with every crisis, there will not only be losers but also winners this time.
The call for politics
Politicians are called upon to take action, but to rely on the fact that one’s own farm can be kept alive by the measures alone is extremely dangerous. It is up to the management and this is where the wheat will be separated from the chaff.
Not lowering prices, but removing booking barriers
Many hotels will cut prices sharply in the battle for customers. But the uncertainty about whether the pandemic will return will make both companies and consumers cautious. So what to do? Eliminate booking barriers! Make it easy for the customer!
During the already mentioned financial crisis, car sales slumped dramatically. In the USA, Chrysler recorded a minus of 55%, Mercedes a minus of 36%, BMW dropped by 16%. This was despite massive price reductions and special offers to encourage consumers to buy. But the buyers were simply afraid of losing their jobs and horrendous discounts do not help. The Korean supplier Hyundai increased by 9% in contrast to the established suppliers! There were no discounts granted, but they advertised that they would pay the installments if a buyer lost his job. Hyundai had understood what the customer wanted – namely security. Revenue managers should follow this example and adjust the cancellation policy.
You can learn a lot from the Asian markets, after all, they are “pandemic-proof”, unlike us. In the wake of the SARS epidemic in 2002/3, hotels did not react with special prices but relied on packages, among other things, and with success.
Communication has never been more important
Many hotel operators have sent almost all their employees home, including the marketing department. But communication is particularly important in a crisis.
Your guests want to know how you are doing
Existing customer management (CRM) plays a special role especially in times of crisis. Crises offer the chance to move closer together, to close emotional bonds. Today, digital media make it possible to stay in contact with everyone worldwide. Share your emotions via social media and send regular updates via newsletter. Diving into communication now is fatal!
But success depends on the reach. The more people are contacted, the greater the chances of success. But in many places marketing distributors have suffered a massive slump since the introduction of the GDPR. But this does not have to be the case. E-mail marketing in particular can also be carried out without consent. This is where hotels have serious advantages over online shops.
It has never been cheaper and easier to stay in contact with your guests than today. In times of crisis it is necessary to communicate actively and with high frequency. What happens in your business, offer vouchers, inform about changed booking conditions, special hygiene measures or focus specifically on regional markets. For example, search queries on the web for domestic offers have doubled in recent weeks! So be active.
To increase the range in the future, the time can now also be used to convert the WiFi. Instead of providing anonymous access, registration should be mandatory. In addition to the guest profiles in the PMS, you will also receive marketing profiles from accompanying persons and day guests. This is also a good strategy to complete booking profiles of OTA customers. dailypoint offers an interesting solution with Smart Wireless. Today hotels should have valid email addresses of at least 85% of their guests. If this is not the case, there is an acute need for action.
The rating portals play a central role in acquiring new customers. The position of a hotel there is a central component in the purchase decision. The number of current ratings is decisive for the position. So why not use the time and improve your own position there? Ask all your guests from last year for a rating, for German-speaking guests there is HolidayCheck, international TripAdvisor and for gmail users Google. Happy is of course the one who uses a professional questionnaire system. Recipients don’t have to log in with a lot of effort before they can give a rating. This is done by the questionnaire system. The golden rule is: the easier you make it for the customer, the more success you have. It would of course be professional to filter out all recipients who have already rated. But many will not be able to do this.
Now is the time to develop strategies
The management should use the current silence to invest in their own strategy. Something that is often pushed to the back in the hectic pace of daily business. Especially the IT landscape has to be rethought in many places. On average, a consumer has almost 30 different profiles during the customer journey. This system usury has to give way in favor of a strategy where the guest with his central profile is once again the focus of attention.
Now would also be the right time to set up a loyalty program or integrate a direct booking club for your own website.
Corona is an extreme challenge, especially for our industry. Be active and do everything in your power to counteract it. Even if demand is currently tending towards zero, now is the time to set yourself up accordingly. Because even the worst crisis will pass at some point!