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How to increase bookings in COVID-19 recovery phase

This part of the hotel COVID-19 recovery series provides in-depth recommendations on what hotels can do to recover from the crisis and increase bookings.

This blog is part 1 of 5 part series. 

Part 1: Recovery in the Pre-Booking Phase.

In the past few months, we all were making forecasts and building timelines on how and when hotels will begin to reopen. Hoteliers were making strategies to survive in this novel coronavirus pandemic.

While all the industries are affected, the travel industry has suffered a major setback. The industry has shown disturbing and significant declines in demand and revenue in the first half of the year.  The number of bookings fell to almost zero for most of the hotels globally.

With travel restrictions removed in some regions, hotels have observed a moderate increase in bookings in the last few weeks. The industry is finally able to regain momentum. The demand to adopt a strategic approach towards increasing bookings has never been greater.

Whether you are the general manager of a mid-size boutique property or the director of a luxurious hotel band, this is the time to prepare yourself to regain footing and take necessary steps as we emerge from this pandemic.

If you run or manage a hotel, these are the few steps which can help you through the recovery phase:

 Re-imagine your website and communication

Update the content of the website so that it is easier for guests to look up for the relevant information.

Travelers are worried about the impact on their health if they decide to travel now or in the near future. Display the health and safety measures being taken in the property to assure travelers of the safe and productive travel. Communicate that the hotel is using contactless technology solutions to ensure minimum human touch. 

Websites should be equipped with all the information about the destination also. The catch here is to not just market the hotel but market the destination. Update the images of the destination and other local areas.

Attract domestic and local travelers 

Since travel to many regions is restricted, hotels should try to attract local travelers. People avoid traveling to long distances and they also have a sentiment to support local economies. Hoteliers should customize creative offers for local travelers and promote them on their website and other social platforms.

Remarketing campaigns

Booking abandonment rate is as high as 75% that’s why It is important to have remarketing campaigns in place. You never know if the potential guest is actually looking for better deals from your competitors. Guests like to do their research before they make a booking. Remarketing to those potential guests who have missed making the purchase helps to close more bookings and lower the abandonment rate. Hotels may offer better deals, upgrades, or some add-ons to retain those bookings.

Hotels may offer better deals, upgrades, or some add-ons to retain those bookings.

Have flexible cancellation policy

Data says that almost 70% of travelers are looking for flexibility to change dates for the reservations. It is important to have flexible cancellation policies and also the flexibility to be able to change dates of the bookings before you roll out your availability on websites and other booking channels. Hotels must update the booking and cancellation policies on their website and with the OTAs. Clear mention of the same in terms and conditions would help hotels capture more confirmed bookings and reduce the cancellation ratio.

Value-added packages and vouchers

Hotels can devise new compelling and creative packages for guests. This can include ‘pay now redeem later’‘ vouchers or gift cards which can be redeemed later in six months or say one year’s time. This would help hotels to get more bookings and ensure cash flow also. 

Business and executive travel looks to be on hold for the rest of the year as they have also started conducting online meetings. But offering such lucrative packages can make leisure travelers and millennials make impulse purchases as they are expected to lead this initial recovery phase.

Marketing campaigns to encourage travelers

People, in general, are spending a lot of time digitally during the lockdown. This would be the right time to make use of marketing in a more targeted fashion.  Many travelers are looking for an escape from their monotonous routine. Leisure travelers would be very keen to plan a trip in the near future. 

Studies reveal that there would be more bookings from millennials. Though they are worried about the outcomes of the pandemic, they are more fearless and eager to step out and explore the world. Hotels need to carefully monitor this evolving trend and plan their marketing campaigns accordingly. They must also adjust their strategy as they demand in the industry shifts.

Leverage data to ensure appropriate distribution mix: Getting more direct bookings has become more important than ever. It is critical to maximizing profitability. However, hotels should have a healthy distribution mix. Dive deep in data to analyze the bookings trend. They need to have clarity on which channel is creating the most demand for the hotel. They must ensure that they are listed on all the channels. Hotels can make use of channel manager to showcase their availability and maximize their distribution.

Try different rate plans Hotels may try different rate plans and combinations to see which rate works best for them. They can compare the prices with their competitors. However, they must keep in mind that they don’t go too low on the room rate. Tools such as an RMS can help you compare rates with your competitors.

To read the next part of our COVID-19 recovery series on how to create a perfect guest experience in the pre-arrival phase, come back on 8th September 2020.

Need help devising strategies to increase your hotel bookings? Click here to book a free consultation with an expert. 

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