Fluctuating Government guidelines have reshaped hospitality over the past 12 to 18 months, encouraging hotels to re-evaluate and re-invent their services as we move towards a post-pandemic era.
Both people and business are being forced to re-think what they consider important – whilst constant restrictions have encouraged internal reflection on the things we once took for granted. The hospitality industry is now rebuilding and with the right marketing tools, hotels will be able to adapt their services to meet the current demand.
With ‘Staycations’ on the rise and a vast reduction in international business travel, we have seen a distinct industry focus on domestic vacations. It is essential for hoteliers to keep pace with the current climate – by re-inventing their marketing strategy and tailoring their spaces and services.
With the help of five key tips, you will understand how to create a smooth, memorable experience for your target audience, all the way from the point of booking to when they check-out.
The five tips are as follows:
- Make it experience led
Our latest data indicates that packages have jumped from a 23% share of bookings pre-pandemic to a 32% share of bookings post-pandemic – reflecting a shift in consumer preference, towards a more experience-led stay.
This allows hotels to offer a whole host of services beyond the traditional bed and breakfast – targeted at guests looking for more than just an overnight stay. Our research has also indicated that between five and seven ‘packages’ represents the optimum number a hotel should offer. The more diverse this range, the more likely you are to optimise the benefits of offering packages to your guests.
Start by considering the range of services your hotel can provide – this could be anything from sophisticated wine lists, delicious food to luxurious spa facilities. This will then enable you to tempt your guests beyond the room itself.
- Build loyalty and anticipation before arrival.
After your guests finalise a booking a simple message such as: “Thank you for booking direct, we would like to offer you a free drink in the bar on your arrival,” can really help build anticipation prior to their arrival. The application of a strong CRM system will help target your audience and the use of personalised messages such as this one can really help create a good impression.
It is no secret that direct bookings are favourable for hotels – encouraging this from prospective guests through rewards can also help contribute to the universal education of consumers. If someone books directly with you and receives personalised recognition for doing so, they are likely to replicate this at their next destination, creating a knock-on effect.
- Add value to guest booking journey
A guest’s experience begins well before they pull up outside and enter the lobby. It starts the moment they visit your website (and even before that if using online ads to lure them in). Good first impressions are vital and the overall aim here is to progress the customer from merely visiting to actively making a booking.
A simple, yet effective way of doing this, is through a short booking process. Guests champion easy, stress-free bookings and find it much harder to say no. At this stage you can begin to offer services such as discounted lunch and dinner rates in the hotel restaurant, as a way of saying thank you for booking direct. You can even consider the idea of loyalty programmes – which for some guests can really add value to the booking process.
- Embrace the digital shift
Hardware devices such as in-room tablets are an ever more effective tool in the hotel trade, but when technology is applied across multiple applications, including marketing, booking and other back-office functions it can create an automated yet still personal guest experience. Technology is part of all of our lives, but hotels can separate their offering from the more mundane day-to-day examples by going the extra mile when recruiting technology – using the latest tech to help improve service, efficiency and the overall guest experience.
- Use technology to enhance and innovate
While technology is proving ever more beneficial, balancing technology use with good old fashioned customer service is becoming increasingly challenging. Striking this balance, ultimately comes down the type of hotel – more luxurious hotels often offer a more personable approach as their guests are paying more for the service. However, budget hotels tend to see no objection to swift digital self-check-ins. This is why understanding your audience is so important as you can tailor your services accordingly and use technology appropriately.
When balance is achieved though, technology and traditional hospitality can work in tandem to create a well-rounded hotel experience with greater access to hotel amenities, as well as tailored offers and packages for specific guests. Integrating this with thorough staff training, can really allow your hotel to get the most out of technology and stand out in the guest’s mind.
To summarise, as things return towards some form of normality, it has never been more important to consistently review and adapt your services. Innovation is at the fore and it’s important to keep up. This is a vital step towards meeting the needs and expectations of your guests as we continue to evolve.
Kirsty Beasley, is the Market Development Manager for Profitroom, a provider of hospitality marketing and direct booking solutions.