Covid-19, also known as the Coronavirus, is rapidly becoming a global emergency. Some countries, most notably China, Iran and Italy, have been hit by large numbers of cases. Other countries have seen lower numbers of cases but are being affected by government restrictions and a growing sense of unease in the community, in what the World Health Organization now has officially called a global pandemic. Large events and gatherings have been canceled all across the world, airlines are suspending certain routes, and the US and other countries have instituted travel restrictions.
This has serious implications for the tourism industry. Owners of hotels and vacation rentals are always seeing their businesses seriously impacted by this emergency situation. Covid-19 does not need to be a destructive force to your business, however. You can handle it effectively. Here is some advice on how to deal with the Covid-19 emergency as a hotel or vacation rental owner.
Take the opportunity to improve your service offerings
During the Covid-19 emergency, especially if your property is located in an infected area, your bookings will collapse and your vacancy rates will skyrocket. It is important, however, to focus on the long term. In the short term, your property may be empty and your profits will take a hit. However, take a step back and look at how this period fits into the long-term strategy of your business.
This is a great time to review and improve your offers and services. For example, this will be the ideal time to undertaken maintenance or repairs on your property. You can use the slow period to conduct staff training, either refreshing previous training or adding to their skill set. You can also take this opportunity to develop new offerings of products for your hotel or vacation rental, and in particular to work on your marketing and targeting strategies. This will mean that once this crisis is over, you will be in an excellent position to hit the ground running with your business and make it better than ever before.
During the crisis, it is a good idea to include a message of reassurance in your digital guest communications. As you’re gearing up to deal with the virus at your hotel, provide your guests with up-to-date digital information about the actions you’re taking in regard to health and safety. This will not only enhance the service you offer to your guests but also, it will give them honest, upfront information, which is key during a crisis.
Maintain your rates
During these types of crises, it can be tempting to drop your rates. However, it is important that you hold steadfast and maintain your rates at their current levels. When occupancy rates are slashed due to a global emergency, reducing your rates will have no impact whatsoever on demand. For a guest who is cautious to travel due to health concerns, or is unable to do so because of flight or government restrictions, a lower price won’t convince them to book with your property.
What dropping your rates will do, however, is damage your business over the long term, much more than Covid-19 will. Once you have lowered your rates, it is very difficult to increase them again, and price recovery can literally take years. Therefore, the best solution is to maintain your rates throughout the crisis. A good thing to do at this time, however, is to make cancellation policies more flexible. This will help you to avoid bad reviews from guests who may have already booked but want to cancel because of coronavirus fears.
Maximize revenue from every guest
In the context of a downturn in demand, it is important to make sure you get maximum revenue from every guest you have. Every little bit of revenue helps, so now is the time to put efforts toward optimizing guest experiences. It’s an opportunity to prepare to offer extra services to guests in the future.
This is where extra services come in: our data shows that the highest upselling conversion comes from offering at least eight ancillary services to all of your segments. There are certain things all guests want, such as transportation, food, activities, and a great hotel experience overall. Make sure that your future guests buy these services from you rather than elsewhere.
Keep marketing going
In a similar way, it is important to maintain your marketing strategy throughout the crisis. Continuing with marketing tactics is essential to attract as many guests as possible, as well as to set yourself up for maximum bookings once the crisis is over. You should be honest and upfront in your digital marketing about everything that is happening. This is, for example, an excellent opportunity to let them know about all the changes you are making regarding health and safety.
This is also the time to make practical shifts in your marketing to reflect the current situation. You may, for example, look to target local markets. There could be a great opportunity to host domestic travelers who are unable to go overseas at this time. You may also look for countries exiting the emergency and start targeting their markets also.
Although there is no doubt that Covid-19 represents a significant challenge to hotels and vacation rental businesses, it can also be used as an opportunity. By holding steadfast in your rates and being creative in marketing approaches, you can use this crisis to make your business stronger, so you will be ready to hit your stride again once the crisis is over.
This is also a time to identify your most valuable business partners. These people will reveal themselves through the crisis as the ones who will communicate and cooperate with you to face the emergency together. Although it is difficult to see this global emergency as a blessing, it can be used as an opportunity for hotel and vacation rental owners in a variety of ways.