May 11, 2020
While the travel industry faces unprecedented challenges and everyone is scrambling to adjust, pivot, and streamline operations it is important to maintain critical guest relationships and keep your overall revenue strategy intact. Here are a few tips that can help you along the way.
Take an Honest Look at Your Market
Ask questions like these regularly to evaluate your local market and shift to sustainability and recovery.
- How is your competition reacting?
- Who is changing their rates and by how much?
- Are there any obvious shifts in distribution strategies?
- Are vacation rentals around me opening and when?
- What changes are my competitors sharing with guests?
Create Flexible Cancellation Policies
Many companies throughout the industry from airlines to vacation rentals have made adjustments to cancellation policies. Flexibility and understanding will help your company stand out in the market and build your brand reputation in a positive way.
- Show sympathy and understanding of their decision to cancel.
- Emphasize your concern for their health.
- Would they consider booking at a later date?
- Create loyalty by offering to turn the canceled reservation into credit for a later stay.
- Empower your staff by making them aware of all cancellation, credit, and refund policy changes.
Support your Call Center and Reservationists
Providing guidance for your team is paramount in times of crisis. Make sure you communicate operational changes that will impact all current and future guests. It is helpful to turn this information into a quickly accessible FAQ fact sheet so that they can have commonly asked questions right at their fingertips.
- How can I change or cancel my reservation?
- What if I am canceling my reservation beyond the cancellation window?
- What are your cleaning policies?
- Are there changes to hours for normal services like housekeeping and the front desk?
- Do you have self-checkout or will I need to go to an office?
- Are all of the facilities on property open like the pool and gym?
Frequently engage with your call center staff to understand any changes in guest sentiment. Finding out what guests are asking most often can also help you bulk up your online content to help balance the load.
Make Operational Procedures and Changes Easily Accessible on Your Website
Remove doubt about your brand by sharing critical updates on your homepage. Add things like:
- Public area cleaning procedures
- Rental cleaning procedures
- Changes to check-in/check-out procedures
- Cancellation and re-booking policy changes
- Changes in hours and accessibility
- Links to state or local resources that may be informative (beach closures and openings, weather or burn advisories)
Guard Your Rates & Make adjustments
Track rates in your market closely and make adjustments as needed. Don’t be hasty in drastically adjusting your average daily rates.
- Make special rate considerations for first responders.
- If you have added value incentives, rewards programs, special amenities, Xplorie programs, etc., make sure you are advertising them so that travelers know what they are getting when they stay with you.
- See what competitors in your market are doing. Keep your average daily rates comparable but remember to market what makes your property special.
- Ramp up your marketing as much as your new budgets will allow. Keep your properties in front of potential travelers.
Finalize and Implement Your Recovery Strategy
How are you going to gain revenue momentum? When thinking about your recovery goals here are some things to consider:
- Stay flexible. If this crisis has taught us anything it is that what works today will not always work tomorrow. Make sure your recovery strategy can adapt to new bumps in the road.
- How are you going to adapt your offerings to new traveler behaviors? Look to traveler feedback to adjust your product.
- Evaluate communication strategies and make adjustments to build relationships.
- Special event travel may be one of the first trends when travel resumes. Adjust advertising to reflect any special event offers your properties cater to.
- An uptick in “Staycations” could put you in a good position to advertise to locals.
- Create a marketing campaign to circle back to guests who have canceled and have not yet rebooked. This is a good time to try to gain their business back.
- Stay in the know about rescheduled events, activity reopenings, and conferences to stay in front of those looking to rebook in your market.
Establish confidence in your future with the right long-term recovery plan for you, your market, and your guests. Focus on sustainability and be flexible to make the adjustments necessary to stay competitive in an unknown market landscape.