As we continue to make our way through the single biggest global crisis in recent memory, hotel owners are left not only with vastly reduced occupancy, but also with the burden of dealing with a “new normal.” As hotel owners consider how to move forward, there are three key areas to focus on: enhanced cleaning protocols, marketing those protocols effectively, and finding creative ways to get more bookings.
Enhance Your Cleaning Protocols
According to a very recent Tripadvisor survey, 86% of consumers say cleanliness will be very important when selecting an accommodation after COVID-19. Top considerations of those surveyed included the availability of hand sanitizing stations, sealed amenities, frequently disinfected guest rooms and the use of temperature checks for employees and guests.
We all know that the old way of cleaning hotel common areas and guest rooms is done and over. It’s time to develop a brand new cleaning protocol that eliminates all fear and puts your employee’s and guest’s minds at complete ease. One important thing you can do to increase your guest’s peace-of-mind is let them see your staff frequently cleaning the common areas. Once something to be hidden or done after hours, sanitizing and cleaning is now a practice to be flaunted. The more your guests see staff spraying and wiping down elevator buttons, stairway railings, door handles and front-desk countertops, the more peaceful and comfortable they will feel. Be sure to let all of your staff know this is an important practice throughout the property.
In addition to frequently cleaning common areas, room-cleaning efforts must be being bumped up as well. For example, hotel management company Aimbridge Hospitality recently launched AIMclean – an internal, 3-part employee certification program based on CDC cleaning guidelines and developed with the help of Ecolab. Other companies such as Marriott International, are announcing that they will disinfect using electrostatic sprayers which use hospital-grade disinfectant to rapidly sanitize surfaces. Do everything you can do to make guests feel they can trust the cleanliness of your property.
Market with These Protocols as a Central Theme
Once you have new cleaning protocols in place, it’s time to make them front-and-center in all your marketing efforts. Take your cue from brands like Marriott, Holiday Inn and Hilton who are all placing their cleaning and safety protocols up front:
But don’t stop at just cleaning processes, guests are also very concerned with a hotel’s cancellation and change policy. In this ever-changing COVID-19 environment, travel plans made today may have to change as government mandates change. The more flexible and clear your cancellation and change policies are, the more comfortable guests will be making reservations.
Hilton offers their policy right on their website home page: “We’re giving you peace of mind with free changes and cancellations up until the day before arrival for new, individual reservations made by August 31, 2020.” When a guest reads that, any worries they had about losing their money disappears. Marriott has a detailed and very flexible cancellation policy posted clearly on its website as well. Your task is to consider how you can offer the most peace of mind to your potential guests during these very uncertain times.
Find Creative Ways to Capture New Guest Reservations
The hotels that bounce back from COVID will be the ones who take a creative approach to finding new business. Think about it, all of your competitors are in a similar situation and are vying for the same reduces number of travelers. The more unusual marketing strategies you come up with, the more likely you are to survive. Think about offering discounted gift cards to be used in the future or travel getaway deals that can be cancelled up until the day before. Think outside the box and maybe even have your staff brainstorm ideas as well. The more ideas you get, the more likely there will be some nuggets of gold in the mix.