As the Coronavirus continues its rampage around the globe, hoteliers are left wondering how best to handle this highly unique crisis. And although states like Georgia, Oklahoma and Alaska have begun loosening lockdown orders, allowing spas, salons and barbershops to reopen, hotels will most likely be the last phase in this process. With occupancy on a rapid decline and social distancing measures in full effect, it is critical to stay in touch with customers, especially to get a sense of how they perceive the current situation.
Do: Respond to your reviews. Since more than just the sheets have changed, guests have a lot more to report on. Noticeable changes like low occupancy rates, increased health and safety measures and fewer available amenities (eg. gyms, spas and pools) can all make their way into a review. And in these particular circumstances, guest complaints may only show up online as customers may not feel comfortable speaking to staff face to face. So how do you respond? Be honest and transparent, let your guests know you are taking extra precautions and that their safety is your number one priority. When potential guests begin to travel again they will take comfort in knowing you have their best interests at heart. It is important to be prepared for a recovery post crisis so you and your guests can benefit immediately.
Do: Communicate through social media platforms. Regularly post any changes at your property and answer any questions your guests may have regarding upcoming travel plans. This will decrease negative reviews, since guests will know what to anticipate upon arrival. Ensure that your new hygiene and safety standards are clearly communicated on your social platforms. This will bring ease to your potential guests and build trust that you are doing your best to provide a safe environment during travel. You can also use these sites to gather information about your guests, what they are thinking about or what concerns they may have regarding travel. We are all in this together, so let the public know in your posts!
Do: Optimize your website for mobile use. 53% of web traffic occurs on mobile devices and in times of crisis that number will only go up as people are glued to their phones, now more than ever. Update or add an FAQ page, if you don’t already have one and highlight relevant questions like cancellation fees or changes in hours of operation. Adding AMP, or accelerated mobile pages, to key pages on your site can lead to faster loading times and increased online visibility as they are preferred by Google.
Do: Claim and update your Google Business listing. This is especially important for local web traffic because if you don’t update your local listing, Google will do it for you! Once you have claimed your listing that will remove the disclaimer that Google will put up about your property’s information potentially not being up-to-date. Update your listing with any closures, changes in operating hours or special COVID procedures to avoid any confusion with guests at check in. Don’t forget, many travelers rely on Google for at a glance information before making a decision on where to stay. Taking the time to update your business listing not only increases your visibility on Google but also shows travelers you’re available for booking.
Don’t: Refuse to adapt. This is an unprecedented time, expected to be 9 times worse than 9/11, with a predicted loss in over $500 million in revenues for the travel industry alone. With numbers that daunting, it only stands to reason that recovery will be slow and that it will take a long time for the demand to be what it once was. Keep up with industry trends and research to stay ahead of the game. The way people will travel will also change with health and safety standards becoming a top priority as well as the need for personal space. Keep an open mind for new use cases for your hotel such as isolation facilities or day time workspaces. With inevitable transformations on the horizon, adaptation is key.
Don’t: Forget about your staff. They are the front line of your operation and as a result are the first people your guests will interact with. Holding weekly or daily meetings to keep staff apprised of any changes in procedures will decrease any awkward situations that can arise. Ensure the safety of your staff by providing all the necessary personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves and sanitizer. Remember you are all on the same team, working towards a common goal!
Don’t fret- Travel will make a comeback and many experts are predicting an initial rise in domestic versus international travel. With many travellers anxious but fearful to travel, the road trip might be the first attempt to venture out, especially since the impact of the virus has left many with less money for non essential travel. Make sure you are prepared by maintaining your online reputation. Tailor social media posts for local and statewide travel and consider partnering with other local businesses to offer guests packages that can help the whole community recover! Remember, Review My Room is an integral business partner interested solely in the success of your hotel. We are here to help you get through this crisis and can help with review and guest communication if this seems too daunting. Keep communicating and talk to us about how to best handle this unprecedented situation, we can help!