Expert’s Voice: Need hotel guests? The search starts at home
Ines Barreiros, ecommerce and digital marketing manager at Guestcentric’s Lab division, offers seven tips to help hotels target domestic travellers better during the pandemic.
Despite ever-changing travel restrictions and halted international travel, consumers are still exploring their home soil. According to data processed by Guestcentric’s Hotel CRS and published in the 12th edition of The Hotelier PULSE Report, domestic travel has overtaken international travel for the first time since 2015. In fact, domestic hotel bookings sit at over 50%.
Furthermore, the ongoing industry research reveals that nearly 70% of hoteliers surveyed in February 2021 expect domestic travel to make the most significant contribution to the industry’s recovery. Hotels are now in the position to reshape their offer to capitalise on this demand during current low levels of commercial activity.
Below are seven strategies your hotel can implement to engage domestic travellers on the road to recovery:
1) Partner with local providers
Now is the time to revisit what your hotel can offer in collaboration with the local attractions and services. This will not only create added value to guests, but also promote your destination and help the local community.
Let’s say your hotel doesn’t have a spa and there is one nearby. Your hotel can partner with the local spa to create a package that includes not only the accommodation, but also a massage. It’s a win-win situation for not only your guests and the local community, but also your hotel.
Travellers continue to seek local experiences and they want to have a ‘holiday’ feeling. It’s important to guarantee this experience for guests who stay at your hotel. Through local partnerships, you can still differentiate your hotel brand in the market.
So instead of lowering your rates, get ready to create added-value packages that tie in with local attractions and services. Meals, spa services, tours, workshops – anything that is available in your area and that your guests will value makes sense for your hotel.
2) Offer home-office packs to the rising remote workforce
With a large percentage of the global workforce either strongly encouraged or forced to work remotely, hotels can shape their offers around this phenomenon. Remember, many will be looking to escape from a tiny apartment or even a large house with many distractions such as children, pets, roommates, noise and other distractions.
There are two ways your hotel can respond to the rise of remote working. Your hotel could offer a room that’s converted into an office from 8am to 6pm. The other option is to offer a long-stay package that allows workers to sleep and work in a different environment instead of being stuck at home. Professionals will certainly appreciate the change of scenery and access to amenities your hotel can offer.
People who can no longer access their office or don’t feel safe doing so need a quiet, clean place to work without distractions, and hotels are the perfect place to do so. This, allied to very low occupancy rates in most hotels during these times, is a great way to generate revenue.
3) Create offers that adapt to curfew restrictions
If curfews have been imposed on your destination, make sure you adjust your check-in and check-out hours to match the requirements. This will help your guests comply with the region requirements and still travel.
For example, if there’s a weekend curfew, where people can only walk outside during the morning, your hotel can create an inside package for locals that includes an indoor programme.
A great example of this idealised and put in place is being done by a European five-star boutique city centre hotel – Memmo Príncipe Real. This hotel created a package that includes a dinner to take advantage of their F&B capabilities and one free night’s stay. How could anyone refuse?
4) Partner with local influencers
While being stuck at home, consumers have been spending more time than ever on social media and interacting actively with content creators. Trusted social media influencers continue to grow to be a reliable source of information and an effective, authentic way to communicate with your audience.
The Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: In Brands We Trust revealed that 63% of 18-to-34-year-olds trust what an influencer says about a brand more than what the brand says about itself in advertising.
Partnering with local or national influencers can provide hotel brands with quick and less-expensive content at a time when large-scale ad production may be difficult. This approach can also be very efficient with your target audience and lead to higher engagement rates.
Whether you partner with an influencer to assure your guests your health and safety procedures are in place, to show off your ‘home’ office rooms, or promote your hotel as the place to spend some relaxed days in these chaotic times, make sure their audience is a match for your brand.
5) Make sure your hotel website speaks the same language as your guests
The website opening language for most hotel websites is English, the universal language. But with international travel on hold, hotels need to adapt to the language of the local market.
Right now, if you want to target the domestic market and your hotel is not located in an English-speaking country, you should change the opening language to your country language. This way, the visitor not only saves one step, one click less, but also feels your hotel is communicating with them and focused on their needs.
6) Review and update your hotel website content
Your hotel’s success largely depends on the ability to adapt to the new reality and to stay relevant, visible and engaging as the situation evolves. Your hotel website needs to be a reflection of this, and as such updated with the latest information.
Visitors to your website should immediately understand which activities are available and what attractions can be visited around your hotel. If you have changed your cancellation policy to be more flexible, this should be clearly showcased to your guests.
It’s important that visitors also feel assured about the health and safety measures your hotel is taking during this time.
Let’s say your hotel used to promote proximity to nightlife in the centre of a very cosmopolitan city. This message is not only irrelevant, but could actually be harmful to your brand. Instead, you should adapt your messaging to reflect new selling points – such as empty beaches or local, socially distanced walking guides.
Remember, your hotel’s website needs to reassure potential guests of your property’s current operational status, preventative measures, special offers, cancellation policies and safe local experiences.
7) Create and offer gift vouchers to guests
Birthdays, anniversaries, expressing thanks or lifting someone’s spirits are all-year-round reasons why people buy gifts. Gift vouchers are a win-win situation that can both instantly increase your hotel’s cashflow and give guests something to look forward to and enjoy in the future.
Gift vouchers can be used to sell night stays, package stays, hotel services independently (such as dinners or spa treatments), or even a monetary value to spend on any of the above. But remember, gift vouchers can not only be used in the near future for locals only, but also for international travellers in the more distant future. Bear this in mind when defining the expiration date of each voucher.
While many people can’t or do not want to travel right now, that doesn’t mean they’ve lost their appetite to experience new things and discover new places. Actually, it has the opposite effect: they want it now more than ever.
For more information, please visit the Guestcentric website.
Ecommerce and digital marketing manager at Guestcentric’s Lab division
Ines Barreiros is an ecommerce and digital marketing manager at Guestcentric’s Lab division, a service specialised in maximising hotels’ online presence and direct revenue. Her extensive hospitality knowledge and digital expertise have been instrumental in helping numerous hotels across Europe.
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