Countless hotels have been forced to close their doors in the recent months, but now the opportunity of welcoming guests again has become a reality for many. At The Hotels Network, we’ve been using our data to closely monitor the evolution of hotel bookings trends around the world and update daily our dedicated COVID-19 in Hospitality page. As restrictions have begun to loosen up, we’re clearly seeing some signs of hope for recovery. Markets where hotels are opening already, such as Germany or Australia, are experiencing an unmistakable uplift in traffic and direct bookings, primarily driven by demand from domestic markets.
Source: The Hotels Network
Source: The Hotels Network
With the added bonus of perhaps being allowed to welcome internationals tourists earlier than first expected, many hotels today are working on getting their reopening game plan just right. We cannot deny that hospitality as we know it has been transformed, urging the need to look for ways to reinvent the experiences we offer and the way we engage with guests. While the focus for hotels reopening today has to be on the health and safety of their staff and guests, I thought it would be interesting to take a few minutes to look at the wider customer journey.
Your direct website is arguably one of the most important touchpoints you have with guests. The guest experience starts from the very second a visitor arrives on your hotel website, long before stepping into the foyer of your hotel. The modern traveler seeks efficiency, digitalization, and personalization but in a post-COVID world, he or she will also seek reassurance and a feeling of confidence. If your hotel brand is to capture its fair share of direct bookings during reopening, don’t hold back on putting some extra effort in evaluating and redesigning your direct booking experience. It might just make all the difference.
4 reopening tactics to get you started
Over these past weeks, The Hotels Network team has been focused on supporting our hotel clients, with sharing best practices being a significant part of our initiative. Now as hotels are starting to reopen, we’ve realized that many are entering a new stage in their recovery journey, where communication with guests needs to be adapted and personalized. With this in mind, we have put together a new guide focusing on engaging with guests on your direct channel during reopening. To provide some inspiration, I’ve pulled out a couple of simple tactics from our reopening guide that you could apply at your own brand.
1. Notify guests of your hotel reopening plans
Layer on hotel brand’s homepage with integrated countdown clock
When the time comes, make sure guests know first thing that you’re back in the game. People are craving a vacation and want to start making concrete plans. You are probably thrilled to be able to welcome guests again so let that excitement shine through in your messaging. Once your reopening date is decided, you can create a sense of excitement by displaying a Layer on your homepage with a clock counting down the seconds until this special day. What if your reopening date is still to be confirmed? Try launching an Email Capture Layer to collect email addresses as visitors subscribe to your newsletter, allowing you to send them updates about your reopening as well as other marketing campaigns in the future.
2. Reassure guests about safety measures at your hotel
Layer highlighting safety measures and Smart Note reinforcing flexible cancellation rates
As travel restrictions ease, visitors may still be wary of their wellbeing and whether hotels are taking the right steps to keep guests safe. It’s all about building and enabling trust by letting visitors know that at your properties, guest safety is at the top of your list. From the moment visitors arrive on your website, show a personalized Layer informing your visitors about the various preventative measures being taken to ensure their welfare at all times. If you have published a Hygiene & Safety Plan on your website, include a CTA in the Layer where users can click if they want to find more details.
3. Draw attention to the advantages of booking direct
Exit Intent highlighting direct booking benefits
Travel sentiment is slowly recovering, providing you with an opportunity to convert as many visitors as possible directly on your brand.com website. Display an eye-catching Exit Intent message to retain visitors about to leave your website by highlighting all the reasons why booking direct with you should be the only way to go. Don’t forget that an image is worth a thousand words, so in addition to listing exclusive perks, make sure to use the most appealing pictures along with your message. When choosing an image, take into consideration that within the current climate, guests may have different needs and priorities than usual. For example, some may feel reassured to see outdoor photos of nature with guests far from crowds or a secluded sun lounger on a private balcony rather than a bustling restaurant or bar.
4. Think local and get creative
Smart Note promoting take away services
Even if international travel restrictions are starting to be lifted, your domestic market still has a key role to play in your hotel’s path to recovery. Before convincing domestic guests that your property is the best to stay at, it could be worthwhile reminding them of the wonders of the country where they live, and that you can offer them an experience like no other.
When promoting longer staycations, take advantage of geo-targeting options to personalize offers and messages for domestic travelers but perhaps excluding local residents. For locals, try to think outside the box to offer services and experiences that will intrigue visitors and showcase them on your website using messages that only target users located in your town or city. The above example shows how you can launch a customized Smart Note highlighting new restaurant delivery and curbside pickup, so that local visitors know they can enjoy a gourmet five-star meal in the comfort of their homes.
Get the full best practice guide
The speed at which the hospitality landscape is changing is almost enough to give you a feeling of vertigo. Yet something positive I’ve seen coming out of this extraordinary situation is the way our industry as a whole, and the people within it, have pulled together to find creative solutions. As the context is evolving differently in each market and segment, to me it makes perfect sense to try to exchange ideas and learn from the experiences of others.
Here, we have shared just a few examples of how hotel brands have been engaging with visitors on their website during the reopening of their properties. We’ve compiled a whole host of ideas from hotels all over the world who are reinventing the direct booking experience for the new hospitality scene. Download our guide Hotel Reopening Strategies to Engage with Guests Online to discover more.