As the hospitality industry recuperates from the disastrous effects of COVID-19, one thing has become apparent. It has introduced a series of irreversible changes across the industry, forcing even the largest hotel groups to remold themselves. And in the process, it has inevitably increased the competitiveness of the hospitality landscape manifold.
Today, hotels don't just need to adjust to the newly established norms. They even need to devise ways to retain guests while adhering to the changing economic environment.
But, since the change was too fast it is not uncommon to see the big and small hotels divided over which marketing strategies will work and which won't. If you are also going through the same dilemma, we have accumulated four strategies that you can use to stand apart from the competition in these difficult times. Interested? Let us look into these approaches in more detail.
1. Overhaul Hotel Operations With Digitization
Digitization had long been hailed as an unavoidable phenomenon that would revolutionize every industry on earth. But little did we know that its need would arise so soon and on such a scale.
Today, hotels that stick to analogue operations are nothing more than relics of the past, as guests want everything digital. They want their smartphones to do all the work, from booking rooms to checking out and everything in between. Hence, digitally transforming your hotel is a surefire way to win over the modern consumer. However, offering guests online room booking and payment services won't cut it anymore. You need a digital hospitality solution that offers guests a complete contactless stay experience tailored to their preferences.
For instance, MyCONECT offers a plug-n-play software tool that is centered around two smartphone apps - the Guest App and the Staff App - to equally pamper the guests and hotel employees. The Guest App allows guests to execute most of the front-desk and housekeeping formalities, such as checking in, requesting a valet service, etc., from their own smartphones. It also turns a smartphone into a mobile key or a universal remote to control appliances - TVs, ACs, lighting, etc. inside the room.
The Staff App functions as an intermediary between the staff and the guests and between the different staff members as well. It allows the staff to communicate with each other effectively, perform tasks as per the schedule and, overall, reduce the amount of physical labor.
Such comprehensive technologies might seem like a gimmick, but they are a glimpse of the future where everything will be automated.
2. Bank on Digital Marketing to Increase Online Visibility
Not long ago, having an online presence was optional for most businesses. But, with the exponential expansion of the internet, it has become a marketing necessity. And it is all thanks to the rising dominance of digital marketing over its traditional counterparts.
Digital marketing is highly rewarding if done correctly. But, to really get it right, you need to optimize not one, not two but a whole fleet of distinct aspects such as social media profiles, SEO, OTA rankings, website content, etc. Digital marketing primarily bases itself on content - textual and visual. Thus, to maximize your digital marketing efforts, you need to create consumer-centric content that highlights the best your hotel has to offer.
This means capturing a lot of high-quality photos and videos, creating catchy and relevant social media content, using blog posts to inform the audience, shortlisting positive customer reviews, opting for paid advertisements, offering virtual hotel tours and more.
3. Put Pandemic Protocols at the Top of the Priority List
Once the pandemic subsided (to some degree) and hotels reopened, guests still harbored some hesitation due to the fear of catching or re-catching the virus.
The pandemic has instilled a fear in the minds of anyone who plans to venture out of the safe space of their residence. It has been a few months since the pandemic threat alarm stopped sounding, but its effects are still there. People still worry that they will catch or re-catch the virus.
And the only way to deal with this extreme unease is to assure the guests that your hotel is safe. How? By strictly obeying the COVID health protocols enforced by the authorities.
You need to train your staff, equip them with the right safety equipment, announce a mask mandate, use clean sheets and towels, keep sanitizers handy for everyone, dispose of the waste safely, etc. The point is to show the guests they are entering safe premises.
4. Offer Instantaneous Loyalty Programs
We have all come across reward programs that require us to satisfy certain criteria in exchange for exciting and sometimes practical benefits.
But let us be honest, most of those reward programs are slow-paced and require us to spend more time and money than we think they are worth. And in today's fast-paced world, no one wants that. Hence, if you plan to initiate a loyalty program for your hotel, make sure the reimbursements are immediate.
For example, you can offer a free full-course lunch if a guest plans to stay for more than two days. Or, you can offer discounts in case a customer opts for one of your special hotel stay packages. Okay, we will leave the thinking part to you. Just make sure to not take too much of your guests' time when rewarding them.
For decades, staying ahead of the game has always been a motto for every business. And it is the same in 2022 too. The only added exception is the pandemic's repercussions.
The threat of the virus has receded, but the apprehensions remain, and so do the financial setbacks. The times are tough, but as always, the hotel industry is already making its return to return to the old normal. With changing times, the ways of running a business change, requiring business owners to come up with unique marketing plans.