The hospitality industry has been turned upside down by the pandemic over the last 12 months, but travel is starting to open up again. Research has found that 57% of consumers plan to book a trip within two months of restrictions easing.
However, the traveller mindset has evolved, and priorities have shifted. Hotels must adapt to meet these new demands. According to a recent study, 30% of consumers will spend more time planning their next trip to avoid COVID-related risks. They will pay more attention to the details and will value transparency and trust.
If you want travellers to consider staying at your hotel post-lockdown, you should consider adding more touchpoints to your communications strategy to keep your hotel top-of-mind. Your guests will be looking for peace of mind on their next trip and you can provide this by keeping in touch with them every step of the way.
Introduce a segmented approach to your guest communication strategy
During these uncertain times, it’s vital to communicate and connect with your guests at every step of their journey. Through personalised and automated communication, you can build their confidence in your brand and reassure them that you’ve considered every element of their stay. The best way to do this is by maintaining a consistent level of communication from start to finish. One pre-stay email is no longer enough.
The guest experience begins long before check-in and long after check-out. By providing relevant, timely communication at every stage, you can improve the overall guest experience. To help you incorporate this approach, we’ve put together an outline of the guest journey and how you can keep in touch at every phase to win their trust and stay top-of-mind.
Step 1: Booking their flight or train ticket
The first phase of the guest journey is the inspiration phase. This is where your guests are considering where to travel to. This initial phase sets the stage for the trip and provides you with an opportunity to encourage travellers to choose your destination.
While you won’t have the contact information of prospective guests, you can reach out to your previous guests to keep them engaged and updated. You can also use the data you’ve collected to proactively target them with personalised communication.
In addition, your social media accounts are a great way to engage with prospective guests. Turn your page into a local resource by posting helpful updates, links to information sources, travel blogs, activities, and videos. Guest reviews and testimonials are also very effective at improving consideration.
Step 2: Booking their hotel
Once your guests have booked their flight or train ticket, the next phase of their journey is finding somewhere to stay. Post-lockdown, travellers are expected to spend more time travel planning and looking into the finer details. In a recent study by Oracle, 60% of consumers said that improved cleaning procedures would make them feel more comfortable staying at a hotel. 82% also want hotels to share their virus safety protocols as evidence that they’re doing everything they can to prioritise the health of their guests.
This is your opportunity to demonstrate that you’re doing exactly that. Create a clear outline of the changes you’ve made to your safety procedures and add this to your website. You can also share common FAQs to answer any pre-booking questions. Your guests will be seeking peace of mind, so addressing any concerns in this consideration phase is a must if you want travellers to choose you.
Step 3: Finding out how to get from the airport or train station to the hotel
After booking their stay at your hotel, your guests will look at ways to reach the property. You want to make sure their journey is hassle-free, so this is a great opportunity for you to share transport options and local information. Research has shown that many travellers no longer feel safe using public transport and will avoid it post-lockdown. To make sure your guests feel comfortable travelling to your hotel, you should consider partnering with a hotel transfer provider.
For example, if you partner with Welcome Pickups, your guests will receive an automated email once they’ve booked their stay to explain how they can reach your property. Your guests will then have the option to book a private transfer through a personalised link, created just for your hotel. With protective equipment, car sanitation, contactless rides, and gaps between rides to allow for ventilation, this is the safest transport option for your guests. Incorporating this into your offer will also demonstrate that you’re putting their safety first, even before they reach the property.
Step 4: Searching for activities or things to do during their stay
Once they’ve booked their transport, your guests will turn their attention to activities. By sharing content about the latest developments in your region, you can help your guests understand what options they have for things to do during these unfamiliar times.
This is a great opportunity to keep them excited about their trip and demonstrate that you’ve considered all elements of their stay. Share recommendations for restaurants that have reopened, sight-seeing attractions your guests can visit, or virtual experiences they can sign up to. This will ensure they have a positive experience all-round.
Step 5: Arriving at the hotel
You might think that the communication should end when your guests step foot on the property. This is a lost opportunity, as the on-property experience is a key part of their journey. Personalised welcome emails are a great way to provide your guests with important information about their stay, including contact information, ‘need-to-know’ announcements, and safety procedures.
Incorporate data to add a ‘human touch’. For example, by partnering with Welcome Pickups, you’ll have access to a ‘live’ view of your guests’ trip details, arrival and departure information, and interests. You can use this information to personalise your on-property communications and proactively offer early check-ins or late check-outs based on their arrival or departure times.
Step 6: Heading home
The final phase of your guests’ journey is their trip home. You can use personalised communication here to make sure they have positive memories of their stay. If you partner with Welcome Pickups, your guests will receive an automated email 24 hours before they check-out to give them the option of booking a private transfer back to the airport or station hassle-free.
After they check-out, consider sending them a thank-you email or a discounted offer for their next trip to encourage them to return in the future. This is also a great opportunity to ask your guests for feedback. Understanding what they loved about their trip and what improvements you can make is vital, particularly in these unfamiliar times.
This past year has been challenging for the hospitality industry, but recovery is on the way. To make the most of this, hotels must adapt their communications strategy to meet the evolving demands of travellers. By keeping in touch with your guests at every step of their journey, you’ll gain their trust and will keep your hotel top-of-mind for their next trip.