Executive Summary –
Almost every economy on Earth has a significant role of tourism and hotel industry in their GDP. Hence when a contagious pandemic hits the world and forces a complete shutdown, one of the hardest hit is the hotels, tourism and food industry.
Introduction to the Problem –
The worldwide lockdowns since January 2020 due to Corona virus;, the hotel, tourism and food industry combined has had a 60% decline and the loss percentage may rise to 80% by December.
From January to August, many small food businesses, hotels, stalls and joints, food trucks, small tour companies, have shut down, and the others are struggling to stay afloat by means of online deliveries. Even local and international food bloggers such as Mike Xing Chen are supporting local food joints and eateries in the places that they live by featuring them in their food blogs.
The Effect of COVID 19 Coronavirus –
Covid 19 has had an unprecedented impact on the hotel industry. The overall hotel revenue for all major and minor hotel chains have gone down by 60% and in the words of Arne Sorenson, President and CEO of Marriott International; in a recent video message addressed to the employees, acknowledged that even for a 92 year old country that saw global ups and downs, this pandemic is nothing like before, and they have been facing challenges.
However, not all economies or hotel industry in various countries would be able to get back the momentum. Small economies like island nations will still be cautious to open their borders to problems and will be the hardest hit because a major chunk of their GDP comes from hotels and tourism.
After-effects of the shutdown –
The after effect of the shutdown due to Coronavirus for the hotel industry has been tremendous. The phrase “Tourism and Coronavirus” are sworn enemies is an understatement.
To manage the huge costs of managing operational, human, and financial costs and revenues; many hotels have been forced to open food trucks to supplement their income. Others with a more stable financial workflow have invested in robots, table pods, partitions and other innovative techniques that allow them to stay afloat.
The obvious innovation –
The hotel industry is going through pretty tough times and in the unprecedented new normal the various innovative ideas are –
The hotel industry in France and Spain and Italy are converting their hotel rooms as personalized restaurant seats. They are also using individual pods where patrons are given enclosed sitting arrangements.
Hotels in China, Korea, and Japan are using robots in hotels for zero contact service. They are used as servers, front office executives, and bartenders.
Hotels in Israel and other countries are using robots to make, deliver, serve and clean for no contact services.
Some hotels in Amsterdam are turning their rooms into mini offices for professionals working from home.
Some experts speculate that the hotel industry will rebound to pre-Covid revenues by 2023 taking into consideration the economic recession and other economic factors such as price sensitive tourists, restricted tourism due to Coronavirus.
Recovery Plan and Future of the Hotel Industry –
Re-invent: Get the house in order and prepare for recovery –
Planning for recovery is the best way to cope and stay afloat and drive revenue momentum after the situations imposed by the pandemic are eased.
Give discount to regular patrons and price sensitive tourists
Create loyalty programs
Keep in contact through social media and develop brand relevancy
Offer online cooking, health, fitness and nutrition classes, home delivery of foods, home cleaning services, laundry services, home chef services, and direct free bookings through Facebook
Respond to reviews and focus on hotel digital marketing
Update patrons, and customers about your responsiveness to Covid 19 situations
Use messaging apps such as WhatsApp to keep in contact and send personalized messages
Update Digital assets –
Update and re-develop hotel website design with new and updated photos, and description. Address the safety, and precautionary measures in them.
Use AR and VR or create virtual tours and videos and use them as a part of your new narrative on the new website or use them as marketing collaterals and use them for hotel digital marketing.
Make your website an e-commerce and online booking enabled tool so that patrons can use direct booking option for the hotel website discounts, reserve tables and rooms without hassles or phone calls
Link your website with the social media assets and use them to give your new customers and old patrons a virtual tour of your establishment, safety measures, amenities, food, ambience and much more.
Set up email campaigns and newsletter campaigns for your patrons and regular customers about new offers, old offers that are making a comeback, loyalty programs, promotions, messages, new menus, new recipes, personalized wishes etc.
Integrate Maps for easy location finding. Use social media to share lucrative offers, programs, and luxuries for price sensitive tourists and customers such as best deals for staycations or experience the luxury of Italy from your suite, etc.
Improve on the SEO and search ability of the website. Make sure to use Google Hotel Ads tool to make your hotel website easier to find.
If you are an already successful hotel then capitalize on it by adding a Trip Advisor widget on the website and ask patrons and old customers to review you.
Make sure that your website works in peak condition and does not crash when visitors are coming to the website or there are large bookings and orders for food.
Make sure that you tie up with food delivery and third party delivery channels to help in reservations, bookings, and delivery of orders such as home deliveries of food, or take-away
Bifurcate customers to give customized experiences –
As international tourism is shut down for the foreseeable future, the only tourists that will be open to travel are the domestic ones and targeting them is crucial to stay afloat.
Travelers – Consumers that travel in between states and cities for travel or leisure are the first type of customers
Adventure junkies – Hotels can provide free tour packages along with a stay for a certain period at places which attract sports and adventure junkies. Services can be customized by providing adventure and sports gears and equipment.
Social Media hyper connected – Some people travel because they read or saw a great place. By giving them the experience that they are seeking can help the hotel industry.
Generation Zen and Luxury Lovers – These two types of domestic travelers are ideal for staycations. Hotels can give them personalized services such as meditation, agri-tourism experience, luxurious treatments etc.
Families – After months of lockdowns families would plan going to another city or a place of beauty. Giving them custom packages which will include everything for every family member.
Other types – There are digital nomads, baby boomers, wellness seekers, clean living millennial who have varied and different needs. Then there are last minute tourists and travelers, couples who are seeking an adventure, budget travelers.
Steps that ensure that the impact of Covid 19 is minimized –
Customized packages and using technology to ensure safety of patrons and customers
Seek new channels and reach out to patrons and customers that are budget travelers and price sensitive tourists
Enable and optimize direct bookings through website
Adjust pricing to accommodate all types of domestic travelers, tourists, customers and patrons
Change or enhance policies that are not rigid but are solid and flexible
Give discounts, packages, offers and other offers that will attract more customers
Showcase your Covid 19 preparedness and amenities to fight and ensure the safety of customer and patrons.
Expand options of availability such as allowing pets, allowing take away meals, price discounts etc
Give value added amenities to increase and capitalize on extra revenue
Influence longer hotel stays of outsider travelers, families, adventure seekers, and experience searching travelers, and price sensitive tourists.
Explore options of spiritual hotels, vegan themes, agri-tourism
Local marketing for hotels and tactics to attract local customers –
As the Coronavirus Covid 19 has forced many countries have shut their borders to international tourists. Hotels can reach out local or domestic tourists, with lucrative offer, customized packages, reaching out to patrons with programs that will make them to visit you again, or give out food parcels or serve services such as laundry service, cleaning services etc.
Local SEO and Easy Search -
Almost 75% travelers search online for places to eat and stay and this number includes domestic or local travelers, adventure seekers, and stay-cationers. Making yourself visible through accurate maps, address and instructions to reach with SEO and paid ads and a fast loading website with online with online bookings will help you attract local tourist and travelers.
Lucrative offers –
Local or domestic tourists and travelers are price sensitive and giving them hotel discounts when they book directly from the website will help the hotel industry to attract domestic customers.
Customized packages –
Customized packages for patrons, businesses, high net worth professionals, and regular customers can go a long way to inspire them to keep coming to you.The hotel industry can introduce reduced bills for extended stays for business and corporate guest; can give special services for local patrons on their birthday and anniversaries
The hotels can give in-house services to customers and patrons delivered to their homes in the lockdown. These in-house services could be laundry, cleaning, house chef etc
Points Services –
Hotels can attract local customers and domestic travelers and tourists with a points system where they can earn certain points on every service or giving them points on purchase of food parcels whenever they order, which after a certain accumulated amount can be deemed to be used as money.
Post Lockdown Offers –
To attract local customers, tourists and patrons, the hotels provide direct bookings for future travels and staycations. They can market them as post Coronavirus Tourism and can market these offers as “After Corona Vacations” or “AC Vacays”. The hotels can give amazing offers on direct bookings from the website; give pocket friendly tours and packages for price sensitive tourists. They can tie up with local agencies and local partnerships with local market vendors, flea markets, local novelty shops, yoga studios, local artisanal brewery shops or beer tasting tours for tourists etc.
Marketing to local and domestic tourists, travelers, and patrons –
Market the location –
Hotels should market the location where they are open for business. This way, domestic tourists are tempted to visit.
Market it as a desirable place to explore and make memories.
Market the local attractions, markets, establishments of entertainment and amenities.
Market the local culture, way of life, local people, and their way of life.
Market the amenities and safety precautions –
The best way to market post pandemic coronavirus tourism for the hotel industry is to highlight their customer centric approach in the amenities that the hotels provide and the safety precautions they have taken and will take. Highlighting the cleanliness protocols to contain the spread of diseases and other procedures such as sanitization, masks, gloves, disinfectants etc will help hotels to attract local and domestic patrons, travelers, and tourists.
Remarket to old patrons and old customers and incomplete transactions doers –
Online bookings abandonment rate for hotels is almost 75%. Out of every 4 online booking customers, 3 bookings are left abandoned due to difficult or confusing hotel website design and lack of hotel website discounts, lack of packages and discounts for budget travelers, and price sensitive tourists. Re-marketing to these abandoned purchase carts with discounts and packages will increase bookings and footfalls.
Remarketing to the right audience –
There are different types of domestic tourists and travelers. They can be categorized as –
- Budget Travelers
- Price Sensitive tourists
- Baby Boomers
- Adrenaline Junkies / Adventure Seekers
- Luxury seeker
- Wellness tourists
- Hyper-connected social media influencers
- Food Bloggers
- Travel Bloggers
- Generation Zen
- Honeymooning Couples or Getaway Couples
- Clean living millennial’s
- Digital Nomads
- Impulsive Travelers and tourists
Developing re-marketing campaigns and sending the right kind of messaging for each type of domestic traveler helps to attract these various types of customers, patrons and tourists and domestic travelers.
With all this, the hotel industry can surely become ready for international tourism and tourist when things normalize.