Hospitality providers pride themselves on accommodating eclectic groups of guests from all around the globe, as a rule of thumb – the more comprehensive your guest outreach, the higher the occupancy rate, the greater the revenue.
NB: This is an article from Clock
This approach to guest acquisition, however, is no longer viable as the uncertainty created by COVID-19 is making guests more mindful of their travel practices. All, however, feel the need to engage with the outside world familiarly and listen to their sense of social decency by avoiding long-distance travel.
Here is where local vacations or “staycations” come in. Most guests feel forced to scrap their 2020 travel plans and replace them with something more local. Consider the following tips when approaching guests about staycations:
Focus On Social Media as a Form of Community Connection
The value of your hotel’s social media reputation has never been more important than in 2020. For your guest outreach to have any success, you need to reshape the way guest view vacationing in a time when leaving your own home is a shameful activity.
You first need to shake the shame away from the idea of guests taking a vacation. In a time when businesses are struggling, and your guest prospects are seeing family and friends lose their jobs to the recession it might seem frivolous and even insulting that they would care to travel and spend on leisure.
Luckily your hotel’s social media profiles allow you to showcase precisely how much your business contributes to the community.
- Highlight your staff
Your regulars have probably been with you for years, ask them to share a favourite story of an experience they’ve had with a guest. Create a post that features them and share their account online. In this way, you reshape the way you present your business: not as a brand, but as a community of labourers working towards a common goal.
- Honour community relationships
Local vendors and businesses play a huge part in hospitality. They provide hoteliers with a great way to bring down the cost and improve the quality of the guest experience they provide, be it with goods or services. Bringing attention to their contribution showcases how local businesses like yours play an integral part in maintaining your community’s natural business ecosystem.
- Let guests speak for themselves
The best way to encourage a staycation is to allow happy guests to speak about it for themselves. In all likelihood this will be the first vacation many of them have had since lockdown, leaving them good-humoured and eager to give you a thumbs up. Social media presence is an act of conversation. Your presentation is quickly rendered null and void if you do not participate in the follow-up discussion. Social media can be an essential tool at your disposal later on if you need to dispel guest concerns, while also allowing you to tap into what guests might be interested in when it comes to booking.
Offer Special Booking Times For Tourists With a Local Residence
Encouraging safety while also trying to stay in business can be challenging. You are still the owner of a service which is both highly desirable and socially stigmatized in the current climate. You will certainly have guests who have made the trip the first chance they’ve had, and it is their presence that is pushing away local guests unwilling to take the risk of unnecessary interactions.
A way to offset this would be to determine the time of the month when your occupancy is at its lowest and to declare that bookings are only open to residents for this time. In many ways, this will be the most traditional campaign you have set up since COVID-19 hit. Local guests need two types of assurance to staycation: that your establishment adheres to public health guidelines and that they are minimizing their contact with long-distance travellers.
Community trust is integral to surviving the COVID-19 travel draught. Locals might not swarm your hotel the first chance they get, but they will trickle in much-needed revenue during some of your lowest points.
Home Office Staycations Will Lead The Way to Stable Revenue
Your new guest prospects are tired. COVID-19 has blurred the lines between work time and downtime, making many experience the fatigue of never genuinely being off the clock. Here is where you come in. Home office workers are in a unique position to work from any place with reliable access to fast speed internet and enough privacy to conduct daily meetings.
How does a home office staycation yield long term revenue improvement, you may ask?
Easy. You are looking at guest prospects who are not strictly speaking on vacation but are allowed the benefits of one. By remaining on the clock, many might find it easier to book a stay for a more prolonged period, in which case you should consider shaping offers which encourage this trend, bringing down the room rate for bookings longer than a fortnight. The upsell of additional activities and meals in itself will drive up the revenue.
This kind of luxury has traditionally been reserved for executive clients for no other reason but the fact that they were the only ones with the freedom to take advantage of it. It isn’t much of a stretch to organize a home office staycation campaign. You can appeal to guest prospects by merely empathizing with your guests’ need for variety and encouraging their newfound freedom to pursue a change of scenery.
Low-stress environments are proven to increase productivity which is why you might consider reaching out to corporate guests with offers of employee discounts. Hussle culture companies, however, might reject your idea. Companies who are averse to the concept of work-life balance being a priority for their employees might not make a good fit for a home office staycation campaign. By building a new customer persona, you can traverse guest acquisition in the modern hospitality market with much greater ease.
Consider a New Customer Persona
Hoteliers everywhere are trying to find ways to preserve the value of their business by making minimal changes to their current practices. The most direct way to achieve this would be to market your establishment to the right customer.
Considering the extraordinary nature of hospitality circumstances in 2020, you will need to build at least several customer personas to represent the correct range of guest behaviours during COVID-19 accurately.
- The overthinker
Many guests, are rightfully concerned with their health and that of their loved ones. This customer persona is focused on identifying comforting behaviour which your staff can use to reassure guest prospects of the character of your daily operations, and to diminish concerns of spreading the disease. The overthinker will also help you set hygiene guidelines for your establishment.
- The indecisive
Constant media overload on the topic of COVID-19 has resulted in a split of public opinion, but this split is not always bipartisan. Many guests are both concerned about public behaviour but lax in their personal practices. A customer persona which looks for a moderate approach to verbalizing the needs of such a guest will yield a willingness to engage in public social gatherings, but only if it involves close friends and family. You can use it to determine the best approach to group packages, while also testing out the waters for seasonal events such as weddings and birthday parties.
- The carefree
The issues raised by the above two persona types revolves around a social duty which this type of customer persona does not represent. This persona characterizes someone more than eager to travel any opportunity they get while flaunting public health concerns. This guest persona is indicative of risks posed to your business’ safety. You will likely book many guests who exhibit such traits; the goal would be to encourage health-conscious behaviour even amongst them. The best way to do this is to have staff adhere to health and hygiene protocols without deviation, setting an example and a form of expectation.
The above are broad sketches but the intrinsic value of researching the current market you are trying to engage, a well-researched customer persona can give your marketing strategy a tangible end goal. Having such a tool will provide you with a realistic outline for the rest of 2020.
Diversify your Activity Portfolio
Staycations have an appeal to guests only if they offer some form of entertainment or a distraction. You might find that some of your current services hold a degree of risk to your guests’ safety. Your inhouse gym takes many resources to sanitize properly, public swimming areas might be viewed as hotspots for the disease, and open mic night might drum up a little bit too much close contact for an indoor group activity.
So take the time to reach out to other local businesses and see how you can help each other. Look for outdoor activities ranging from extreme sports such as sky diving to classic ones like golf. You would need to tailor your selection to the events more likely to attract guests, but regardless of the partnerships you choose to form, you will be able to provide your guests with more rounded guest experiences.
New partnerships can help both sides drum up business by encouraging clients to pursue the other. After all, hospitality is hardly the only industry struggling at the moment. The more active business connections you can boast, the better your chance of getting your establishment through this crisis.
In times of crisis, a community turns to its people to ensure its survival. Local travel and staycationing allow you to more effectively fulfil your role as part of the local chain of the industry, by supplementing at least part of the revenue imbalance caused by lockdown and consequently aiding the collective effort of fighting the current recession.