By Kirsty Beasley, Market Development Manager at Profitroom
With so many restrictions placed on the things we once took for granted, people and businesses have been forced to re-evaluate what they consider important. As the hospitality industry rebuilds, hoteliers and others are having to redesign and reimagine their services as we move towards a post-pandemic era, a process which ensures they continue to engage with their audiences.
Constant changes in Government guidelines over the past 18 months has forced hospitality to adapt – a scenario which has encouraged hotels to undertake innovative new ways to attract and retain guests. With ‘Staycations’ on the rise and the reduction of international business travel, domestic leisure has taken a front seat, both in the UK and worldwide.
Amongst this state of flux, hoteliers are adapting to marketing in a post-covid society, whilst re-inventing their space and services to meet current demand. Hotels now have to employ new techniques to identify who they want to attract and how best to reach them.
We’ve seen much of this focus on five things.
- Making it experience led
Hotels can offer a whole host of features beyond the traditional bed and breakfast. The refining of sophisticated wine lists, delicious food, luxuriant spa facilities and bespoke gardens can all act as temptations to guests outside of their initial room booking.
For those guests who are looking for more than just an overnight stay, ‘packages’ are growing in popularity. Our data suggests that packages have jumped from a 23% share of bookings pre-pandemic to a 32% share of bookings post-pandemic. This shows how guests are increasingly in the market for experience-led stays and are willing to pay more for a personalised stay.
Our research also suggests that the optimum number of packages a hotel should offer is between five and seven. You should consider offering a diverse range that your guests can choose from in order to maximise the benefits from offering packages.
- Using technology to enhance and innovate
Striking a balance between technology use and good old fashioned customer service is important – despite the ease of technology, the traditional hotel service is all part of the experience. Some guests may be happy to fly through a digital self-check-in, however this is not the case for everyone. This is often determined by the type of hotel – Budget hotels are likely to see no objection to digital methods, however, towards the more luxurious end of the spectrum, guests often expect personable service in return for higher prices. It’s important that you fully understand your audience and find out what works best for them.
Technology, however, can work in tandem with traditional hospitality to create a well-oiled hotel experience. For example, in-room tablets can make hotel amenities more accessible to guests whilst simultaneously allowing you to tailor offers and packages. It’s important that you fully understand your audience – then you can then focus on thorough staff training to ensure your approach is delivered universally to your guests.
- Embracing the digital shift
The application of technology is not unique to hardware and devices such as tablets and phones. When applied across the board it can encourage a personalised yet automated guest experience. Technology is a reality for all of us and it’s important as hoteliers to recognise that going the extra mile can help your digital experience really stand out from mundane everyday technologies such as emails.
- Building anticipation and loyalty before arrival
This stretches beyond loyalty programmes. Implementing a strong CRM system will help you target your audience and send personalised messages prior to their visit – this in turn, will build anticipation and lay the foundations of customer loyalty. A week after making a booking, if a guest receives a message such as: “Thank you for booking direct, we would like to offer you a free drink in the bar on your arrival.” They will likely experience pre-stay excitement before they even arrive.
Awarding direct booking not only benefits your hotel – it also contributes to the universal education of prospective visitors. If a guest is rewarded for booking direct, they are likely to do so at their next destination, creating a knock-on effect which will ultimately benefit hoteliers and guests alike.
- Adding value to the guest booking journey
In a digital era, a guests’ experience starts from the moment they visit your website. First impressions are essential to ensure they progress from browsing the booking engine to making a confirmed reservation. Customers can be reached even earlier with the use of online ads to lure them in; however, initial impressions remain paramount.
Simplicity is an effective tool when applied to the booking process – customers enjoy short, stress-free, online booking. Extra value can also be added to make booking direct a more attractive option, with a discounted lunch or dinner rate at the hotel restaurant being a good example of this. It’s important to encourage direct bookings and the use of special offers or loyalty programmes can be very useful in achieving that aim.
To summarise, as we move in to a post-covid era the guest experience should be under consistent review. New concepts and techniques are always coming to the fore and it’s important to keep up – adapting and reimagining your services where necessary in order to meet the needs and expectations of your guests.
Kirsty Beasley, is the Market Development Manager for Profitroom, a leading provider of hospitality marketing and direct booking solutions.