Overview Domestic travel planning
Domestic tourism will be the first thing to recover from the 2020 pandemic that affects our tourism badly. While most countries are still closing their border, domestic tourism currently plays an important role for economies to afloat.
Hotel industry in 2020: Expectation vs Reality
2019 predicted that the hotel industry in the year 2020 will have an increased profit compared to the previous year. Technology is also expected to be on the rise since we are now in a technological era.
Unfortunately, the prediction didn't nail it. The recent pandemic that hit us in 2020 has shown a decreased profit in the hotel industry. Malaysia's Government has made some action to increase profit. Apart from domestic travel, starting 1 July Malaysia allows medical tourists from selected countries.
Malaysia also allows expatriates to hold high management positions with certain rules. On September 11, long-term pass holders can apply for entry into Malaysia, even from high-risk nations like the USA and Indonesia. While in October, Malaysia launched an easy online application called ‘My Travel Pass’ for foreigners to enter the country from a certain category.
Hotel industry in 2021: The expectation
Director General Datuk Musa Yusof considered travel bubbles to begin in stages sometime in the first quarter of 2021 to add stimulation to the local tourism industry that was badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. He hopes to establish travel corridors with other nations in Southeast Asia starting next year.
What will bring back travel confidence in the hotel industry?
Talking about hotel selection during this pandemic situation, the travelers surely look for safety and they require reassurance before deciding which hotel they want to stay at during the vacation period. We believe that safety measures set and the implementation done by the hotels will give travelers confidence to proceed with the hotel booking.
Here, we listed out 4 important key measurements that hotels should take note of during the recovery stage to boost the travelers' confidence.
1. Highlight on Hotel Cleanliness
In the wake of Covid-19 and rising hygienic concerns, enhancing hotel cleanliness could be the top priority in bringing back the traveler's confidence.
Few recommendation steps that hotels need to take in highlighting the cleanliness part of the hotels:
- Determine an action plan which involves all departments to ensure effectiveness and everyone is on the same page.
- Consider rigorous deep cleaning and disinfection standards throughout all the hotel areas including guest rooms, lobby, cafe, and other public areas.
- Make sure to have the right chemical to sanitize and disinfect the surface and hands.
2. Follow Standard Operating Procedures
Covid-19 SOP compliance of utmost importance as kickstarts recovery. Most travelers want to see the SOP being implemented effectively in the hotels to make them feel safe and secure. Some of the SOP that is compulsory to follow are:
- Temperature check at the entrance
- Wearing mask
- Social distancing at least 1 meter
3. Adapt Contactless Services
While customer-centric is the main approach in the hotel business, and it is hard to replace, the contactless solutions however seem to be the “new normal” in the hotel industry in the next few years with the advancement of technology.
Popular hotels like Mariott have opted for contactless services. Some of the ideas of the contactless service that you might want to look further are:
Contactless check-in and check-out system
While most of the hotels are worrying about metal or key cards that need to be sanitized after every use, some other hotels are opting for a contactless check-in check-out system where the guests can access the hotel room by using their own mobile devices. This method also helps to remove the standard process of queuing at the front desk and reduce the spread of the virus.
- Collecting reviews and feedback through email and automation
Customer review is typically collected by using physical paper the moment the guest check-out or the feedback form has been placed on the dressing table in the guest room.
Softinn provides a Smart-Review System where hotels will be able to capture guest’s satisfaction of the first-night stay and well as after they have checked. With this contactless technology, hotels can easily get honest feedback from the guests throughout the automation process without the usage of paper while reducing the risk of the virus spreading via physical contact and contaminated surfaces.
- Room dining booking with QR Code
QR codes have become more common in 2020. Hotels should make use of this and make it available for hotel guests to order in-room dining services. Hotels may consider placing the QR code in each of the hotel rooms. This code then redirected to the page where they can select the menu and proceed to order.
- Online booking and payments
Accepting walk-in guests and booking via phone calls need manual work and apply physical contact. By getting guests to book directly from the hotel website, they can confirm and secure their desired room via online.
Tell your potential guest in advance that you care about them and in the need of reducing virus spreading, the hotel has to strictly implement the online booking and will not commit to any walk-in booking.
4. Implement Flexibility
Other than feeling physically safe during their stay, the guests also wish to know what happens if there are cases like lockdown, movement control order, or interstate travel ban. Are they allowed to cancel the booking? Will they get their money back? Is it possible to change the check-in date?
A good hotel cancellation system can help hotels to answer all the above questions. This will be further explained below in our marketing strategies.
To make it clear, there is still a willingness to stay in a hotel, provided safety measures and policies are in place. Hotels have to act fast and introduce new safety measures, make changes to the policies to reassure travelers, and kickstart recovery.
Hotel Marketing Strategies to be implemented in 2021
1. Start Your Direct Booking Journey
As domestic travel demands start to pick up, hotels should focus more on direct booking channels to gain hotel profit immediately since a lot of countries still close their border.
Here is the list of direct booking strategies that you should consider to implement:
- Provide the guest to book directly via your website
- Remarket off website visitors who searched for specific dates in the booking engines
- Consider an instant rewards feature where visitors can enter their email and contact details to unlock exclusive offers
- Fully control over your customer database and makes better marketing planning to find more similar future guests
- Offer promo incentives to your loyal customers
- Install booking engine on hotel Facebook Page
Read More: The Benefits of Hotel Direct Booking
2. Implement Flexible Cancellation
- Flexible Cancellation Policy
Guest able to proceed for their booking cancellation easily. Softinn does provide a “self-service cancellation system” that brings convenience to hotels for their guests to submit their booking modification and cancellation easily via the system. The booking refund amount will be auto-calculated via the system
- Convert booking cancellations refund to cash voucher
Hotels might experience a high booking cancellation request due to this pandemic. Instead of refunding the full amount to the guest, hotels may consider providing a Cash Voucher for the guest to use in the next booking. With this method, your Hotel cash flow will not be affected during the Covid-19 pandemic period.
With Softinn’s promo code features, you can create a “private promo code” easily in Softinn Extranet and send the promo code prefix to the guest for their future booking use. Hotels may track the usage in the system too.
Check out how Softinn's clients use promo codes and offering cash vouchers to the affected guest during the Covid-19 pandemic. Claim Your Free Trial now.
3. Showcase your Hotel Best Value
- Provide promotion to your guest
As a hotelier, you might already implement some of the promotion strategies. If you haven't tried using Promo Code like Lazada, here are the 10 Digital Marketing Ideas for your hotel using a promo code.
Read more: The Importance of Promo Codes In Promoting Your Hotel
- Upsell your own hotel services
Consider new opportunity ancillary revenue streams, it is time to promote your own value by upselling your own hotel services such as your co-working space, hotel restaurant buffet set meal, high tea set, spa service, and so on. Create an offer to those who have a longer stay, for example, offer a cash voucher of 15% at your hotel restaurant to those who have 2 nights minimum stay at your hotel. Also, target business travelers by offering them a promotion at your co-working space as they can do their work or meeting there without any disturbance.
4. Make clear message related to Covid-19 clear to your guest
- Update your hotel official website
- Create a Covid-19 FAQ page and let your guest understand more about the hotel’s SOP
- Fully utilize the Google My Business “post” feature on your business listing, which will show up in related queries for 2 weeks
- Follow up email to sent to your guests to visit the hotel website for the updated information and hotel future promotions
- Promote special offer and packages as pop up on your website
- Stay Active on Social Media
- Share about current hotel looks, (example: hotel’s SOP)
- Share how hotel taking proper precautions on hotels to ensure the safety of staff and guests
- Post about hotel Internal hygiene such as room cleaning, public area, restaurant
- The reviews from your current guests
- Showcase your current promotions or packages
- Promote hotel services such as hotel restaurant or spa services
- Make a virtual hotel tour via FB live videos
- Stay active and answering on guest’s inquiry via FB
Read also: Social Media Strategies
5. Learn, Adapt, Adjust Accordingly (Be Agile)
In this tough situation, especially in the travel industry, there is a big pause in the whole world. From the list of our strategies, you should learn and adapt it and adjust certain strategies to certain situations accordingly. Look around you and learn from big names in the hotel industry such as Marriott Hotel and read how their marketing strategy actually works and manage to stay in the industry for a long time.
When a hotel develops a marketing strategy to implement as travel demand rises, it is very important to align with the revenue management strategy. Thus, it should align with the hotel revenue management team on rate strategy and make sure this is reflected in your marketing plan. Example: discuss rate parity via multiple channels, provide a flexible cancellation policy and the self-service cancellation system for your guests and offer new offers and packages.
Read also: 5 Marketing Mistakes Made by Hoteliers