Coronavirus – your check-list
I am sure your ‘inbox’ is flooded every day with news feed about the Coronavirus. So I won’t waste any of your time going over again what the virus is or the impact we have all seen first hand on our industry.
For now the facts are startling. At a hotelier event in London this week I spoke to one hotelier who has already wiped £2M from their bottom line, so now is not the time to shrink from the facts. The facts are that conference business has all but disappeared; corporate business is non-existent; Tour groups are cancelling daily. So if your business rests upon these segments you are certainly feeling the pain. However, as an industry there are measures we can take to lessen the impact:
1 – Manage your Rates
- Do not dump rates. A race to the bottom on rate can happen in minutes but take years to recover from. Now is the time to be pro-active.
- Do not discount advance rates. None of us may know when this will end but it will end. In the next month or so, many of us will have caught this virus and recovered fully. Experts are predicting that the tide will turn by the summer. So don’t panic and implement a rate strategy you may regret in July!
- Panic less. We are all terrified by the headlines but stand back and actually look at your own business. Here at Right Revenue, we have hotels that actually aren’t seeing the double-digit losses that the headlines portray, so evaluate your own business first.
- If your competitors are undercutting you, then you need to look at opaque rates (where room rates are hidden within a package), so you can offer value whilst not de-valuing your rate strategy.
- Add upsells to rates that show great value but again hide your rate
- Design some great ‘staycation’ packages. Think out of the box. What can you do to entice people to come to your property. People may not be travelling abroad but they still want to travel, so make sure that they know your hotel is seen to be open for business.
- Encourage longer stays. Now might be the time to promote those 3for2 offers!
- Remove ALL restrictions on rates. People are more likely to book if they feel they can cancel if they need to.
- Remove all restrictions on your brand website and open up availability on the OTA’s. Now is the time to let these guys work for you!
- Understand that you are going to have a higher than usual cancellation policy and plan your strategy around that
2 – Use your data
- You have a wealth of data at your fingertips. If you have a Revenue Management system then use it. Revenue Management systems will pick-up the decline in pace but because most are built on very robust algorithms that don’t only take pace into account, they will not be recommending rate drops. So trust the data! And in the words of someone mich clever than me ‘without data, you are just another person with an opinion’…
- Review your segments. If you have a sharp decline in one or two main segments, then look to what is declining less sharply. Where can you make those wins?
- You may have lost your international corporate market, but not all local corporates are restricted. Empower your sales team to talk to local corporates with a very clear message that you are safe to visit.
- Lean on your loyal guests. We all have databases stuffed full with email addresses of loyal guests, so why not use this loyalty and offer a hidden rate just for them?
3 – Now is not the time to cut back on marketing
- It is, however, the time to be clever. Ask your Digital Marketing companies to review where your searches are coming from and the terms that are being used.
- Cut down your international budget and spend attracting your local demographic.
- We are seeing a huge growth in local searches. I can’t give you specifics as the percentages are changing daily, but local searches across the UK and Ireland (and I am sure this is mirrored within other countries) are showing double-digit growth. The fact is that people want to travel and if local is safer, then make it as easy as possible for your guests
4 – Show clear messaging
- The fact is that we cannot hide under a rock and pretend that this isn’t happening, so get your message out there and keep it on-brand
- Tell your customers that you have additional cleaning. Ensure that they know you are taking their safety very seriously and have strict cleaning policies in place
- Communicate your message on ALL mediums. Send e:shots / add to your website / add to your confirmations / add to your email signature. Wherever your guests see you, speak to them!
There is perhaps some good news… The industry experts are predicting that when the upturn comes back, it will come back quickly and we as an industry need to be prepared. Go back to your data. Use your systems, use your talent and let the data and your Revenue Managers make great decisions.
There is no doubt that these are difficult times. There is very little we can do except deal with what we inevitability deal have to deal with and prepare for better times ahead, and trust me, there are better times ahead.