How to keep the ‘stay’ in Staycation
(and just a little tip… you might like to read right to the bottom as we have something very special for you…)
When you start a business, people who evaluate your idea tend to ask you the same four questions
- What problem are you solving?
- How do you plan to solve it?
- Who will pay for this?
- How do you plan for customers to keep paying for it?
And this got me thinking… isn’t that exactly the same in hospitality? Aren’t we facing the exact same questions from our owners/managers right now, just in a different format?
Our problem (and I prefer to think about it as an opportunity) is that it is all about the ‘Staycation’. For many hoteliers, I do completely understand that this is challenging. Gone are our wonderful corporate, tour and M&E segments, and this has been replaced and will be replaced for the foreseeable future by Staycation. But what if we turn this and try to see this as an opportunity (and for many, many hotels this will be). We have one wonderful segment to concentrate on getting right. No need to dilute your precious PPC budgets on campaigns to attract international travellers. No need to design packages or content around overseas guests. No need to have salespeople knocking doors for non-existent contracts. Right now, we have one thing to do and that is, get Staycation right.
So how do we solve this problem? And who will pay for it?
- Use the data. You have a PMS or if you are lucky enough to have a Revenue Management system and CRM system, you will have a whole wrath of new data that you can use. And you need to use this to know and understand your customer. As always, do not try and be all-things-to-all-people but look at who your customers are (and yes, good data will give you an understanding of that) and then do everything you can to meet their needs.
- Design great packages that tell an interesting story. As long as we are allowed to travel, your customers will want to come, so make sure you are offering the very best experience you can and that starts at your customers ‘aspirational’ part of their journey. They want to know that when they come to stay, that they will have not just an experience, but an amazing experience. Think about a ‘stay closer’ campaign… if a guest stays with you, then you are allowing them to ‘stay closer’ to… and the next part is up to you. Stay closer to a great beach; a beautiful place to hike; a child-friendly attraction; an award-winning restaurant; biking; arts; culture – the list is endless. Give your guests something to aspire to and a reason, and they will come.
- Make sure that your rate strategy is correct for longer lead times. Yes, we all know that business now is mainly last minute but there are lots of people who are looking at booking rooms for 90+ days in advance. They might have other family members to consider or perhaps hoping that there are better days to come but either way, make sure you have great, enticing and interesting packages online and available to book.
- Consider rates for longer stays. There are many people who just won’t consider a foreign holiday, but absolutely will consider multiple breaks closer to home. These stays are often more than 2 nights with many hotels showing an average of 3 or 4 night stays, so make sure that you have great packages for longer length of stays and again make sure that you have interesting inclusions or suggestions of what to do while they are with you.
- Talking about inclusions, is there something that you can include – even in your B&B rates that show a guest that you are offering something great to reward them for their stay. This doesn’t have to cost very much – perhaps a complimentary room upgrade; a glass of fizz on arrival; tickets to an attraction or bike hire. Go back to point 1 and understand your guest and try to include something wonderful. Oh, and please don’t think that ‘well our guests are coming and we are giving them nothing, so why should I???’ Narrow thinking can lead to narrow decisions. What if you exceed expectations? What if guests checked out, genuinely excited to come back? Or even better, tell their friends about how you wowed them…What difference might that make?
- Not all hotels are used to the Staycation market but we are all used to hospitality and that means ‘be hospitable‘. So if you aren’t a family hotel, can you be? Can you do something great that might attract families to stay? One example I use often, is that a hotel close by did not have family rooms and no room for extra beds, so they bought little pop-up tents for the kids, lay quilts on the floor and made a standard double room into a family adventure! What can you try to gain your market share?
- Be flexible – things are changing every day and not one of us knows how this will play out short-term but we do know that hotels will be around long-term, so to get through this we need to be flexible with our guests. If you have bookings that suddenly need to cancel due to new restrictions or perhaps because a family member is shielding, then now is NOT the time to enforce cancellation policies. This is out of your guest’s control and if you remain ‘hospitable’ then your wonderful guests will return.
And how do you keep those customers paying for it and becoming returning customers?
- Communication is key. If you don’t have a great CRM then now is the time to get one. You need amazing confirmation emails telling your customers how safe and welcome they will be. You need great pre-stay emails that ensure your guests start to feel that ‘wow’ feeling before they even get to your door and that gives them inspiration on things to do. You need wonderful during-stay emails that remind them that your restaurant is open or that they can book a beauty treatment. You need genuine post-stay emails that say thank you and politely ask for a review and as important as all of the above, is your very targeted bring-back emails. Let your customer know that you know them. You know when they stayed, why they stayed, and offer them something wonderful to come back. Genuine, open, honest and targeted emails with an interesting story will bring people back.
- But only if you WOW them. I have heard countless stories from friends and family where they went to stay in a hotel to be completely ‘under-whelmed’ when they got there. You can tick every single box above but if your operational team are letting you down, then you are in trouble. It might be difficult to show your smile beneath a mask but a genuine welcome with warm and friendly engagement with your guests is never missed.
- Now more than ever is the time to invest in great technology. I can pretty much bet that if your hotel looked at every technology piece and how they all linked together; how that impacts on your useful data and most importantly, how each system can improve your customer journey, then I can pretty much bet that there are improvements that could be made. In the words of someone much wiser than me, it is not just the cost of improving your technology landscape, it is the cost of NOT doing it that you need to consider…
Revenue manage every single part of your guest journey and by that I mean that now, more than ever, you need to understand costs. How much is your new cost of occupied room? How much is each and every package actually adding to your bottom line? You have got to start your strategy from the bottom – up.
And to do that we would like to help… As a very valued subscriber to our blog, we are excited to offer you use of two bespoke reports completely FREE OF CHARGE (already included in Right Revenue if you are an existing customer)
- The first is our Cost of Occupied Room Calculator – this calculator will help you work out the real cost of an occupied room and is an invaluable tool that can be used time and time again as your cost base changes. So many hotels consider only fixed assets but what would your true cost look like if you included your cost of customer acquisition or the wage costs you should assign to rooms division? We can help with that and this in turn will give you a much clearer idea of your true nett costs and is a business-critical tool to ensure you set your rate strategy from the bottom – up.
- The second is our Package Calculator – so often we see hotels offering a rate just because they have offered the same price before or it seems like a ‘comfortable’ rate to sell at. But how much profit are you actually making? Let us help. We can calculate your profitability and then give you suggestions on the very best rate to sell at, to ensure your customer receives a great deal but that you are also securing profitability.
These two reports are offered completely Free of Charge (normally charged at £50.00 per month) and I hope you see this as our way of doing what we can to support you during this difficult time. Our existing customers love them and if you would like further details, please just click: https://rightrevenue.co.uk/revenue-support-tools/
and quote CALCULATE as we would love to help.