Short-term and long-term strategies to future-proof properties and recoup hotel losses once travel resumes and the pandemic is contained
The COVID-19 pandemic has plunged the travel sector into a cloud of uncertainty. As the result of worldwide travel slowing to a near standstill, US occupancy rates have declined over 67% compared with the same time period last year, with average daily rates (ADR) and revenue per available room (RevPAR) seeing similarly drastic drops.
However, there is some silver lining. The hotel industry is cyclical and has shown its ability to come back from every major downturn it’s experienced in the past. Two relatively recent events, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the 2009 financial recession, severely impacted hotel ADR and RevPAR in a similar way to the current coronavirus outbreak. In both cases, though, these average performance metrics for hotels quickly rebounded and exceeded their pre-event levels as economies recovered and mass traveling resumed.
The strength of the hotel industry lies in coming together in the face of hardships, and this current situation is no exception. Here are some steps hoteliers can take — both today and in the future — to position themselves to recoup losses once travel and hospitality resume on a global scale:
1. Stay top of mind by leveraging digital marketing channels.
People around the world are currently working from home and planning future aspirational travels. While working remotely, they are more likely to engage with digital advertising channels like email and social media. Hoteliers can keep their brands relevant through targeted messaging on these channels.
2. Email future-stay discounts to loyalty members.
Engaging with and showing appreciation to loyal guests through personalized discounts and offers can strengthen relationships with these valuable customers, further ensuring they remain repeat customers when they begin traveling again.
3. Offer direct booking perks and gift cards.
Gift cards and perks that can be redeemed for future stays provide ancillary revenue in the immediate while locking in future occupancy for the travel bounce-back. Restaurants, service providers, and other establishments are using similar methods to help lessen the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on their businesses.
4. Consider ‘staycation’ messaging and marketing promotions.
It is very likely that once daily life begins to return to normal, many people will be eager to get out of their homes, but may still be cautious about traveling on planes or to far-flung destinations. By targeting a local audience with staycation messaging, hoteliers can address short-term occupancy rates once social distancing measures are scaled back.
Future-Proofing Through Technology
From telemedicine to self-driving cars to remote work software, the coronavirus outbreak will undoubtedly lead to an increase in technology adoption across numerous industries. The same will hold true for hospitality technology; the outbreak is forcing hoteliers to re-think the role of technology in providing an optimal guest experience while ensuring the public health safety of staff and guests. In order to bounce back from the current occupancy drop and be best positioned for long-term success, hoteliers should consider investing in technology tools that:
1. Limit unnecessary guest-staff interactions.
While relationships with guests are at the core of nearly all hotels, future guests may want to avoid unnecessary face-to-face interactions, especially in the time immediately following a return to normalcy. Investing in technology such as mobile check-in and digital communication tools allows hoteliers to adapt to this new normal.
2. Capture more revenue from every booking.
Technology that drives additional revenue from each guest can help hoteliers accelerate the bounce-back from the coronavirus outbreak. For example, offering in-room dining through a mobile app or tablet can increase the average dining check size by up to 30% per order, and tools like digital storefronts unlock ancillary revenue streams by allowing guests to purchase the linens, pillows, and even wall art used throughout a property.
3. Maximize cost-saving opportunities.
In addition to increasing revenue, hospitality technology can also help properties save costs, primarily by automating many traditionally manual processes. By providing self-service tools to guests and capturing critical guest behavioral data, hoteliers can use technology to spend less and spend smarter.
These are challenging times for the hospitality industry, but past resilience has shown that hotels will bounce back from the current public health crisis. Implementing immediate and long-term strategies will become necessary as travelers change their habits in the face of changing norms. To learn more about how INTELITY’s solutions are built to maximize hotel ROI, schedule a demo with the INTELITY team today.