Coronavirus, Health Concerns & Hotel Marketing
What Hotel Managers Can Do in Response to Coronavirus COVID-19
As information and media coverage of a new strain of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is shared, the hospitality industry is holding its collective breath. Not to avoid contracting the virus, which spreads through respiratory droplets, but to see how the spread of the virus impacts traveler behavior and hotel occupancy trends.
While we’ll discuss the early impacts of COVID-19 on the hotel industry later in this blog, let’s first focus on what actions hoteliers can take to minimize the spread of the disease while maximizing their revenue.
1. Update Hotel Operations to Reduce Spread of Bacteria
Hotel owners and operators are uniquely positioned to help mitigate the spread of the virus through effective housekeeping practices. With hundreds of people moving through your property every day, you may need to revise your daily cleaning routine to reduce the spread of germs. A recent article on Hospitality Net shares tips for using EPA-approved cleaning products to disinfect common areas, linens, and guestrooms. Conduct a training session with your staff to review best practices for hygiene and implement any new policies for cleaning the hotel. Formalizing these best practices through new process implementation is a great way to prioritize the health and safety of your employees and guests.
2. Reassure Guests Through Online Review Response
With the spread of a disease like COVID-19, it can be difficult to avoid public panic. Travelers will be more critical than ever when it comes to the cleanliness and guest experience at your hotel. That’s why it’s imperative to reassure potential guests that your hotel will be clean, safe and comfortable for their stay. Any negative review posted about housekeeping at your hotel will result in lost business, especially if left unanswered. We recommend consistently responding as quickly as possible to alleviate guest concerns. By sharing your current cleaning routine, disinfecting policies and a commitment to public health, you can encourage future bookings.
If you’re a current Travel Media Group Respond & Resolve™ customer, now is the best time to update your property guide information. Either log in to TMG OneView® or contact your client success specialist to share information about your current housekeeping policies, specific disinfectant details, and any additional measures you’re taking during this time. With this knowledge, we can respond quickly to every review about your property, positioning your hotel as proactive and committed to cleanliness.
3. Share Your Housekeeping Efforts on Social Media
Businesses everywhere are getting creative when it comes to meeting the needs of their customers during the spread of COVID-19. Southwest Airlines sent an email (view example) to its customers to inform them of the updates they’ve made to their cleaning procedures. In planning your response to the coronavirus, you should think about what will help reduce guest concerns. Some hotels have been providing travel-size hand sanitizers to their guests upon check-in. Others have suspended breakfast buffets, offering plated breakfasts as an alternative for the time being. Whatever you’re doing to reduce the spread of germs at your property, you can share that information on your social media pages.
If you’re a current Travel Media Group social media customer, you can use the TMG OneView® social media calendar to add notes about the measures you’re taking at the property in response to COVID-19. By letting us know what your procedures are, we can feature your hotel on social media to show your dedication to guest safety.
To stay updated on COVID-19, please refer to the CDC website.
How to Increase Bookings When Occupancy Dips
There are concerns in the industry that the COVID-19 disease may impact travel behavior in the coming months. However, early signs in the U.S. aren’t as concerning as the general panic may lead you to believe. The STR Weekly Hotel Report for the U.S. for the week of February 23-29, 2020, showed a year-over-year variance in occupancy of -1.7%. That occupancy dip was accompanied by an ADR variance of +1.6%. These numbers are in keeping with STR’s 2020 forecast that as supply and demand increase, hotels in the U.S. may experience a dip in occupancy and a lift in ADR. Certainly, these are early numbers and it will be important to continue tracking occupancy trends throughout March and into Q2 of 2020. For updated forecasts from STR, please read this post.
When occupancy for the market is down, hotels must earn more market share if they want to continue to experience revenue growth. Now is the time to focus on maximizing market share. That’s why reputation management and social media tactics are vital for your hotel. Guests are going to be more critical than ever when it comes to cleanliness at your property. You must have a strategy in place to consistently manage guest feedback and communication online.
“Situations like this are pass/fail for hotels,” said Erica Jo Rago, sales director at Travel Media Group. “When a traveler sees your hotel online, their first impression will categorize you as a ‘dirty hotel’ or a ‘clean hotel’. That’s why you can’t afford to ignore your reputation right now.”
Partner with experts who understand crisis response marketing. At Travel Media Group, our reputation and social media analysts are experts in resolving guest concerns. Through TMG OneView® and our response approval system, you can stay informed and approve every response we write before it’s published. There’s no better time to get started with a free consultation. Let us help you gain market share despite travel concerns related to COVID-19.