It is vital to ensure your hotel is safe for your guests and staff during COVID. However, even if your hotel’s COVID measures are set up correctly, the communication regarding these measures is just as important. Below you find a COVID communication plan for your hotel.
Processes in the Four Stages of Your Guest’s Journey
We’ve prepared a handy checklist to ensure your guests are provided with the right information. Make sure that extra marketing activities are included in every phase of your guest’s journey: from visiting your hotel’s website until they have returned home.
Stage 1: Pre-booking
It is essential to acknowledge that the interests of your potential guests have changed. Your hotel’s cancellation policy, safety, and hygiene regulations are now more important than ever. If customers cannot find this information on your website, they will likely check out other hotels. Therefore, an optimized website is crucial. Here are some tips for optimizing your website:
1. Add a COVID Page on Your Website
Information that should be included on this page is:
- Which hygiene measures your hotel is taking to avoid spreading the virus (distance, face mask, cleaning policy, presence of disinfectant gel, etc.);
- Outline the rules and restrictions for your hotel’s different areas (for example, restaurant/buffet hall, rooms, reception area, swimming pools);
- Outline your cancellation policy for all the different scenarios (new domestic/foreign regulations).
You can also include a FAQ page that links to the different information on your COVID page and national guidelines about COVID.
2. Highlight the Most Relevant Information on Every Page
Make sure that the most relevant information with regard to COVID measures is displayed on every page. For example: if your hotel offers a free cancellation policy, make sure this is visible on every page of your website or add pop-ups.
3. Change Images and Videos
You might want to revise the photos and videos that are used on your website. Photos and videos of your hotel with a crowded swimming pool or restaurant might scare potential guests. You can also consider adding an informational video with your hotel’s COVID guidelines.
4. Be Visible on Social Media
Not only your hotel’s website should be optimized; your COVID policy should also be visible on your social media channels.
Extra Tips for Hotel Chains:
First, for hotel chains, it is important that the COVID information is adjusted for every single hotel. This might sound logical, but in practice, we often see that only general information and guidelines are provided on the hotel branches’ website pages, while location-specific details are much more relevant for your potential guests.
Second, if your hotel branches are in charge of their websites and social media channels, make sure the user information and pictures are consistent and follow your brand identity. Since we live in a fast-moving world, following the hotel’s brand guidelines can sometimes be neglected by your hotel branches. Consider using a Digital Asset Management system, such as Marvia, where all your photos, videos, and other marketing/communication materials are centralized. All employees of different branches have constant access to the right assets.
Stage 2: Pre-arrival
Good job! The customer is convinced that your hotel is the best place to spend his or her holiday. A few things are essential in the before-arrival phase:
1. Make Sure Your Booking Confirmation Email is Adapted for the New Situation
Ensure your safety guidelines, cancellation policy, and other measures are highlighted in the confirmation email and add a link to your COVID website page.
2. Get Personal
Your guests’ opinion-forming starts directly after booking. In these challenging times, engaging with your existing customers can be very meaningful. Therefore, make sure that every contact there is from now is personalized. Pre-arrival emails with questionnaires are the perfect opportunity to get to know your guests and offer customized services. You can also give them the option to add extras to their booking, like personalized gifts that will make their stay unique.
3. Offer Digital Check-In Possibilities
Long waiting lines at your hotel’s front-office are the last thing you want during this pandemic. By adding an online check-in possibility sent via email before arrival, you reduce the time spent at your front-office and prevent your arrival hall from being crowded.
4. Keep in Touch by Providing Relevant Content
The guests who have booked their room weeks or even months before their arrival: keep them informed by providing relevant information. When there are new rules and regulations regarding the COVID situation, update them as fast as possible. Keep them engaged by providing relevant, informative, or entertaining content, such as a blogpost with traveling or airport tips during COVID.
Stage 3: During Stay
Your guests have arrived! Now your guests must have a safe and hassle-free stay and an excellent experience in your hotel. You have been communicating your guidelines in the previous phases. Now it is time to live up to the expectations. Make sure all COVID expressions inside your hotel are consistent in their message and in line with your hotel’s corporate identity. Even when your hotel rules are changing, you should prevent your hotel from displaying self-made communication materials that aren’t in line with your brand guidelines.
Especially for hotel chains or multi-location hotels, employees at every branch must be empowered to make on-brand marketing and communication materials themselves. Distributing materials from the headquarters’ communications department to every hotel is in times of COVID not achievable and undoubtedly not efficient. Using special Hotel Marketing Software, you can allow employees at every branch to easily create, manage, and order marketing materials that align with your hotel’s corporate identity.
Branded Templates allow your hotel’s employees to quickly generate every communication material they need and modify it for their own branch. From the COVID house rules posters at your front desk to signage or even door hangers, every material can be made consistent with your corporate identity and edited for every hotel, which increases your brand’s visibility and the time-to-market.
Stage 4: Post-stay
Your guests have left your hotel, but that doesn’t mean your hotel should leave your guests’ minds. During COVID, retention marketing is more important than ever. Why? First, because people aren’t able to travel around the world anymore. They are more likely to stay in their own country or continent, which increases the possibility of revisiting your hotel when they have had an excellent stay. Second, during COVID, people are very likely to choose hotels based on experiences from others.
If your guests had a fantastic stay at your hotel, there is a big chance family and friends will also consider staying at your hotel. Here are a few extra tips to keep your guests joyful and your hotel top-of-mind after they have left:
1. Give Your Guests a Personalized Gift
When checking-out, give your guests a personalized thank you card, discount voucher, or goodie bag for the next stay at your hotel(s). This will make them feel appreciated. You can easily let your branches make on-brand and personalized cards, vouchers, or flyers.
2. Sent them a Questionnaire
You are probably curious to know how your guests experienced staying at your hotel during COVID. Assuming that you already have a questionnaire sent to your guests by email afterward, make sure this email is adjusted for the new situation. Add concrete questions about the COVID regulations in your hotel. When they have complaints, take serious steps to improve your hotel’s COVID measures. Apologize to the guest and let them know you’re taking their feedback seriously.
Additionally, you can send a gift or voucher to apologize, depending on the complaint’s degree. When guests are positive about your hotel, you could send them a follow-up email with an invite to share their review on Tripadvisor or Trustpilot.
3. Keep in Touch With Previous Guests
Not everyone might be able to visit your hotel at the moment, so don’t forget the guests that have stayed in your hotel in the past. Keep them close so they will choose your hotel again after the crisis. Make a list of your most loyal guests and provide them with personalized, relevant, and entertaining content via different channels.
As long as the hotel industry is under pressure, a well thought out communication strategy for every phase of your guests’ stay is the key to satisfy your guests and to beat your competitors. Consistent use of your hotel’s corporate identity should never be underestimated in this. Keep these tips in mind when optimizing your COVID communications strategy and your hotel will be able to survive the pandemic.