With COVID-19 at the very forefront of most people’s consciousness, it is vital for hotels and resorts to include hygiene information within their marketing content. After all, potential guests are now much more likely to make travel decisions with hygiene measures and other coronavirus safety concerns in mind. Read on to find out more about how hygiene is displacing other issues as the main marketing message for hotels to focus on.
What is the Essence of Marketing?
Marketing can be broadly defined as the activities and processes that a company uses to communicate value to potential customers, business partners and the general public. This can include a wide range of different approaches and techniques, but the focus is always on communicating information that appeals to a target audience.
In essence, marketing is about creating value by identifying, anticipating and satisfying the needs, wants and expectations of customers. Of course, it is important to understand that different types of customers may want different things, and that customer needs can shift over time, in line with industry or societal changes.
Within the hotel industry, or the wider hospitality industry, success will mean showcasing the right product (such as a room or a service) with the right message (based on consumer needs and wants) via the right distribution channel (such as your hotel website or an online travel agency) in order to optimise demand.
Hygiene is an Urgent Need for All Type of Travellers
The outbreak of COVID-19 has brought hygiene to the very forefront of human concerns, especially given even basic hygiene measures, such as hand washing, are a crucial defence mechanism against the virus. With borders gradually opening in time for the summer holiday season, travel is slowly picking up again too and hotels need to respond.
Of course, some of the main concerns customers have will be familiar. For instance, people will make decisions based on the type of holiday they prefer, the type of accommodation they want to stay in, the level of service they expect, and the budget that they are operating on. Yet, the concern with hygiene will now dominate the landscape like never before.
This is now a need that all travellers have in common. People want to know that their holiday is going to be safe and that they can actually enjoy themselves. While hygiene has always been a relevant concern, COVID-19 has meant it is now a major deciding factor and poor hygiene practices could ruin a holiday and even represent a threat to life.
By focusing your hotel policies and processes on hygiene, you can help to keep your guests safe and by promoting your hygiene practices and standards in your marketing content, you can potentially attract more guests too.
“Hygiene will be an important marketing message in the hospitality and travel industry for a while,” says Martijn Barten, founder of Revfine.com. “All travellers have different holiday needs, but during the booking process they will search for assurances that they are making the right choice. By taking your hygiene policy seriously and communicating it well, you can offer people a safe stay, which is crucial for facilitating the kind of relaxing and enjoyable trip guests will look forward to. That may be the difference between them choosing your hotel or choosing to book with a competitor.”
5 Tips to Use Hygiene in Your Communication
The following five tips can help those involved with hotel management and marketing efforts to communicate hygiene standards effectively, so that potential guests have the required confidence to complete a booking.
1. Communicate Hygiene Measures on the Homepage of Your Website
One of the biggest steps you can take to make hygiene a core part of your hotel marketing strategy is to put it front and centre on your website’s homepage. A general message, which highlights some of the measures you are taking, will help to indicate to potential guests that you are prioritising their safety.
From there, you can link to more information about your hygiene policies, staff training and your overall compliance with government regulations. Examples of some of the steps you might highlight include contactless payments, increased cleaning, physical shields between restaurant tables, and availability of hand sanitiser.
2. Highlight Hygiene Measures During the Booking Process
Although your homepage is important, the booking process is the place where a website visitor actually converts, and they may need encouragement along the way. This makes it important to draw attention to your hygiene measures during the booking process itself and there are a number of ways you can do this effectively.
For instance, within your room description, you can highlight steps you are taking to keep people safe, such as enhanced cleaning, washing bed linen at 90 degrees, disinfecting all products, providing contactless room service, etc.
3. Alter Hotel Description on Online Distribution Channels
Many of your potential guests will discover your hotel through online distribution channels, such as Booking.com or Expedia, and they will often use these platforms to make comparisons with other hotels. Given the increased importance of hygiene, it is crucial that you reference it in your hotel descriptions on these platforms too.
In your overall hotel description, you can highlight the fact that you have taken additional steps and provide a brief summary, and in your room descriptions and other marketing content on the platforms, you can then go into further detail about precisely what it is you are offering.
4. Communicate Hygiene Measures in Confirmation or Pre-Arrival Emails
In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, effective communication with guests prior to their arrival has become even more essential. In confirmation and other pre-arrival emails, you can take the time to explain hygiene measures and reassure people that they will be safe and able to enjoy their stay in your hotel. You can also provide practical information.
For instance, it may be that you have switched to a mobile check-ins policy, or that you have altered room service, so that guests can enjoy all meals in their room. You should also communicate local policies outside of hotels and other hospitality environments, such as local laws or recommendations on things like social distancing.
5. Explain Your Hygiene Policies Throughout Your Hotel
Finally, you should take the time to highlight your hygiene and other COVID-19 safety policies in your hotel. Direct guests to further information, which could be placed on leaflets in rooms, or the hotel website or app. You might also wish to highlight restaurant policies, so that guests feel comfortable staying in to eat.
Crucially, you should provide this information in relevant locations around the hotel itself. If you are providing contactless check-ins and check-outs, highlight this in your hotel reception area. If you are providing additional room service features, place the information in guest rooms, where it is most relevant.
Promoting Hygiene Through Contactless Payments
Contactless payments allow customers to complete transactions without having to use cash or make any physical contact with payment terminals. Instead, using wireless technology, it is possible to make contactless card, smartphone, smartwatch or smart wristband payments, which can greatly benefit customers prioritising hygiene.
In the article “Contactless Payments Are Becoming More Important Within Hospitality”, you will be able to learn much more about the emergence of contactless payments, the value of accepting contactless payments within the hospitality industry, and examples of some of the methods that are available.
The Role of Mobile Check-In Technology for Hygiene
In recent times, one of the biggest technological innovations with the hotel industry has been the rise of mobile check-in apps and similar technology, serving as a key-less method for guests to check-in and gain access to their room. Clearly, when in place, this is another area where hygiene benefits can be promoted.
Read “Mobile Check-In App for Hotels: What Are the Benefits?” for a closer look at the technology behind mobile check-in apps and some of the key benefits for hotels, aside from promoting a hotel as being conscious of hygiene.
Hotel Marketing: Keep Pace With the Latest Hotel Trends
Effective hotel marketing is one of the major ingredients of success in the industry, but actually implementing a successful strategy requires you to understand and keep up with the latest hotel trends, from customer experience marketing and influencer marketing, through to using modern technology like AI and virtual reality.
By reading the article “Hotel Marketing; The Latest Trends in the Hotel Industry”, you will find out more about hotel marketing, why it is so important, and what the latest trends in the hotel industry actually are.
Since the threat of COVID-19 first became apparent, the importance of hygiene has been central, especially as it is one of the main ways to keep the virus at bay. With this in mind, hotels need to adapt their marketing messages to emphasise the hygiene measures they have put in place, in order to keep guests safe.