COVID-19 and the measures taken to counter it have changed our world. Many material things and old habits were suddenly not necessary or desirable anymore, while others actually became more important. How does a hotel recover from the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly as possible? Make sure your operations and automation are in order, and make smart choices to reach both old and new target groups.
Most hotels had to cut back on staff as a result of the lockdown, especially on temporary contracts. There were no guests, so there was no work - for hotels in the business market, that is. The leisure market was less affected, as guests were absent for a shorter period of time.
Many hotel owners have taken a critical look at their operations over the past year. An important aspect of hotel operations is the supporting and facilitating software. Certain connections may be missing, which may cause information to get stuck somewhere in the process. As a result, the information needs to be manually re-entered later on.
How to get your team back at full strength?
Fortunately, the relaxation of restrictions results in an increase in hotel reservations. Staff are needed once again, but that is proving to be quite a problem. Many employees have branched out into other sectors and not all of them are returning.
So how do you get your team back up to strength? It certainly helps if you can offer interesting work. Staff won’t want to do boring, unnecessary, manual data-entry work or to copy guest details at check-in. You can easily digitise and automate that process. This has two advantages: you need fewer staff and you can deploy your staff where they can actually make a difference for your guests: they’ll be working to ensure that your guests have a hospitable and pleasant stay.
Rebranding alone is not enough
Commercially, too, the world looks different to many hotels now than it did before 2020. Chances are that you’ll have to attract a different kind of guest. It makes sense to focus on making your hotel interesting for the local leisure market. That’s because most people will spend their vacation in their own country this summer, just like last year. That’s called a staycation.
For hotels that used to rely mainly on the business market, this may mean that a major rebranding is necessary. After all, it will probably be some time before business trips, congresses, and fairs are back to an acceptable level.
But adjusted pricing and special arrangements for the over-50s, or extra facilities for families with children are not enough. First of all, it is wise to incorporate these new options in your booking software, so that they can be automated as well. Otherwise, your hotel may be ready, but all those extras will have to be added manually. That costs time, and therefore money.
Other target groups means other channels
These new target groups will have to be able to find you. You will have to reach them through different channels. Due to travel restrictions - and fear of travel - it makes little sense for Dutch hotels to invest in an American or a German booking site. It is better to be visible on local booking sites. Think, for example, of voordeeluitjes.nl, or weekendjeweg.nl. And, for a German hotel, hrs.de. Of course, German websites can also be very useful if you run a hotel on the Dutch coast and want many German guests.
Our Smart Channel Manager works with all booking sites, so switching or adding websites is a piece of cake. Not only do we take care of the technical part for our clients, but we also give advice on those choices. For every hotel we work for, we know exactly how much business they get from which booking site. We help hoteliers maintain control over where they sell their rooms. This way, they don't become too dependent on one or two channels for their online distribution. This gives you more freedom in your revenue management: through which channel do you want to sell which rooms, at which price, and to which target group?
An important distribution channel can also be your own website. We have a handy booking module for just that purpose, and more and more hotels are using that option. And that’s because it gives them increased control, and the booking process is organised just as well as that of booking.com. For most hotels, the subscription costs far less than the commission they pay each month on bookings made via external websites.
Boost your bookings
Based on our research and experience, we know what works and what doesn't work for every booking site, geographical market, and target group. Non-refundable or flexible rates, and bookings that can be changed up to the very last minute? Obviously, people are more willing to book if they can cancel or change their bookings free of charge – when forced by new COVID-19 measures, for example. That is certainly a way to boost your bookings, as we have noticed in recent weeks.
It is also important that your hotel is visible on those sites. What many hotel owners do not know is that you can influence this yourself. We have some great tips on how to do that without making expenses.
Would you like to know how to improve your operation, attract new target groups and gain more control over your revenue management? Feel free to make an appointment with me to see how your hotel can recover from the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly as possible.
For more than 16 years, SmartHOTEL has been helping hoteliers navigate the exciting world of online distribution. From our office based in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, our team serves independent hotels, hostels and chains worldwide by providing channel management and tailored online distribution solutions. A lot has changed over the last years, but our goal remains the same: simply connect hotels to the world. For any questions regarding our services, please contact us at email@example.com or call +31 (0)182 75 11 18.