Here are 10 top tips and key recommendations from industry experts for hotels and accommodation providers during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus has had an undeniable impact on international travel and the hospitality industry. Many hotels and other accommodation providers have had to make the sad decision to close their doors for the foreseeable, furloughing staff and dealing with a heartbreaking number of cancelled bookings. 

Whilst it is undeniably a very difficult time, this could present an opportunity to take stock, reflect and plan for the re-launch. Here at Visit Lincoln we are remaining positive as we know we have a fantastic product – and are working to ensure we can all best navigate the next few months.

In this article we have shared some key recommendations from industry experts to mitigate the impact. 

1. Don’t stop marketing your hotel, but do adapt your approach.

Focus on sharing your own experiences. Perhaps you are working with your local community during the crisis? Hosting Key workers for example, or helping with deliveries in the local area. Share these stories through your social media channels.

2. Focus on domestic and local markets

If the international market was traditionally your focus its time to concentrate in the domestic market. The impact of international travel restrictions and reduced flight timetables is likely to have a medium term effect at the very least. On the plus side this means we could see resurgence in domestic tourism. Google, have advised that search traffic for ‘staycations’ are up 50% YoY so far in 2020.

3. Be where the market is - focus on the areas where there is still a market.

Ensure you have brand PPC covered to capture those still looking to book your hotel and have a remarketing campaign in place to convert those still undecided, but who have already shown they might be in-market. Plan your autumn and Christmas campaigns now. Reach out to your regular customers. They are probably missing you as well! Could you piggy back with another local tourist attraction to undertake some joint marketing for the recovery period?

4. Get your ‘back office’ in order.

When was the last time you cleaned your CRM system, or reviewed your marketing strategy? Use this time to do all those tasks you inevitably put to one side

5. Engage in on-line training.

There is a wealth of on-line courses available. If digital has not been ‘your thing’ now is an excellent time to learn more. After all your digital presence is your only window at the moment to your clients. Visit Lincoln along with Lincolnshire County Council will be launching a series of content marketing training which is free to members over the next months.

6. Remove, or downplay, non-cancellable rates

Pre-paid rates are unlikely to be booked with the present levels of market uncertainty. Promote a super-flexible / book with confidence rate.

Look at the practicalities of allowing guests to move a booking to a new date should they wish to (reassuring new bookers as well). Evaluate your booking engine rates and descriptions to ensure that your cancellation policies, especially for flexible rates, are front and centre. Use ‘flexibility’ as one of your primary marketing messages.

7. Try to maintain your rates

Provided you have market parity, try to avoid reducing your rates as we all know how challenging it can be to recover this rate degradation when demand returns. Instead, look to promote added-value offers or the flexibility of your booking terms.

8. Reassure your guests

Highlight wherever you are going above and beyond to ensure guest safety, e.g. deep cleaning rooms etc. It’s also worth reiterating that you’re following local Governmental guidelines and best practices to minimise risk.

9. Prepare for the bounce back

The travel industry is resilient and we would anticipate that once the situation improves, demand should return. History, industry analysis and the fact that most of us will be accumulating holidays when not travelling, would suggest that returning demand is an inevitability.

10. Engage with your DMO.

This is imperative if we are to plan for a re-launch campaign!

Our teams are working hard to support businesses through this time. Please keep in touch and let us know your challenges, ideas or worries and we will do our best to support you.