After the unprecedented Worldwide Public Health emergency lockdown, there are going to be many operational changes both recommended and required, alongside some creativity with promotional rates in the new emerging travel landscape.
How accommodation providers re-assure their guests on matters concerning their health and safety could be key to securing their business in the first place.
This heightened level of focus on safety and infection prevention is going to become the new normal.
Here I am going to highlight some ideas and initiatives that responsible providers will want to consider for their business.
Revenue and Rate strategy
With a deep and long drop in demand predicted to continue until a cure for the virus is found and so many travel itineraries and habits changed, extended stay discounts are currently prevalent in many markets.
Alongside this, rates should be as flexible as possible (at least while any threat of a return to travel restrictions both domestic and international remain), this means anything but non-refundable rates should be on offer.
The average daily rate (ADR) will react to identified demand and could suffer from an expected short booking window where guests book accommodation anything from 10 days before, up to the night before travel. Although it could be that, release from lockdown road maps give some re-assurance for guests to book further out. This means that automated pricing tools may not be tuned in to a new type of buyer behaviour.
With there still no prospect of corporate travel, it will be the leisure market which returns first and Marketing activities to previous guests and target markets should be part of an overall communication plan which could feature some of the ideas here.
With enhanced cleaning initiatives now being demanded by OTA’s alongside 24 hr buffer periods between bookings; Airbnb will demand this from May if hosts cannot commit to their new cleaning protocol. The onus is going to be on providers to respond to the new health and safety requirements and even partner with independent verification and certification bodies such as Bureau Veritas like Accor hotels.
For serviced accommodation providers this independent assessment could come from the local tourist board or associations such as ASAP.
This heightened level of focus on safety and infection prevention is going to become the new normal and while hotel’s already have detailed SOP’s for their cleaning procedures; this is not always the case in the serviced accommodation sector. Hilton have already upped their standards to introduce a Covid-busting ‘Cleanstay’ programme to address the hygiene and cleanliness concerns of their future guests.
Clear information needs to be available to guests regarding cleaning, down to the training of cleaners; products and processes being followed and ideally the use of professional linen services. This should be on the website, in communication to guests and even on the property listing.
However, with communication overload becoming an issue, there should also be visible reminders and evidence in rooms of the attention to detail and deep cleaning processes in place.
This could take the form of visual checklists to expensive air cleaning technology. Guests could also be provided with their own supply of Clorox wipes to clean their room when returning from outside.
The details and scheduling of housekeeping tasks can be automated and tailored to your needs with sophisticated apps attached to your PMS like in Zeevou or purchased as bolt-on’s to integrate with your existing PMS like Breezeway. Both ways can give peace of mind, to the host who is removed from the cleaning process, that the quality of the job meets the increased expectations and standards now being demanded.
As businesses have had time to assess their operations and set up; while demand and the number of bookings are low could be the best time to ditch a legacy PMS which doesn’t integrate with all the channels and bolt on technology apps you want or need. Now could be the time to make the migration to a more robust system to future proof the business as the better times slowly begin to make a return.
For more information regarding the choices out there for property management systems and channel managers see my blog titled: What system do I need for my serviced accommodation business? And contact me for more information at email@example.com