Staring at a 3-month pandemic lockdown?
Struggling on how to make use of this time?
In the second part of his list of essential actions for hotels, Austen Bushrod helps the lockdown pass faster than you can say ‘Vaccine’!
This article focusses on how you can better connect with your old, and new, customers and drive that growth after the lockdown has ended.
If you are going to make it to Spring, and the vaccine rollout has made a dent on this long-suffered pandemic, then this is a golden time to be preparing. Unlike previous lockdowns, we can be fairly sure that it will last at least the full first quarter. Having been there before, we kind of know what to expect.
5. Brush up on your Social Media
If you haven’t realised it yet, 95% of the world – and your customers – are on social media. The world’s most successful companies rely on their social media presence to connect with people and position their products and services. Hotels are quite far behind the curve on this one.
The easy first step is to look at how other people are doing it. Don’t just look at hotels though. Hotels using other hotels as benchmarks often leaves the industry lagging behind. Think outside the industry at companies that you admire.
If you are going to strengthen your social media position, here are a few points to consider:
· Choose the right channels that suit your property (Instagram or TikTok anybody?)
· Commit to content – you have to work at it
· Schedule how regularly you will update.
· Be yourself/the hotel – Don’t even try to be someone else
· If you aren’t sure, get some help!
Even if you have a social media presence, the coming months are a perfect time to re-look at it and refresh.
6. Create a Marketing Calendar
I am often surprised by hotels that don’t have a formal calendar of their marketing activities in place.
Yes, they may well know that their Christmas Party push needs to kick in in September, but how many people rush around every year like it is a complete surprise? When I worked in large hotel groups, I always pushed the hotels to think about Christmas from February. When I worked in Bingo, we had ordered the Easter Eggs by October, at the very latest!
While you have a chance to be away from the day-to-day business, take some time to think about all of your marketing activity, small or large, seasonal or ‘ad-hoc’ and create a calendar. You have a real chance to put something in play here that will change your life for years to come. It doesn’t need to be set in stone, but at least having an idea of the types of marketing initiatives that you need to be working on (and when) will be incredibly useful.
Every month you should know what the main marketing efforts need to be, even if you are preparing them months in advance.
7. Tidy Your Website
Come on! Really? Have you not realised that your website is your window to the world?
I have worked with many hotel websites over the years and there is so much that can be done. I recommend getting expert support that focusses on the look, feel and customer experience. The truth is though, you can see so much, just by logging onto your own site! When did you last do that??
Here are some nuggets to get you started
· People don’t scroll – the further down the page, the less its likely to be seen
· Test it for dead links – as soon as someone clicks a link that doesn’t go anywhere, they lose faith in you
· Do you have ‘Calls to Action’ – if this phrase is new to you, then the world is your oyster!
· What is your customer looking for? Does your site answer this question, or is it just some pretty pictures of something (your hotel) that you are proud of
As I advised with social media, look for inspiration beyond the realms of other hotel websites. This can be a really fun exercise if you start looking at websites from the customer experience angle.
8. Carry out a ‘Virtual’ customer journey
So - I have reached number eight in the list, and I have saved the best for last. I have shared my remote customer journey technique with dozens of hoteliers over many years. It is worth taking some time over it. Like many techniques, practice helps. The more you do it, the better you become!
Lockdowns have given us a huge opportunity to step away from our businesses. This may seem counter-intuitive but being apart from where we work daily can actually help us to understand our premises better and how things work.
Many have benefitted by following this following ‘mini-process’ that I can share in a few short paragraphs.
It goes without saying, a great customer experience is a critical key to success. There are many ‘journeys’ within a hotel. Think about not just checking in, but also perhaps parking, booking a table in the restaurant, or getting a drink from the bar. If you start by making a list of all the activities that a customer might experience when they are with you, you will have a great framework for review.
Now describe it. Take one ‘journey’. Shut your eyes in a quiet location and imagine it through the eyes of your visitor. Don’t think about it from the point of view of how you would interact with them, but focus on what they would see, hear, smell… where their senses would take them if they were a new visitor with no prior experience of your hotel.
Already you may find yourself raising questions – make sure you have a notepad to quickly right them down. Repeat this process a few times until it becomes a familiar imaginary journey for you.
Write it down. Leaving this insight in your head means that it will be lost. Writing down what the customer goes through, again in terms of the senses, will help you to review it and break it down into processes – small steps that you will be able to individually describe and address.
From your descriptions you will be able to break down the experience into a list of interactions – but a list in which you already understand the feelings and emotions in play from a customer perspective.
Take your ‘Experience List’, and one-by-one review each stage and identify where potential improvement is possible and how you would go about doing it. By the end of this process, it is likely you will have a wide range of tweaks to the customer journey. If you don’t then it may be that you have everything right – or it may be that you need to go back to that quiet space and start the journey again!
Over the last two articles, I have described eight activities that can help you make the most of what hopefully will be the last Covid lockdown. Having activities to focus on are important for our mental wellbeing.
Of course, there are other things that you can choose to do – this list has been inspired by my own support of independent hotels over the last few months. All are on an equivalent journey through the pandemic – but the outcome for each will be varied.
If you would like to talk further about any of the subjects enclosed, please do contact me on HotelCostClinic.com on directly via LinkedIn.
While you are here, please take time to have a look around HotelCostClinic.com and see where the team might help you over the coming months and throughout 2021.