Originally published in Hotel Online
Hospitality leaders that have formulated marketing and operational strategies around “Generation Clean” are best positioned to move forward from COVID-19.
Before we dive in, be sure to visit our ultimate guide to elevating guest satisfaction full of tips, insights and data points on how to improve your hotel service and ensure optimal guest satisfaction.
Paradigm shifts in travel due to the health crisis have affected guest expectations, requiring hoteliers to rethink operational procedures and communications. But we know one thing for sure – safety and cleanliness continue to be the top consideration and potential barrier to travel. Hotels that best position their marketing and operational practices to meet the needs of the new Generation Clean guest – a singular segment with heightened cleanliness expectations that influence booking decisions – will be the ones to capture available demand.
The Generation Clean Guest: Understanding their Priorities
When it comes to booking a hotel, two out of three travelers say COVID-19 prevention measures are very important to know before they book, while only 25% say price is the key driver behind selecting their next destination. That means Generation Clean prioritizes health and sanitation standards in booking decisions and wants to feel the property is doing enough to ensure safety. Increased guest confidence during their shopping experience will ultimately power bookings, and it’s safe to say professional planners will want an in-depth look at hygiene measures as corporate and group business returns.
Including cleanliness standards on the website and booking engine will make the property more attractive to shoppers. Pre-arrival emails that highlight specific safeguards the property is implementing, along with any changes to cancellation policies, will be welcome and appreciated by guests.
Consumers will want to arrive in an atmosphere that feels safe, clean, and poised to offer unique experiences that will inevitably surprise and delight. They will also want to have some level of control over their environment.
86% of frequent travelers said having the option to suspend daily housekeeping would significantly impact comfort levels. 62% of guests say they would prefer to check-in and out digitally through a hotel app. Providing hand sanitizers, masks, wipes, and personal hygiene kits can further increase comfort, just as visible cleaning cues and sanitation-related signage can ease travel-related concerns.
Continuing to engage with customers after they’ve left the property is a crucial component to increasing satisfaction and repeat visits. Consider sending personalized thank you notes and develop post-stay satisfaction surveys to gain valuable feedback on ways to improve service delivery. Leverage your customer relationship management (CRM) solution to automate and manage personalized communications, improve overall conversion rates, and build guest loyalty.
The Hotel Operator: 3 Ways to Address Generation Clean’s Concerns
For hoteliers today, understanding and reacting to changing realities means questioning what can be done to protect or even improve the hotel’s product, processes, and people.
Protection of Product
History shows that building conditions can play a critical role in the spread of disease. But if buildings can make things worse, they can also make things better. In fact, recent research found that when filtration rates were increased above industry minimums, there was a 50% reduction in the relative risk of viral transmission. Schedule regular reminders for filters and ventilation systems to ensure optimal air quality. Plan for health checks on equipment and meter readings while reconfirming maintenance and housekeeping checklists meet today’s evolving standards. From public areas and outlets to guestrooms and back of house, having a trusted, well-trained team and the right technology to implement new procedures around the hotel’s entire organization can help reduce costs and mitigate risk.
Structured Cleaning Processes
Establishing clear step-by-step standard operating procedures (SOPs) and cleaning processes are crucial to enhancing the structured programs today’s travelers have come to expect. If your property does not have a current program in place, leverage one from a trusted industry organization like AHLA’s Safe Stay® or apply Amadeus’ disinfecting housekeeping checklist, endorsed by the International Executive Housekeeping Association (IEHA). It’s vital to document each checklist step as they’re executed to maintain consistency while sharing information with guests and stakeholders at scale. The ability to develop, implement, and communicate proven strategies to meet new cleanliness standards will be critical to any hotel’s future success.
Putting People First
In a people-first industry, having an ‘associates-first’ outlook can have the power to drive collaboration and execution of higher-level purpose and values. Having adequate training for new policies across departments coupled with appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) will help build confidence around new policies being put in place. Be open and transparent with both back of house and front-line teams who will be the hotel’s biggest champions for success.
The Marketer: 3 Ways to Attract Generation Clean to Your Property
As hoteliers move forward from COVID-19, restructuring traditional marketing plans to attract the Generation Clean guest will be critical in gaining market share. To capture the most opportunity moving forward, hotels must develop a multi-channel marketing approach to drive bookings, maximize revenue potential, and optimize the ability to emerge stronger in the year ahead.
Understand the Latest Traveler Sentiments
Understanding traveler sentiment will be essential as travel continues to evolve. A recent Amadeus global consumer survey found nearly 75% would travel immediately or within 1-3 months of travel restrictions being lifted, and hotel cleaning protocols were the #1 top-ranked category for travel comfort. Traveler insights can help hoteliers make informed, data-driven decisions based on the hearts and minds of guests. Keep a close eye on forward-looking booking trends, especially during traditional high seasons and travel peak periods.
Compare for Competitive Edge
Take this opportunity to analyze your competitive landscape with a COVID-specific lens to see what they’re offering, how and where they are promoting, and how they are succeeding. Raise questions such as:
- Have new properties opened or existing ones closed?
- Are they offering any new packages to attract the Generation Clean guest?
- How do properties compare in areas that are top of mind for today’s traveler, such as amenities, cleaning programs, and outdoor space availability?
Knowing how you stack up against the competition will help you and your team differentiate your offerings.
Grow Market Share
With budgets limited, it’s crucial to optimize digital advertising spend to allocate resources that will inspire guests to complete their booking. This includes pay-per-click (PPC), display, social, and metasearch. Use metasearch to drive direct bookings and maximize efforts with quality content such as images, videos, and traveler reviews. Reignite your SEO strategy by reviewing keywords to increase visibility across search engines. Emphasize remarketing to generate more bookings by using the display and social ads, as well as targeting travelers who may have canceled during the crisis.
New Changing Realities
If Generation Clean blurs the lines between market segments, it also blurs the lines between hospitality professionals and guests with simple commonalities – we all want to travel again. We care about safety and hotels want to provide a safe environment to welcome returning guests.
From booking preferences and guest expectations to restoring confidence and reexamining ways to generate demand, Generation Clean is part of our new changing reality with deep implications that will guide traveler behavior in the short and long-term.
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