By: Scott Falconer, Executive Vice President/General Manager, Media Solutions, Hospitality, Amadeus
Today, travelers have to deal with new regulations around restrictions and requirements, changing quarantine guidelines, and shifting flight availability. To help plan an end-to-end travel itinerary (from booking to hotel and back home), travelers need time, knowledge, and experience.
Over the years, the travel industry has seen many challenges. Maybe not of this scale, but the industry has faced social and economic disruptions that have made a long-term impact. As an industry, we’ve always persevered and come out stronger. When we consider today’s travel environment, the partnership between hotels and travel consultants will play a key role in regaining travelers’ confidence and assisting them through all stages of their journey.
In a COVID-19 world, skills like adaptability, flexibility, critical thinking, and tech-savviness are imperative. This, combined with human creativity and innovation to discover new products and new ways of doing things will shape what is needed to rebuild hospitality for the future.
What are the expectations of today’s traveler?
These days travelers don’t necessarily need to get on a plane, train, or car to go to a hotel, as ‘staycations’ have become a growing trend. Catering to the needs of remote workers and those with families remote learning, hoteliers are crafting custom ‘flexcation’ packages that provide leisure travelers with space to remote work and learn while away from home.
We also see some early trends in return to business travel. With this in mind, businesses with employees in need of travel will likely mandate their employees book via their corporate travel tool or travel management company to get all the details about hygiene, compliance, traveler well-being, and ensure duty-of-care.
Regardless of the reason for their trip, travelers have a consistent set of concerns and expectations that will need to be addressed before they will book. First and foremost, it will be essential for them to understand local regulations and guidelines related to COVID-19. The sanitation and safety processes and protocols through each phase of travel, whether by car, rail, or air and for accommodations once they’ve reached their destination, will need to be communicated. Once this primary need has been met, all traditional traveler expectations about services, amenities, and personalization will also need to be achieved.
Partnership: A key to instilling confidence
With this in mind, the partnership between hotelier and travel agent will be key to pave the path for recovery. When hotels provide travel agents with the relevant information needed to instill traveler confidence, they can support travelers in their desire to begin to travel again and increase bookings through this critical channel. Beyond addressing their primary needs and considering the rapidly evolving situation with COVID-19, hoteliers must also consider ways to make their offer more attractive with features like flexible cancellations, room service, touchless check-in – all to help minimize the risk to travelers.
Tips for hoteliers to ensure they are under the spotlight
Here are some tips for hoteliers on how they can ensure travel agencies, corporations, and individual travelers around the world get the info, the offers, and the options they need to build the perfect package for their next trip:
- Watch for changing travel guidance in both your hotel’s market and feeder markets from which key customers are traveling. Use this to inform your marketing and communication strategies.
- Clearly communicate all sanitation and safety protocols across booking channels to ensure travelers have the most current and up-to-date guidance for your property and region.
- Allow for flexible cancellation policies to encourage corporations the reassurance to book without negatively impacting their business if travel guidance changes in the short-term.
- Start marketing to corporations near your property to yield a faster impact. Be sure you understand how your property is positioned within distribution and identify strategies to differentiate your offer from your competitive set.
- Ensure sales team members have the full context of what your property can offer during this recovery window. Incentivize them for remaining in contact with key customers to sustain business relationships and understand when customer business travel can resume to identify your ideal timing to re-engage corporate marketing efforts.
- Ensure sales team members are maintaining your contact database via regularly scheduled check-in calls, particularly since many corporations are experiencing staff changes during this time.
- Consider creating new packages to incentivize corporations to book with your property. Refresh sales enablement collateral to contain the most up-to-date and relevant information for your offers and focus on offer quality and value.
- Assess your current strategy for management of corporate-negotiated rate business as corporations are likely facing economic impact and could benefit from more dynamic pricing models as a strategy to help increase booked business.
How can we help?
Hoteliers must build a plan based on current, relevant business insight. With unprecedented market changes, historical context is no longer relevant. Hoteliers must understand what is happening in their market today and looking to the weeks and months ahead. Amadeus’ Business Intelligence suite of solutions provide industry-leading insight with a regularly updated 360-degree view of on-the-books rate, occupancy, and distribution trends for both forward-looking and historical data to inform your marketing strategies. This includes Agency360®, the only solution to provide 100% visibility into travel agent bookings from all four major GDS providers.
Hotel and travel agent partnerships have historically been an effective way to support traveler journeys around the world. With this in mind, Amadeus recently released additional functionality in the Agency360® solution to provide hoteliers with the ability to identify which agencies and corporations are bringing value to their business and develop stronger relationships. Combining this insight with Amadeus’ GDS Advertising and Preference offerings enables hoteliers to build strategies to get the right message in front of the right audience at the right time. By increasing visibility with travel agents, hoteliers can provide the information they need to confirm traveler bookings and grow revenue.
Working together, hotels and travel agents are a dynamic force to build traveler confidence to return to the roads, skies, and accommodations. While much remains to be seen for this recovery, one thing is certain – the hospitality industry is resilient and will return with the support of partnership, collaboration, and innovation.
To learn more about how to build a successful marketing plan based on accurate, real-time data, download our new guide, “How to Fuel Your Media Strategy with 360-Degree Data.”