At the heart of hospitality is the human relationship, one that resonates with service with a smile and people will always remember how you treated them.
Whether it’s guests who are still planning to travel or are rescheduling a vacation, canceling a work trip, or scrambling to postpone a wedding, chances are they are feeling the strain of these uncertain times. They might be worried for their health, scared of spending money in a time of uncertainty, nervous about the stability of their job, or grieving the delay of a joyous event. This is where your COVID-19 hotel communication strategy can play a pivotal role.
If you can be their calm in the storm, not only will you instill loyalty for a lifetime – they’ll become your biggest (and most vocal) advocates. Here’s how to win guest loyalty with your COVID-19 hotel communication strategy.
Before we dive in, be sure to visit our ultimate guide to guest loyalty to access an all-encompassing rundown of guest loyalty, its evolving nature along with proven strategies to position your brand for successful long term guest relationships.
Be flexible and empathetic to guests who have been affected
Proactively communicate with guests who have upcoming stay dates. Show you prioritize their safety by being transparent about the conditions in your area, what guests should realistically expect, and how your property is taking action.
Leverage your CRM to contact guests who have bookings during the next 3-6 months and provide timely updates on:
- Changes to the local rules and regulations and how your hotel is responding.
- Tips on how guests should prepare to make this trip as easy and worry-free as possible.
- Details on your property’s deep cleaning and sanitation procedures.
- Relaxed or eliminated cancellation penalties.
- Options that encourage rescheduling upcoming trips: Vouchers, special rates, rate flexibility.
Address your audience’s concerns with prominent, helpful content
Your guests are seeking transparency and comfort. Create highly visible content that responds to the latest developments in your region to show how you’re prioritizing the safety and cleanliness of your property.
Plan to update COVID-19 related assets several times. The information your guests are seeking will change based on the conditions in your location and whether your property is quiet, operating at reduced capacity, closed, or prepping for reopening.
Create an FAQ page that details your hotel’s response
Start the page with a sentence or two acknowledging that the decision to travel is a hard one right now, and that your hotel is doing everything it can to put guest and staff safety first.
It’s vital to maintain an empathetic tone – while they may not explicitly mention their fear or anxiety, your guests still want to feel like you understand what they are going through.
List the information guests seek most:
- Updated cancellation and flexible rate policies.
- Information for group bookings.
- Your actions to ensure guest and staff safety, such as stricter housekeeping standards and sanitation procedures.
- Modifications to services and temporary closures.
- Where guests can go for frequent updates.
- Who they should contact concerning changes to their reservation or with questions about the conditions at your property.
As you field more questions from guests, you can continue to update this page.
Highlight property updates across all public channels where your property has a presence
People always want the information that they’re seeking as quickly as possible – and they want it faster when they are stressed or scared. Make sure all the mindful content you’ve created is as easy as possible to find.
- Website banners: Draw the eye with a prominent, caring message and links to landing pages that provide more details.
- Social media: Pin a link to your FAQ page on your Facebook and Twitter pages. Share posts that show the different ways you are taking action – from housekeeping standards to flexible rate options – and make sure to update any changes to your daily hours.
- Google My Business: Update your profile to reflect any modifications to your hours of operation and make a post to let your audience know how COVID-19 has affected your services.
Respond readily and consistently to inquiries
While helpful web content can help stem the flow of inquiries, many customers will still come to you directly for help.
Build response guidelines
Ensure communication is consistent across channels and personnel (such as your call center team), whether there is one person manning the front lines or twenty. Be sure to outline:
- How to respond empathetically.
- Expectations for response times on each channel.
- Which questions should be prioritized.
- Policy or process changes (such as an updated cancellation policy) they may need to explain to the customer.
Draft template responses to use across messaging platforms
Templates will enable you to respond more quickly and accurately across Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct, Twitter, and email. These can be crafted quickly by distilling your FAQs. Create additional templates as needed as requests come in.
You can repurpose the new templates as updates to your FAQ page to ensure that it addresses your guests’ most recent concerns.
Customer-centric communication is just part of the equation.
This crisis marketing series is built to help you navigate this pandemic and provide useful, practical information that you can start implementing today.