One of the biggest causes of current traveler anxiety is confusion and uncertainty around how a business is addressing the impacts of Covid-19. This is exacerbated by inconsistencies in approaches between businesses, and between regions. It not only has to do with providing clarity around your new processes for hygiene and social distancing, but also any changes to your amenities that they may have come to expect.
The best way to overcome this? Communicate with your guests early and often. Guest communication and customer engagement is critical for making sure that your customers know everything you are doing to address the issues causing them anxiety, and the aspects of their stay that have changed due to Covid.
We’ve identified seven communication channels with potential opportunities for increased guest communication and customer engagement. They are:
Update your website with a prominent banner directing visitors to read your Covid-19 updates and initiatives.
Send a pre-arrival email to communicate all your new operating procedures. How things have changed, cleaning measures you’ve adopted, what’s open and available, and what guests can expect. Remember, the guest experience begins before they even arrive at your hotel. Create a sense of familiarity so that they’re not walking into the unknown upon arrival. Include contact information to open up dialogue with your guests before they arrive.
Acquire the rights to content posted on social media about your brand and property and re-post these on your social media channels, or in a user-generated content (UGC) gallery on your website. The more positive imagery you can show of actual guests using your services, the more your potential guests will be enticed to stay.
Create your own social media campaign to promote your new operating procedures. Video content or Instagram posts (consider carousel format) could be used to show your concierge staff greeting guests without shaking hands, your staff keeping the property clean, and guests enjoying contactless check-in etc. The more familiar your guests are with the new guest experience before they arrive, the more comfortable they will be.
Make sure your safety initiatives and flexible booking terms are promoted clearly on all external listings. Safety and flexibility will be priority items for people planning a trip so make sure this information is clear and upfront.
Use digital signage around the property to keep your guests informed of what’s happening onsite. Updates such as ‘this lobby was last cleaned at 4pm’ might reassure guests of how seriously you’re taking their safety. Make sure you have ample signage regarding the steps your hotel is taking to ensure guests are safe.
On-Premise Contactless Engagement
Go above and beyond by using on-premise prompts to provide value and improve the guest experience. Display QR codes linking to a digital form that guests can use to request items. For example, an empty minibar might be replaced by a card saying ‘Missing the minibar? Use this QR code to request items we can bring to your room’. Or in the lobby, your digital signage might say ‘Missing our lobby newspapers? Use this QR code to read today’s top headlines or request a paper be delivered to your room’.
Where possible, consider using SMS or social media messaging apps (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Twitter etc) to communicate directly with inhouse guests. Proactively ask them how they’re doing and what you can do to help make their stay more enjoyable. Two-way customer engagement while they’re still on-premise will build trust and ultimately improve the guest experience.
Ready to get started? Map out all your guest communication channels - for both potential and confirmed guests. Outline your existing protocols for each channel, identify the gaps, then get creative with communication and customer engagement ideas to improve the guest experience.
Local Measure has compiled a comprehensive Covid-19 Re-Opening Playbook for the hotel and hospitality industry - a best practice guide based on observations from thousands of hospitality customers across the globe. Download the full guide here.