New reality. Opportunities for resorts and hotels. - Irina Khomutova, Khomutova & Partners

New reality. Opportunities for sanatoriums and hotels.

In fact, it was a completely different year than any other, bringing a ton of contrasts to the hospitality industry. This dictates the need to analyze trends, as well as to consider all problems in perspective.

Of course, the coronavirus, as we saw in the previous crisis phenomena, has certainly complicated or even ruined a lot, causing ripples, and somewhere convulsions in the hospitality industry. Regardless of the negative consequences that have arisen, there are always new opportunities that arise as a result of any change. Let's try to understand everything, from changes in consumer behavior and expectations to trends in the concept of a hotel and a sanatorium.

To begin with, with the advent of the coronavirus, people's needs and wants have been fundamentally displaced, creating a need for the hotel industry to shape the new normal. What trends in the hospitality industry should you look out for and how best to navigate the myriad events taking place in the market.

Security as a new luxury

Going beyond is a typical phrase for great service. But how is this expressed in practice when it comes to health and safety measures? How can we meet expectations and provide excellent customer service during these challenging times. To begin with, it's time to introduce new standards for staff so that your guest feels safe and not busy with thoughts of their health.

There is no need to think that the situation is temporary and everything is about to return to the Dokovian level. As 2020 has shown and the incessant outbreaks here and there, there is no need to talk about any short-term stabilization, which means that we must thoroughly adapt to new conditions. The steps you can take directly include the following important and fairly simple steps.

First, to be close and understandable at every stage of the guest's journey to you, from the moment of booking to his return home safe and sound. For example, this could be a booking confirmation email containing all the security measures in place at the hotel. There is no need to think that "the guest already understands everything." It is not clear, there is a lot of conflicting information around, the guest is not obliged to spend time searching. Put together all the information you need, from check-in and what health certificates they should or shouldn't have, to cleaning protocols - and even activities guests can safely carry out at your hotel. Understand that obstacles in the form of a misunderstanding of your check-in prospects and doubts about your security standards can trigger a cancellation at any time after a booking has been confirmed.

Secondly, the creation of an increased level of security throughout the location. In your quest to take care of the health of each guest, you can create an atmosphere in which guests will feel safe, "at home" and even better. Build a personal connection with guests with the ability to collect operational feedback, solving all the questions and problems that the guest may have during his stay with you, without being too intrusive. It is important to understand that we are in a new reality and how it worked for years can now manifest itself in a completely new way. We may not foresee something or organize it poorly. And our guest will be able to promptly inform us about this. Be prepared to meet the new needs and desires of guests, whether it is organizing events to protect them from the coronavirus, or more generally, making sure the guest feels completely safe and clean. Our traditional norms and standards may not meet the new and increased needs of the guest and it is important to respond promptly to feedback.

Third, make information available to the public. Your colossal efforts to ensure the safety of the guest may be overlooked by the guests. They must be brought to their attention. The last thing we want is for guests to look for information, and worse still, they never find it. Don't let your efforts go to waste - make your guest-benefit information available wherever you think they might need it! More specifically, the first step is to prevent any doubts by providing as much information as possible prior to arrival. Use QR codes on any advertising and information media indicating your protocols, rules, processing schedules, etc. Ask guests during their registration if they are interested in receiving additional information by e-mail. This is an additional measure for particularly concerned guests.

Cleanliness comes first

It is clear that people prioritize their health during this pandemic and are likely to continue to do so for quite some time. The most important word in the hospitality industry right now is cleanliness. The meaning and connection with the word clean have been changed. What was once taken for granted (clean room) needs to be rethought to fit a completely new definition of cleanliness - virus-free, safe, sanitized.

Technology. Rooms and public spaces should be equipped with disinfectants with appropriate instructions for use if the guest himself is involved in this process.

Communication - how to get the right information. Chat services, whether automatic (chatbots) or not (instant messaging with staff, such as via WhatsApp), enable faster and more accurate transmission of information to guests.

If the hotel has an application, then all protocols and standards for cleaning, surface treatment, disinfection, monitoring the condition of guests and staff should be posted there. Particular attention should be paid in this matter to F&B services. Given the app's readily available information, guests can use it without the need to, for example, call the reception.

Marketing communications. There is nothing worse than making an effort and investing money if the guest does not know what has actually been done. Speak to guests in the language of their new values ​​and showcase your efforts to the market. Be aware that your efforts are not obvious until you tell them about them. Guests need to know how you care for them with an unprecedented effort.

Create unique experiences

Not just guest accommodation, but creating experiences has always been an important part of hospitality. Focusing on the needs and desires of the guest, and adapting the services provided accordingly, is where the difference between you and other hotels can be. Your competitive advantage may not be in your location or unique views from the room (it may turn out that you have nothing to be especially proud of), but in the way you meet guests, think over all their little questions, surprise them with pleasant gifts and tokens of attention.

For example, you can offer guests a menu of pillows and blankets, the color (intensity) of the lighting in the room, the choice of snacks and drinks that will be in his minibar. This can be an individually adapted menu, taking into account the diet or the characteristics of the guest (gluten-free, lactose-free, etc.). It can be local cosmetics based on local herbs, which will pleasantly surprise the guest in the room. Of course, personal gifts and in-room scraps always work great. Guests react especially well to informal decisions, for example, instead of a banal chocolate bar, you can give a tonic or soothing herbal tea, honey or traditional tea as a compliment. Instead of a formal and soulless postcard printed in thousands of copies with common phrases, small handwritten notes with congratulations and wishes to the guest are perfect. There are many options, the main thing is that it is appropriate, with a local peculiarity and as individual as possible. Guests from other regions will gladly take advantage of the compliments and will remember your attention.

In conditions of increased anxiety of guests and limited tourist opportunities, during the period of border closure and deprivation of choice, the guest feels very acutely the lack of personalized service, impressions and joyful events. In addition to making sure that his trip goes smoothly and safely, it is important for us to give him something that will fill him with a lot of pleasant events. It is not enough just to do your job well.

Personalization of communication

Ask guests questions such as what activities they have planned and what they would really like to do before returning home. This information will allow you to receive detailed feedback on their interests and provide personalized suggestions to help make their stay really special thanks to you.

Give guests a choice on the most basic issues, such as how often to change towels and bed linen. A completely unobvious feature of a particular guest may take into account his wishes not for frequent, but, on the contrary, for a more rare change of linen. In practice, there are guests who do not like, as they say, the "crunch" of a fresh bed - this adds discomfort to them and interferes with sleep. If the guest has special wishes, he should also have the opportunity to warn us about this. These nuances add personalization and add value to your services. A sleepless guest who has spent the night in comfort due to the fact that you figured out all his needs is a potential re-sale of your services. Conversely, one annoying little detail like changing bed linen too often can wipe out the efforts of your entire team.

Use your CRM systems as personalizing communications can get complicated very quickly, especially for large properties. What can be kept in the minds of the performers of a family boutique hotel is absolutely impossible to achieve without automation of communications, if you have a thousand guests at the same time. Data management in this case may become impossible without the support of a good CRM system. Losing valuable information can be disastrous for any hotel.

Do you think that personalizing your services at the current time is not the most basic task that can be postponed until better times? First, think about how easy it is to lose customers. 80% of consumers are ready to change their choice if they find services that better meet their needs. The same is true for marketing: 25% of consumers would be more loyal to a hotel that shows understanding of their needs through marketing, avoiding what they perceive as irrelevant offers.

Shift up a gear when it comes to personalization and start asking yourself what you can do to take your service to the next level, otherwise it might be too late!

The time has come to conquer a new audience, which will definitely stay with us after the opening of the borders, if we deserve it. The domestic hospitality industry will not have such a second chance. Here and now, we must prove to every guest, lover of European rest, that "Russian hospitality" is more cordial, warmer and stronger. Yes, we may not be the only ones after the opening of the borders, but we definitely have to stay on the short list of favorite places where guests will return, having all the wealth of choice again.  

A key aspect that unites all the trends that we talked about earlier is attention to detail and special care for the guest. Despite the fact that the coronavirus continues to actively influence us, forcing us to avoid public places, developing agoraphobia even in the most sociable and active, people still eagerly seek new sensations, impressions and rejoice in every manifestation of personal attention, cares for which the industry is so famous hospitality.

As such, personalizing communications and finding opportunities to delight guests in a variety of ways is now more important than ever before. All this sounds loud, sometimes it seems complicated and “not about us”, but in fact, caring consists of simple actions.

The guest does not expect heroic deeds from us. It is often enough to smile at him and be offered a glass of water after a difficult journey.

Nice compliments such as welcome drinks and complimentary check-in snacks can serve as an easily organized way to help showcase our hospitality. It's important to back up your caring marketing slogans with real deeds. To do this, work with CJM and it will become clear to you what services you can use to improve the customer experience of your guests at every stage.

Local unique experiences

85% of travelers find it very important to dive and explore everything “local” and authentic. At the same time, for a tourist, the preparation and study of local objects that must be visited is always a special test. Hundreds of scattered sources of information, a lot of time spent and not always guaranteed a satisfactory result. Therefore, why don't we take on this challenge?

We know better what exactly is worth seeing, where you must definitely visit, what you must definitely participate in, taste delicious, when and on which pink salt lake to meet the sunset, so that your trip becomes truly successful. Give this service and you will gain an additional competitive advantage simply because you did it and others didn’t.

So, take on the role of hosts, taking care not only of the comfort, but also of the guests' leisure. To do this, you will need:

  • Constantly generate new ideas about the best places in the region as a whole and locations nearby. To do this, involve partners in the person of recreation and tourism facilities, guides and photographers who will not only take guests to great places, but also find unique and correct angles for spectacular filming. Post on your website and social media accounts not only popular offers targeted at everyone, but also unique solutions, which is called "for the amateur". Guests have different tastes, and it will be important for someone to be in completely deserted and untouched corners of the region in order to experience it.
  • Compile your own guide to local cuisine places to visit. And there is no need to indicate restaurants of European, Japanese or French cuisine in it - the guest has already tried all this and you will not surprise him. What does he want? And he wants to take with him the gastronomic understanding of the region - its wines, its fresh seafood prepared in a special way, different tastes in everything. He is ready to participate in tastings, master classes and drive 60 minutes to a neighboring village, if it's worth it.
  • At a minimum, make up options for ready-made vacation plans, namely, travel plans recommended by you, including getting to different objects and participating in various events. And as a maximum, make this service your additional product and offer guests individual programs, if they have such a need. A personalized service that includes restaurant reservations, transfers to all sites and individual excursions - this is the very product that does not require you to invest in infrastructure, but at the same time creates an additional sales driver for your main business.

Important! Learning how to work with the guest's leisure program during the low season will remove one of the main barriers to low demand, namely the complete misunderstanding of the tourist what he will do when everything is closed. And thus you will attract guests who are ready to come to rest right now, simply because yours is + 15 ° С, and they have minus 10 ° С.

Winter is different and it all depends on where we spend it. If we make a product for every season and provide a guest's leisure time, we get a steady year-round occupancy rate. It is important to understand this not only for mini-hotels that do not have their own leisure infrastructure, but also for resorts with swimming pools, SPA and medical centers, tennis courts, a network of restaurants on site, animators and cinemas, because it is important for a guest to be able to travel outside of it. " habitat "to see the sights around and take with you special experiences, and not just stories about how well fed five times a day.

Changing vacation booking trends

Since the coronavirus invaded our reality and began to influence the hospitality industry, we have seen significant changes in consumer behavior. Uncertainty is the main driving force behind how guests seek and decide about their travel plans. With travel restrictions, people are looking for safer ways.

One of the main consequences of the uncertainty has become a shorter booking window - we do not know what will happen in 4-5 months and therefore cannot predict our trips as we did before. The guests are not sure whether new restrictions will arise, whether additional quarantine measures will be introduced, so they are planning in a short time, focusing on operational information.

At the same time, as for the permanent audience, which has been resting for many years, for example, in a particular chain of sanatoriums, trusts it and knows for sure that, if necessary, the employees will help to rebook for another period and return the prepayment without further ado - the depth of sales is preserved and guests book comfortably trips in 5-6 months, while having more attractive price offers and a wide choice.

In this regard, in conditions of uncertainty, you should first of all focus your efforts on communications with a regular audience, since it is this group of guests that has already shown loyalty and has fewer barriers in decision-making. It is recommended to create special offers that include additional services that were not previously available to guests.

This can be a free transfer from the airport to your hotel, a bottle of local wine in your room, or an exclusive excursion to a farm closed to the public, by special arrangement for your hotel guests. Anything to the best of your imagination and capabilities! Anything you can give to regular guests who have come to the invitation when you need it. With special offers for regular guests, the hotelier can adjust the occupancy of certain periods. Of course, without giving up new guests at the same time, because right now there is an excellent opportunity to expand the audience.

The transition of a business to a remote location and to home-office mode will affect the sales of vouchers

Considering the development of a new format for remote operation of offices and the focus of companies on ensuring the safety of their employees, the segment of corporate travel could not but suffer. The volume of business travel, business trips, forums and everything that created the demand for business hotels has certainly decreased. Given the volatility of the situation and the uncertainty of the time frame of this period, it is important to be adaptable for those who previously specialized in the business audience.

The current conditions dictate the requirements for the transformation of concepts, services and approaches to a new target audience. The new audience can include both traditional tourists and a business audience in a modified format. Formulate a proposal for those who work remotely.

For example, your address to them may sound something like this: “If you do not appear in the office for months and work from home, then why don’t you come to us? We still have + 15 ° С, excellent wine and seafood. Combine work, vacation with your family and enjoy the sea. "

If your hotel has the necessary infrastructure with a comfortable working environment in the rooms, you can become a new place of attraction for those who work remotely and have no particular restrictions on localization. 

For many, adaptation to new conditions will become a big task, which will ultimately bring the business to a new level of service and quality of services in general. For some, this is an additional opportunity to attract new audience segments that were previously not available. Whatever changes you plan, and whatever new audience you are targeting, make sure you fully understand the basics of the segment before making any implementations. In particular, what are their needs and desires, and, perhaps more importantly, how you can most effectively satisfy those desires. Perhaps the approaches you are used to using with a different audience may not work right now. I hope you are now not only up to date with the latest trends in hospitality, but also inspired by new ideas. Whether it is a small investment or a large investment, adapting to trends remains the most important these days. And as many of the examples and solutions I've provided demonstrate, adaptation does not necessarily require significant resources. Most of what was said above is within the power of everyone.

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