How Can the Hospitality Industry Return to Work Safely?
On June 23rd the Prime Minister announced that the public would be able to look forward to trips around the country. We are now past the reopening date of July 4th for self-contained accommodation (B&Bs, campsites and hotels). Excited after isolation, the public can now have staycations in the UK or even travel abroad.
UK residents can now travel to some countries where the pandemic has been taken under control. Although the conditions are still not favourable, as most countries are still trying to contain local outbreaks. In many European countries, travellers will still be subject to COVID-19 testing. Furthermore, in some places, such as Singapore and South Korea, tourists are still subject to isolation of up to two weeks upon arrival.
Even despite all the restrictions that still exist in many places, the UK public is excited to finally book holidays, allowing hospitality industry to make a slow return. How can the hospitality industry change to keep up with this challenging times?
Look after your prices
Some businesses within the hospitality industry have faced criticism for lowering their prices. While it may seem like a good way to get new customers, lowering rates to attract customers may damage brand reputation, since during the times of the pandemic it puts the employees at an increased risk.
Employees need to be paid and, preferably, kept in employment post-pandemic, hence, it does not feel like the right time to reduce the income.
Everyone is keen to get business going again and now is the time to explore where additional income could come from.
For a lot of businesses digital marketing is the answer. If in the past your website and online presence has not been a priority, now is the time to switch things up.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of digital marketing has become especially obvious. For most businesses finding customers online was the only way to continue operating. Now that most businesses can resume operating face-to-face, it is important not to forget the value of an effective marketing campaign and a functioning website.
Look into updating your site, optimising your web loading speed, invest into a brand-new ad campaign and, almost certainly, the efforts will pay off and bring you increased bookings.
Incentives offer a compromise for both businesses and travellers. With incredible deals and holiday-packages on the table, hotels have seen a massive increase in bookings for 2021 and even further down the line as people take post-pandemic holiday breaks.
However, local lockdowns are still a very real possibility in the future, so flexible payment and cancellation incentives might be exactly what customers want to see. Additionally, consider offering flexible bookings, which will enable customers to easily re-book the travelling dates in the likely scenario of last-minute changes. Flexible cancellation and re-booking incentives are likely to convince even most cautious travellers to take the risk of booking a holiday during these uncertain times.
Furthermore, now that two families can travel together and school holidays are coming up, hotels can offer discount codes for multiple bookings. Special packages for double family bookings are attractive too. Such group discounts will allow you to get those rooms booked at a greater pace.
When answering customer enquiries about your latest deals, offer them an even greater discount if they are prepared to pay over the phone there and then, this will increase your business cash-flow, while also leaving customers feeling happy with the service. At the end of the day, great customer service does wonders for any business.
Consider your payment options
Business owners now have a legal responsibility to minimise the risks of COVID-19 transmission to protect customers and employees. One universal concern for businesses operating face-to-face is the payment solutions in place. Cash and coins are used by multiple people and, therefore, are both likely to facilitate transmission, making employees and customers rightfully cautious. Changing the way you are handling payments is one of the easiest ways to mitigate risk.
Cashless payments are easier and more popular than ever, especially when you consider the social distancing measures in place. Now is the best time to invest into a new payment solution, such as a contactless card machine or a card reader. For instance, consider merchant service provider UTP Group, who provide a range of payment solutions ranging from card machines to virtual terminals for online stores. They also offer an option to apply online for any of their products, eliminating the need for unnecessary sales rep meetings.
It’s time to work together
Hospitality businesses can team up with pubs, restaurants, or bars to offer discounted meals or drinks to aid the recovery of the local economy.
With hotels and B&Bs having seen the substantial impact of quarantine, a lot is dependent on the operational success during remaining summer months. A tough start to the year does not always entail a tough end.
While the hospitality industry is still only at the beginning of the recovery road, the future is promising. The sales are picking up with all the early booking with the customers excited to have a holiday to look forward to. Invest into new digital campaigns, make sure that your website is up and running and offer incentives to ensure that your business is back to pre-pandemic sales levels sooner rather than later.