We have been speaking to several customers and below are some ideas that VRMs and owners can incorporate in their strategy to get more bookings during this time!
- Widen your distribution strategy & look for booking platforms (websites) that can generate bookings for you
Due to Covid-19, there have been changes in booking patterns (see trends by country) and guests are looking at some non-traditional OTAs to book for their stays. One such change is mid-term bookings. Look for booking platforms in your region that guests use for mid-term bookings and corporate stays.
Airbnb has launched #FrontlineStays program, which allows hosts to open their homes to those on the front lines of the
COVID-19 pandemic. There are 100K+ listings listed on this worldwide. Learn more about how you can participate & allow medical staff to benefit from the accommodation.
Another example is an initiative by Smartbnb – Footshake. Footshake allows companies to book your space for their remote workers to work in a safe & comfortable environment. There are already 10K+ listings on the platform.
While the above are examples – several similar booking platforms would be local to your area. Discover them and add your listings.
- Contact companies that might need accommodations or space at this time
Several companies and organizations are looking for accommodation and space right now. Contact companies close to your listings. Embassies & Airports are examples where due to travel bans some people are locked away from their homes.
Nearby hospitals & health centers might be looking for alternative accommodation too. Your local & regional health agency might need space for quarantine.
Contact them and let them know you have availability.
- Change & adapt the content of your listing to be more amenable to times at hand
Guests who are looking for accommodation at this time are particularly concerned with hygiene and cleanliness. You can adapt your listing’s titles & descriptions to show & share more about your policies and processes.
Share the actions & methods that you have taken to make your space Covid-19 ready. Is your location serviceable by meal delivery platforms? Share! Hospital nearby? Share!
This is not the time to hold back on what your place has to offer, but differentiate and adapt to the audience.
- Offer amenities required for quarantine & cleanliness
You have provided your guests with Kitchenware, Towels, Toiletries, etc in the past, and you know they love them! They book your listings for amenities, and they write about them in your reviews.
Why not offer amenities suitable for Covid? Some ideas for a care package: Masks, Sanitizers, Ready to eat meals, Grocery, Wipes, and yes extra toilet papers!
Show them you care! Add Photos & text for the same!
- Use the time to optimize for Billboard Effect
The Billboard Effect, in the hospitality industry, is when potential guests see your property on an online travel agency (OTA), but then try to book directly through your website. There are many reasons for this but most importantly to avoid paying for OTA fees.
The simple way to get started on this is to name your properties in your PMS and on OTAs with a unique name. So that when the guest wants to search for your property in Google after looking at it on an OTA – your property appears. You should choose something based on your Company Name + Property Name.
For the property name, name each of your properties with an original & unique name.
For example, the company StayInProvence, based in Aix en Provence, has chosen for each of its properties, a unique name for their property by translating the name into Provençal.
“StayInProvence – Villa Loujasso” “StayInProvence – Villa Gaujosa” etc.
Travelers can discover the properties on the OTAs & then type these names in Google and find the direct site. And, then to book directly.
- Collaborate with property managers & hosts around you
This is the time for solidarity, collaboration and community support. Where possible, contact other property managers & hosts in your city to regroup and to help each other. Several synergies exist:
- Pooling your technical resources to benefit at this time
- Pooling your knowledge & ideas to get more bookings
- Working together to get support and in front of your regional agencies
- Pre-sell your upcoming weekends and short stays
This is not for everyone, but depending on the location of your listings, & your strategy – you could pre-sell stays, with no fixed date, at a reduced price or with services offered.
Explain to guests that if they buy these stays now, they support you financially and that they will be able to benefit from their credit once the epidemic has passed.
Sending an email to your previous guests particularly the ones who were from drive by destinations might be helpful.
- Keep in touch with your guests
Those who had to cancel their reservation, postpone it, those who are booked for future or past travelers.
It’s extremely important to stay in touch with them to update them about your business, how you are navigating the crisis, changes you are making – perhaps via a newsletter or your social media.
This is particularly important for the guests who have booked for the future and not yet canceled. They need to be aware of the steps you are taking to make sure their stays will be pleasant.
It is a time when people get closer and everyone is put back on an equal footing. Take the opportunity to reveal a little more about you and your business, what makes you different?
In summary, there are several ideas that you can deploy to still get some bookings. What other ideas have you tried that have worked successfully?