3 Strategies for Hospitality Crisis Communications
- Posted by Valerie Erwin
- On April 20, 2020
As hoteliers, we’re facing a time where much of our guest-facing communication is limited, paused, or turned off completely. But something that remains is the need for strategy, which is ever-present, but perhaps now more than ever.
Google Dictionary defines a marketing strategy as “a plan of action designed to promote and sell a product or service.” In other words, your strategy is an overarching statement that describes how you are going to showcase your hotel or resort to prospective guests. But nailing down the “how” can be tough, especially amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
Due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, what to do to promote your business feels like a moving target. Moreover, trying to stay on top of industry recommendations, trends, and inspiration among so many sources of content can be a daunting task, especially as you also try to identify an approach that is a good fit for your brand.
To help with this, we’ve aggregated three strategy ideas (with examples!) for hospitality crisis communication that you can easily adapt to your hotel or resort.
Highlight Responsible Hygienic Practices
These days, a top concern for all prospective guests is health & safety. Regardless of whether your hotel is still open or temporarily closed, it’s critical that you speak to guest concerns surrounding cleanliness. We’re seeing a trend of hotels not only clearly stating what they’re doing to address guest concerns about health and safety, but also making this content extremely visible and accessible. Park Hotel does a great job of this, dedicating the first slot on their website’s primary navigation to addressing everything they’re doing in regard to precautionary measures:
For added visibility, they also instituted a popover message throughout the website that links back to the “Precautionary Measures” page for added visibility.
The strategy here is to showcase this content as prominently as possible to put prospective guests at ease. Incorporating these messages at multiple brand touchpoints will show your guests that you not only hear their concerns, but you’re also taking steps to address them.
Prioritize Guest Concerns
In all relevant brand communications, it should be clear that guests are your first priority. Acknowledging guest concerns for safety and health is a great starting point—and a great messaging strategy. A secondary trend we are seeing emerge is that guests are comforted by flexible cancellation policies. The following survey from HSMAI showcases what would motivate travelers to actually book that trip. Flexible cancellation policies topped the list, followed by discounts.
If your property or properties are extending flexible cancellation policies, or have taken steps to make it easier for guests to cancel or reschedule a stay, making that information prominent is a powerful strategy due to the uncertainty and ever-changing nature of our COVID-19 reality. Hyatt features its commitment to this on their website in a prominent way.
As you are preparing marketing materials, make sure this information is present on all your channels and supported on your website.
Provide Value & Meaning
The COVID-19 crisis differs from other past crises in the way that it has a global impact, and every single person has been affected in one way or another. So, remember not just to prioritize and answer needs, but give back in a genuine way. We’re seeing new strategies emerge that emphasize the human connection within brand communications—a reminder that hotels genuinely care about the well-being of their guests. Person to person, what can the team behind your brand give prospective guests on a meaningful level? Can you share ideas from your spa for an at-home spa treatment that allows someone to relax despite their circumstances?
Among other things, La Cantera Resort’s “Stay Connected” content provides users with weekly 10-minute yoga flows with @theashtangaagent plus at-home spa tips and more.
Can you inspire guests’ future adventures or prompt them to look back on fond memories they created traveling to your property or destination? Whatever it is, the way you make them feel during a crisis has a longer-lasting impact than almost anything else we can do or give.
How your brand responds to guest needs in the midst of any crisis will be remembered once we’re in a post-pandemic landscape. Rebuild and document a strategy that serves guests well and serves them first, and make sure that information is easily accessible. Continue to show you genuinely care about the well-being of your guests and hospitality family.
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