The 3 Lines of Business That’ll Bounce Back First Post-COVID-19
- Posted by Griffin Sandberg
- On April 27, 2020
The post-COVID-19 bounce back is coming. Hotels and resorts around the world are counting on it. Though we can’t know exactly when that bounce back will begin or how long it will last, we can predict how it will begin: with travelers’ perception of safety and cleanliness of certain aspects of your business coupled with growing levels of interest in a safe change of scenery.
That safe change of scenery likely won’t involve a flight anytime soon, so you can count on this being the year of the road trip. And it likely won’t involve group travel either, as we expect leisure travel to surge first. But what you might not expect is that it may not involve room nights either, at least not at first.
Several of your other lines of business might carry the torch for your hotel or resort’s recovery within your local markets.
Make the most of your drive markets and their increased interest in staycations by emphasizing the following three lines of business, plus tips for spinning ancillary revenue into bookings.
Food & Beverage
On Independent Lodging Congress’s Instagram Live last week, Edition Hotels’ VP of Brand Experience Ben Pundole mentioned that the food and beverage (F&B) business for one of their mainland China properties was thriving. The US has been about 10 weeks behind China in COVID-19 responses. So while we know it will take a while to get back to pre-COVID foot traffic, Pundole’s observation is a promising forecast for properties in the U.S.
In the meantime, there are many measures teams can take to keep people comfortable going out to eat. While the margins may be a bit thin on the restaurant side, consider how you can take advantage of those patroning your restaurant(s) and use the growing interest in your F&B brand to drive more profitable business.
Tips to Harness Your Community’s Interest in F&B
- Will you take walk-ins? All restaurants will need a reservation system if they haven’t incorporated one by now. Have this in place for re-opening, as a reservations system will allow you to manage your restaurant’s capacity and keep it at levels safe for social distancing.
- Pair your F&B with another open line of business, like golf. You could develop a Tee & Eat package to spread the wealth of guest interest across your lines of business. F&B patrons may become golf patrons and vice versa.
- Create a smooth and effortless curbside pick-up service. The easier you can make patronage for your community, the more likely they’ll be to continue to frequent your F&B outlets.
- Be social. Push revenue-driving messaging by offering special discounts or offers to your social media followers or email lists. Turn the audiences you already have into advocates so they feel inclined to spread the word.
This activity has seemingly snuck through most social distancing restrictions. As of April 21, 47% of the nation’s 15,000+ courses are open, and more than 12 states have either liberalized or completely lifted golf course closures. Lots of other states are talking about following suit and lifting these bans in the very near future (NYC Metro being a big one). Beyond this – let’s be honest – we’ve all seen videos of friends out on the course throughout this entire epidemic.
At first glance, golf seems safe enough (lots of space in between people), but if Cobblestone Golf Course’s Instagram post engagement is any tell – people will be looking out for their own and others’ safety on the course. Something as small as this jerry-rigged tech can go a long way when it comes to guest perception and buy-in. With golf on the rise, consider spinning tee times into golf getaways.
Tips to Harness Your Community’s Interest in Golf
- Package together a round of golf with a future staycation – no cancelation fees. Travelers might feel reassured to stay at your hotel or resort once they’ve had a safe and rewarding day on the golf course.
- Run driving range goals (hit ____ yard drive for future discounted room night) to gameify your community’s return to your hotel. This might also encourage golfers to spread the word to non-golfers, growing the audience for this line of business.
- Free round of golf when booking direct for future stays. Since golf can easily be made social distancing safe, this might be an appealing value-add to a staycation at your property.
Your spa may feel like a no-go zone. Not many people are keen to have someone lay hands on them, or share a hot tub, even in a cleanly and accredited spa environment. Though spa revenue may feel like a long shot, let’s remember that spas are also associated with some very safe verbiage—refreshing, restorative, relaxing—that will resonate with your community now more than ever.
If you’re planning a spa reopening, be very methodical when putting a messaging strategy together here. Run a sentiment analysis from your social media channels on what type of positive verbiage guests were using about your Spa pre-covid, and use it in your copy to remind people of the positive experiences that haven’t disappeared (and are still very available at your property). But remember, one must take into account what positive means now in comparison to pre-Covid (ex; a “popular” spa might have been verbiage to stress before, but it might be associated with “crowded” these days, giving it a negative connotation).
Tips to Harness Your Community’s Interest in the Spa
- Updated and clearly documented cleanliness procedures covering all touchpoints of a spa experience.
- Publish on your website, distribute across social media, and create print-outs that you can place at high-touch locations on the premises.
- Create punch cards to entice guests to come back. After they’ve been in once, they may feel more comfortable coming back.
- Establish a referral program for spa customers to receive credits for every appointment they referred to your spa.
- Offer discounted room rates with the purchase of a certain spa package.
Note: People may be wary of heading to the spa, even after social distancing restrictions are lifted. Make sure your property is not only doing all they can to adhere to new and improved (very strict) cleanliness guidelines but that your teams are sharing these stories at every turn to give your guests the comfort they need to book in the first place.
Though it’s tempting to take advantage of any business available, remember that COVID-19 is uncharted territory. Be careful not to fall back into your old marketing strategies and messaging pillars, as you have to make sure that you’re attracting the right type of business with long term goals in mind.
It might be nice to see a crowded bar or golf course come the first weekend restrictions are lifted, but let’s remember that we still lack a Covid-19 vaccine so crowded spaces may not be safe. Garner as much hype around your ancillary business as possible, but do so responsibly. Perception is everything. Take steps to ensure the perception surrounding your brand is one of support and enthusiasm, rather than fear or resentment as your community’s next ground zero.
Scary realities aside, we recommend that your property go out and have fun while you find ways to immerse your guests back into your brand’s experience. Some of these ancillary lines of business, though hit the hardest, will be back before we know it. Be sure you’re ready to respond and take advantage of opportunities where they arise and set yourself up to remain in the game for the long haul.
Feel free to comment and let us know how your property is addressing these opportunities. We’d love to hear from you!
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