In the last few days I have been busy trying to understand better the current situation, draw parallels with historical events that shook the world in a similar way, and wreck my brain with possible outcomes.
The crude reality is that there is very little we can do, simple because there is very little we can control. Hoteliers have had to shut down their operations with practically no outlook or indication on when airports will open again. Even when airports re-open, do we really know how the customer will behave? How long will it take for the fear to subdue? Will there be enough money for anyone to spend on travel? Will the current airlines still be there servicing our airports?
Whoever claims to know what to do next in these unprecedented circumstances is probably trying to pull a fast one. Be careful.
So here is what I know. It is based on what I can control, and probably you can control it as well. This is what I am focusing on…
Guests are as confused as all of us. They had their break planned, their weddings to attend, their anniversaries to celebrate but it all went haywire. Try not to ignore communication with your potential guests as your reaction will probably reflect in whether these guests rebook in the future or not.
REVIEW YOUR WEBSITE
Now there is no excuse not maximising your online presence. Go through your website with a critical approach and fix/rebuilt it. You might soon need those direct bookings (and higher revenue) more than ever.
CHECK YOUR CANCELLATION POLICY
Check all your fine print, on your website and on your OTAs. Make sure you have a tight policy and if you are not allowed to change it, at least make sure you understand it very well. Your pricing should reflect the “risk” attributed to each cancellation policy.
The hardest thing to do at this stage is to sell! However, there are guests out there who, like us, are eager to restart living their lives and planning a trip helps them cope with uncertainty. Launch some offers for Summer and Autumn and offer a free change-of-dates should the situation persist.
RESEARCH NEW MARKETS
With OTA giants such as booking.com and expedia, it is very easy to fall in a cul-de-sac and let them do the “hard” work. Now it is the time to reduce our dependency on the big OTAs and perhaps explore new markets, through new channels and new approaches.