Life after Covid-19: 9 tips on how to emerge stronger than ever from the corona crisis
A year of being firmly in the hand of the corona crisis has passed. We’ve gone through several lockdowns and social distancing is part of our day-to-day business. A collection of terms related to the corona crisis are constantly looming over our heads. I think not a day has gone by without social media being plastered with posts about short-time work, curfews, homeschooling and economic losses. These losses can be perceived across all industries. However, one sector has been hit at its core from the lockdowns: the hospitality industry.
But slowly after months of lockdown, the restrictions imposed with it are being lifted in small steps. Children are returning back to school but have to comply with certain regulations, hairdressers and garden centers have opened again. Shops are waiting and hoping to follow suit. A reopening for hospitality seems to have returned within easy reach in April – at least in the UK. Gastronomy and hotels in Germany, however, are still waiting for a clear perspective to reopen.
We are given an inkling of what it might be like to return to our lives before the corona crisis. And one thing’s for sure, there’s an unabated desire to travel! The closer the lifting of the restrictions is getting, the more this desire will be set free. Everybody will want to emerge from the crisis stronger and get their helping from the enormous cake. In this article, you will find 9 tips on how to set the course for a successful reopening.
1. Change management in times of crisis
The current situation is daunting, and understandably so. Hotels are battling soaring costs while being faced with empty beds and thus no income at the same time. However, now is the time to analyse existing processes and identify new potential. Tourismuszukunft has developed a useful guide “Corona Roadmap” for the industry to identify new tasks and alternative paths.
2. Communication is key
Reaching out to your guests and keeping them informed about current or upcoming bookings in these uncertain times is essential. Clear communication can help you minimise losses. Therefore, try to postpone current bookings or turn cancellations into rebookings so that guests may return once the corona crisis is over.
3. Be flexible
Your guests are already going through a stressful phase due to the current situation. They will be worrying about their bookings and finances. Take away some of that stress by offering an easy way to cancel their bookings. If you flexibly adapt to their needs, it will leave a positive impression and they are likely to book with you again. Communicate this openly, for example with a section on free cancellations on your website.
4. Be present and nurture desire
- Use the break inflicted by the coronavirus to revise your website and your social media activities and stay in touch with your target group. Are the texts and images on your website up to date? It could be a good move to have your website translated into other languages. This would allow you to engage with a much larger target group and to stay independent of the domestic market.
- Create interoperable content for customer care and customer loyalty. By having translated your emails and newsletters for email marketing campaigns or your social media content, you give assurance and spread a positive mood. Especially on social media channels, travel publications serve as a source of inspiration and nurture desire. It’s not only about vivid pictures but also about the accompanying texts. Write engaging texts to reach out to a much larger, international audience. Tell them that you miss your guests and that you’re looking forward to welcoming them when you reopen again after the coronavirus.
- Break new grounds in communication and create video content. Videos get the most attention on social media and are a superb way to authentically capture the atmosphere for your audience. You can even go that extra mile and have your videos transcribed or subtitled into other languages.
- Speaking of languages: why not have your marketing material such as travel guides, menus, spa treatments, or even signs translated into different languages. This is a great way to show your guests that you care and that you want to make their stay as pleasant as possible.
- You don’t know what to do with all those vacancies? Make use of them: express your gratitude and thank your local corona heroes by offering them a free overnight stay. They deserve it. #hotelsforheroes
5. Focus on your loyalty programme:
Send a newsletter to your loyal customers, offer them rewards, or reduce the number of nights needed for a free stay. That way, your loyal guests will stay in touch with you.
6. Consider new paths and themes
- Identifying new topics to market is a great way to address whole new customer segments. These could be, for instance, yoga retreats, reading tours, hiking, or cycling tours. You can put attractive packages with additional services together.
- Set up a voucher system with which future bookings can be purchased by vouchers. In this way, additional sales can be generated.
- Traveling abroad will be ruled out by many. But since the majority still want to travel, people will look for domestic alternatives and have a staycation. So increase your local presence to attract local customers.
7. Invest in new technologies and services
Make use of the current pause in operations by investing in your services and technology so that you are ready for the upswing when it does arrive. Use this time to understand what your technology can do for your business. While occupancy will be low at the beginning due to reopening restrictions and reduced travel, you have the unique opportunity to make the stay of your guest much more personal. You can make their stay a one of a kind experience with exclusive dinners or special services. That will stick in their memory and they will return as loyal customers.
9. Learn from the crisis
The corona crisis and its devastating consequences came entirely out of the blue. Although there have been other pandemics before, think of SARS in 2002, H1N1 in 2009 and MERS in 2012, none has had such a limiting effect on our lives as the current corona pandemic.
As experts expect a second wave after the restrictions have been slightly lifted, precautions can be taken in order to be prepared when it hits again. It’s therefore advisable to commit yourself and your staff to procedures and tightened hygiene measures for surfaces such as bathrooms, door handles/knobs, kitchen and dining areas introduced during the first wave, and train staff accordingly.
Invest in the future and look ahead even in times of crisis
For your continued success, it is important not to surrender yourself to the current standstill, but to see the crisis as an opportunity. A constructive SWOT analysis of your strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities and threats will reveal potential and paths which you had not considered before. The key to success is an open mind to novelty and the flexibility to accept and adapt to the changed conditions. Investing in yourself, in marketing and in customer loyalty will lead to a fruitful restart in the long term, even if it does not seem feasible at present. Stay positive, stay safe, save lives.