The speed at which coronavirus has taken grip across the world is nothing but shocking and it has been impossible for parts of the hospitality industry to stay ahead of the curve.
UK hotel clients are experiencing utterly depressing slumps in leisure bookings, steep declines in spa breaks whilst corporate events have disappeared from calendar. All of a sudden, remote destinations and private self-catering accommodation, well-used angles in the travel press, are more nuanced now.
During these wild times, clarity is so important to keep stakeholders feeling safe and informed. Swift and transparent responses to the rapid changes in circumstances demonstrate that you are dealing with the situation, and offer reassurance for employees and guests.
Empathising with guests, rather than selling to them right now, is going to win more business in the long run. Revised cancellation policies and issuing credit notes or gift cards will provide flexibility for guests and help stem loss of revenue.
Communicate internally with staff to keep them informed and be sensitive to their wellbeing and future happiness. Internal loyalty and belief in a brand from within will help build an even stronger brand for the future.
Staying connected with the local community via social media, newsletters and media is a positive step. Without grass roots level activity at the best of times, a hotel can struggle to build a profile on a national scale. At a time like this, community support will enhance relationships and generate goodwill.
Be adaptable. Revisit the PR comms plan and revise. Plan stories that, in the current daily changing context, highlight the values of the business and its people. Listen to what journalists are specifically looking for over the coming weeks. Seaside and countryside escapes, suites without single supplements, family travel and places to reconnect are angles that could work well for the travel press.
Planning for the long term is something that independent hotel owners cannot even think about today or tomorrow. However, in our role as a consultancy we can continue to uphold individual clients’ brand values through flexible and sensitive communications strategies for internal as well as external audiences that will create a loyal following on the other side.