Industry Update
Opinion Article30 July 2020

Reassure Guests & Increase Bookings with a Solid Stand on COVID19

Use your website to communicate your health and safety precautions, available amenities, timely promotions, and flexible cancellations.

By Kristen Sullivan, Account Manager at Vizergy and Gretchen Harris, Sr. Account Executive

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Have no doubt - guests are using a different set of criteria these days to decide where they stay when traveling. With COVID 19 still top of mind, they need to be assured of your hotel's cleanliness and social distancing policy. But travelers also want to know which hotel amenities remain available, your cancellation/postponement policy (a potential deal-breaker in uncertain times) and special incentives relevant to the pandemic.

The good news is you can easily communicate all these things early, often, and clearly on your existing website. Here we offer details for a COVID 19 landing page, how to use pop-ups and banners effectively, and ideas to increase bookings through targeted specials.

1. COVID-19 Landing Page

A COVID-19 landing page is as vital to your website as an accessibility page. Simply put, your website needs to have one. It's necessary to go into further detail on the housekeeping arrangements and social distancing approach in your hotel facilities, including any bars and restaurants. Communicate any precautionary measures being taken at the property to ensure health and hygiene of guests and staff. Content should be clear and concise; writing in FAQ format is often more effective for search engine optimization and guests reading on mobile devices. Offer a phone number for specific questions.

A COVID-19 landing page is also the best place to include a statement from the brand or General Manager. If the hotel is being used to house emergency workers it is a good idea to clearly communicate how that is being handled (separate floors, limited contact with staff, etc.) and any community outreach the hotel team is doing like serving to-go meals to emergency workers, etc.

Additional information to consider including:

  • - hotel amenities or facilities temporarily closed or currently not being offered
  • - alterations to the property to ensure safety (i.e. plastic barriers at the front desk, keyless entry on guest room doors, etc.)
  • - changes to extra fees that typically cover unavailable amenities (i.e. resort fees)
  • - extra implementations to ensure health and safety such as hand-sanitizing stations throughout the hotel

Examples of hotels who currently have COVID-19 landing pages can be seen here and here.

2. COVID-19 Pop Up or Banner

Popups or banner messages are a great way to provide important information to guests the moment they arrive on your website. You can draw attention to the main facts guests are likely to be researching when choosing a hotel, such as:

  • - important information pertaining to COVID-19 (cleanliness, social distancing, etc.)
  • - changes in hours of operation or available services
  • - targeted messaging to returning visitors and/or new guests
  • - special offers and promotions encouraging reservations, including cancellation policies

A popup is a sure-fire way to capture attention and direct visitors to your COVID-19 landing page for more information. You may also consider adding a direct link within your main navigation menu, a CTA on your homepage, or even a banner at the top or bottom of each page. The point is to make it easy for guests to find the information they're likely to be looking for. Here is an example of a hotel that utilizes several of these options on their website to direct users to their COVID-19 landing page.

Putting the most important information at the outset of a guest's interaction with your website also increases the chances of conversion and reduces the likelihood of reservation abandonment.

3. COVID-19 Website Promotions to Increase Direct Bookings

Once you've covered the priority items above, focus on how you can offer specials and promotions that drive conversions.

Drive Market- Have you considered a locals or drive market campaign to target a replacement for international guests that are not likely to arrive this summer? In the first few months of post-lockdown, we've seen many data points from our hotel clients pointing towards an increase in reservations from locals and drive markets compared to previous years. The American Hotel and Lodging Association commissioned a survey by Morning consult found 44% of Americans have plans to travel, the majority of which (75%) will travel by car. Some hotels in certain markets are even outperforming bookings compared to last year due to the strength of this market.

WFH: Work from Home Promotion- After several months of working from home, an alternative to the home office is likely to be very appealing. Hotels can offer day rates for meeting rooms or spaces that can be used as an alternative to a home office. Hotels can include perks like complimentary coffee and high-speed internet or discounted or free amenity services. Note: outline the hotel's approach to social distancing in meeting rooms and communal areas to emphasize safety and cleanliness.

Gift Certificates - Strongly consider offering gift certificates on your website. These should be redeemable for both room stays and visits to your restaurants and bars. Include a complimentary gift certificate add-on for direct bookings that can be spent on property. Send loyal guests an email offering these gift certificates as a great way to drive revenue up front that is redeemable at a later date.

First Responder Promotion - Provide special discounts for first responders/hospital employees - a place where they can go to recharge while keeping their loved ones at home safe and healthy.

Extended Stay Promotion - It's likely that room demand will be depressed for the remainder of the year in most, if not all, markets. As such, consider what promotions are likely to keep guests staying longer with discounts offered for longer stays.

The goal is to keep guests up to date on the latest hotel policies regarding COVID-19. Informing them of your steps to ensure their health and safety will likely be the determining factor when it comes to converting website traffic into reservations.

For more tips on building a website content strategy centered on COVID-19 recovery, contact Vizergy at [email protected]

Kristen Sullivan

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Gretchen Harris

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About Vizergy® Digital Marketing

Vizergy serves the world's hospitality industry with conversion optimized website design and fiercely competitive tools to maximize revenue. Our formula for success includes cutting-edge technologies, proven digital marketing programs and the best professionals in the industry. At Vizergy, hospitality marketing is not only our mission, it's our sole focus.

For more than 20 years, Vizergy has relentlessly developed and deployed the best marketing technologies and talent to serve thousands of hospitality clients with excellence. The company deploys complete travel life-cycle marketing solutions from responsive website design and development, to proven award-winning digital marketing programs, reservation solutions, media planning and deployment. Vizergy's platform has long been touted as the #1 digital marketing system for hospitality clients, easy to deploy, turnkey and SMART, empowering clients to win in today's complex and competitive hospitality industry.

For more information, please visit www.vizergy.com.

Contact: Ryan Ridge | Vizergy | +1.904.389.1130 | [email protected]

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