Wednesday, 06 May 2020

Covid-19 Hotel Online Recovery Plan


Covid-19 has disrupted the daily lives of individuals, and has majorly impacted the dealings of businesses worldwide, thus affecting the economy and the future of said businesses. Hotels and other businesses in the tourism industry, in particular, have felt the impact of this global pandemic as countries close their borders, and planes remain grounded.

Aró are aware of the impact this pandemic has on our clients, and we have developed a recovery plan, with a flexible payment scheme to ensure our clients recuperate in as timely a fashion as possible.

In this blog we aim to deal with 3 key questions:

How has the crisis impacted on us?
How are we tackling the crisis for our clients?
How can we support you?

HOW HAS THE CRISIS IMPACTED

How has the crisis impacted us?

The impact Covid-19 had on our business, as well the business of our clients initially came as a shock. We have never faced a threat quite like a global pandemic, and in the earliest days of lockdown we struggled to see a solution. Over the weeks, however, our staff have come together and produced a recovery plan that forecasts both positive and realistic effects for us and our clients.

In our company, Independent luxury hotels make up over 75% of our clients, meaning your success is our success. The first weeks of isolation have proven difficult, however throughout this period, one thing struck us very deeply: the market will recover, even if it takes time, and when it does, our clients will need us more than they ever did before. Travel industry experts have been predicting that demand upon recovery will be higher for travel. Travelers will be desperate to travel again and boost their morale by booking new trips or adjusting trips that were cancelled. Naturally, this also depends on how the economy rebounds, and when laid-off employees are rehired but certainly a desire to travel will be on the rise and competition will be tough.

How we are tackling the crisis for our clients?

The key question we had to answer was how could we construct an affordable Recovery Plan for our clients, that we can deliver, that will help you maximise your recovery. We have successfully put together a stringent plan during the lockdown and the key areas we have worked on are:
  1. Ensuring we have the resources to financially support the Recovery Plan over the next 6 months.
  2. Position a very compelling proposal to our Priority clients. This was achieved by putting in place a detailed proposal, with contributions from all the teams in Aró. The plan contained over 40 ideas, across our 4 Pillars, each of which should help our clients’ digital strategy. We made the plan affordable, with a flexible payment plan and we had the plan ready from March 23rd. This resonated very well with our clients and over 60% of our Priority clients signed up to the plan within 2 weeks of its launch.The 4 Pillars included:
    1. Customer Acquisition – This area focuses on the work required ensure our clients reach their target market. This is typically measured by the increase in sessions (or users) that this activity generates. We put forward ideas that included FAQ Structured Data (see example below), running User Generated Content (UGC) campaigns, Content Delivery Network (CDN), Voice Search, Video Marketing, and Breadcrumb Structured Data in addition to 17 other ideas. Customer Acquisition
    2. Customer Engagement – This area focuses on improving the way we design the visitors' website experience, maximising their engagement, as they browse our clients' websites. The more they engage, the more likely they are to book with our clients. The Recovery Plan enabled us to expand the Research and Development we had been implementing and testing previously to many more clients. This will greatly accelerate the research phase and give faster results to our clients. We put forward 12 ideas including the example below.Customer Engagement
    3. Customer Conversion – involves improving the user experience as they move through the booking process. Customer Conversion
    4. Customer Loyalty – This is a new pillar for Aró and involves connecting with our online visitor to prompt them to join our clients' loyalty program and hopefully become a more regular ‘Book Direct’ customer. There are 3 main items in this area, including the development of our initial online Loyalty program, which will be introduced to the customer at their initial booking stage.
  3. Starting the plan early – we were confident early in the process that our clients would respond well, and we started working on co-ordinating the plan across the 3 teams during the 4th week of March. We are now into the last week of April and there is great momentum across all areas of the plan, which gives us great confidence that it will be a great success for our clients.

How can we support you?

With the above plan in place and in motion with our existing clients, we are now ready to roll out our Recovery Services to new clients. Post lockdown, the initial pool of travellers will be concentrated, and one of the best ways to get exposure to these travellers is through an improved digital strategy that will give your hotel visibility. As aforementioned, our strengths lie in our pillars which we have worked with on our priority clients for years. The stakes are too high not to address digital marketing related issues that you may have overlooked at the beginning of this year.

This is an ideal time to make your digital marketing strategy a key pillar of your overall marketing and outreach plan, including a stronger position on search engines, a design that will engage the customer for more sales, and more direct loyalty.

Aró have years of experience in digital strategy, and we can direct you in what you should be seeking for a long term strategy and avoiding detrimental mistakes such as:

  • Not keeping on top of your website and booking engine health causing hotels to lose positions built up over years.
  • Neglecting your SEO / PPC strategy which could make you lose valuable positions over this period
  • Neglecting the quality of the booking journey and booking engine you are currently using
  • Not improving dated content on the website which is not SEO friendly and complying with demands online
  • Neglecting loyal customers and not creating a loyalty program that creates value and stronger bonds
  • Aligning messaging across all channels that will ensure you get direct business through the website
  • Maximising on the current database and looking to grow it through strong messaging on the website and offers channels

Areas our recovery strategy
Areas our recovery strategy will help you tackle:

  • Local Marketing - Staycations and domestic trips will be on the rise as not everyone will have the opportunity to fly to faraway destinations. We will work with you to become more visible to the immediate and local demands.
  • Visibility for your Spa, Food and Beverage offerings, and restaurant marketing as you may be looking at creative ways to either deliver or offer takeaway options.
  • Create Customer Loyalty through a strong email marketing program and website sign-ups
  • Assess the past trajectory of your online revenue, create a fresh and realistic post-Covid website revenue plan
  • Analyse the booking engine conversion and quality
  • Audit the current health of the website and work on recommendations that will work over the next 2-3 years
  • Competitor Analysis of where you have the opportunity to grow further and get ahead of the local competition and make suggestions accordingly
  • We carry out in-depth audits on hotels' current website and strategy health vs. competitors which will give you a realistic overview of where you could be missing out

Our key advice to you, please do not neglect your digital strategy no matter what your current capacity or reopening dates, there are various ways and budgets for implementing plans and the sooner you start thinking about this, the better your online sales will be for the new wave of travellers!

Email us at [email protected] or submit a contact form and we'd be happy to help your hotel's recovery online.