When should I open for bookings?
That’s a tough call for those that don’t yet know what the legal answer is, and there are many different points of view about what’s right and responsible.
Towards your decision we share with love this UK data that shows we are in an early phase of booking recovery. Despite being completed at 3am, following many hours and 20 Jaffa Cakes, it’s pretty easy on the eye and is interpreted in words on the page, with an accompanying video.
Our business imperative is that we are here to serve the guest, so we should be ready to serve.
Being open for bookings is not the same as being open for arrivals. Many believe it is good business practice to take bookings which may or may not happen, should you choose to do so.
Whatever you decide, make sure your calendar is open for 2021, especially if you’re not comfortable taking bookings for July and August. Get those prices in.
You may find it challenging to price your property well when you don’t know what market demand will be like. Beyond Pricing is a godsend at the moment as it will be the fastest way to learn what our properties are worth in today’s market. A timely integration indeed!
How will travellers think and behave after lockdown?
- Pent up demand after lockdown – we are already seeing an increase in UK bookings and data from the US is showing more domestic travel than ever before … humans ‘need’ to travel
- High awareness of payment and cancellation policies – REALLY look before they book
- Desire for space and control, a “whole home” in which to get together with family and friends, apart from others
- Customer loyalty arising from familiarity – “I’ve been there, it was a good experience and I know it will be safe and clean” – communicating with past guests is all-important
- Concern for personal health – we’ll need to be clear about hygiene and disinfection procedures / reducing touch
- Less likely to congregate at restaurants; gatherings at home more likely
- Fear of getting stranded – they will travel by car
- There may be some trepidation about whether they will be welcome and safe depending on how local communities respond to visitors
We will add to this list as the data work unfolds to include, eg booking lead time, duration of stay, unit occupancy.
Is it time to change up my marketing?
Keep going with marketing that leans into the dreaming stage of travel decision-making and that encourages support and respect for your local community. Community relations may be a flash-point for us as we reopen so we need to do all we can to show our responsible approach.
Social channels, video, blogging, emails and your website are effective in this phase of marketing because they are good platforms for generating emotion and magnetism, connecting the traveller to your business.
As people may tend towards the familiar when choosing where to go be sure to create content for those who have visited before.
- Build on the fact they know you by being personal, authentic – share your personal story and your passion for your business and your local community.
- Share what you’re working on to be ready for guests, how their experience will be even better than last time.
- Take them on a virtual experience – like a hike, show them beautiful landscapes, wide open spaces with no people in – help them ‘feel’ the memories again.
- Market to key characteristics – eg if many of your guests bring dogs, remind them how welcome their dog is – example walking routes, the kit you provide, dog friendly eating places etc
- Call guests who cancelled with a rebooking offer
- Target people within a 3-hour drive as travellers may limit their range
People are sitting at home going stir crazy. Many have had their travel plans cancelled. They will move quickly from dreaming about a holiday, through researching, to booking. They’re in the dreaming-through-researching phase so work on developing the dreaming in them and help draw them into the researching and planning stage. This will help you catch the wave of pent up demand that is likely to break with the government announcement that provides a certain date. Timing will be key.
When bookings begin for you be ready to mix in messaging that answers travellers’ logical and practical needs such as information on:
- Flexible cancellation terms
- ‘Best prices’ messaging for encouraging direct bookings
- Reassurance about cleaning standards
- Safe things to do. Could you suggest some day itineraries?
- Show precisely how apart from others they can be to equip them to make the choice they will surely make about how close they want to be to others.
Of course you can’t know whether someone is at the dreaming, researching or booking stage in their buying decision so do make sure all these practicalities are addressed clearly on your website as soon as possible.
Have your say in our SuperControl Community
Head to the SuperControl Community to discuss the best ways to approach and deliver this important phase of marketing.