Last week the Government announced further mandatory requirements to help suppress the rising number of new Coronavirus cases across the UK. The range of measures impact the hospitality industry once again with face coverings now compulsory in hotels, restaurants and pubs for guests unless they are eating or sat down, opening hours and the rule of six group restrictions.
To combat the effects of this, the Chancellor has announced more support for hospitality and other businesses with a new Job Support Scheme available for the next six months. Employees working 33% of their normal working hours will have their remaining hours paid for by their employer and the Government (a third each). VAT breaks have also been announced.
While the last months of summer have seen a boom in occupancy for many coastal and country hotels across the country, city centre hotels have been hit hard by the pandemic. And those that have done well recently still have a fairly large hole to fill from the lockdown period.
Clockwork’s recent Bounce Back Report highlights some of the effects of the bounce back period on different types of hospitality business from boutique hotels to holiday parks but also includes data on the latest attitudes, needs and wants of guests now.
What’s next for hospitality businesses?
While some hotels we work with have already mentioned a small number of guests have cancelled bookings in the light of the most recent Government announcements, for others, there remains an opportunity to win a greater number of staycations and local audience business.
People that won’t go abroad this year and next, attend festivals that host hundreds of thousands or have cancelled one or more yearly cruises will have an excess of holiday money they are looking to spend in the UK.
So what are the things hospitality businesses can do now to market to this group of staycation travellers?
Marketing through Autumn and Winter
People were already feeling distrustful, disoriented and disconnected due to living in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) World. Coronavirus has accelerated this tenfold, but hospitality businesses can help counter these feelings by offering the following:
- Control – Empower people to take control of their lives and holiday but providing detailed information, flexible booking policies and personalised experiences
- Comfort – Offer comfort as an antidote to the fear and anxiety many people are experiencing – the peacefulness of surrounding nature, mindful activities and space to relax
- Community – As social distancing has disconnected us, we now truly understand the value of community. Welcome people to your hospitality business with behind the scenes content and special guest offers
Beyond thinking about the benefits you offer guests to address these three key customer needs, there are a range of short-term tactics you might also consider.
The Indian Summer
- Target non-school adults over 55s and under 30s with “Escapes” to the fresh air
- Don’t forget the October half term holiday. Those who didn’t go away or have a refund from a foreign holiday will be looking for a break.
- Promote isolation themed breaks for more remote hotels – get away from it all, walking breaks or spa escapes.
- If families can’t socialise with others many people will be looking at cottage or hotel breaks together to make Christmas this year more special.
- Consider a Christmas and New Year break together as a longer get away holiday
We must all take comfort from recent Visit Britain research that says 43% of people intend to take the same number of short breaks they did last year and 38% are confident of taking an Autumn overnight trip, rising to 55% in January.