Build loyalty, leads, and a resilient brand with these revenue management and marketing strategies.
As travel restrictions and social distancing jolt vacation rentals, savvy leaders should ready their technology and data strategies for an inevitable market recovery. Now is the time to focus on ways to attract new guests and rebook existing reservations.
While COVID-19 reactions are challenging, recessionary periods are nothing new for our industry. Downturns are part of the travel industry rhythm-and they can be weathered.
In times like these, it’s natural for VRMs to get defensive; but wholesale cuts in promotions, pricing, and staff may have more far-reaching consequences than a recession itself. Instead of engaging in a price war, consider tactics for optimizing systems, building relationships, boosting loyalty, and preserving long-term guest value. As you face the tough times ahead, consider proven strategies employed by NAVIS customers.
Turn to technology
With the right technology, companies can grow lead numbers (guests who have previously enquired but do not have an existing reservation), add efficiency, support a remote workforce, and create future direct booking opportunities. They can also reduce knee-jerk pricing strategies with data-driven decisions.
Here are five ways to harness and nurture direct demand to improve operations.
1) Reach out to past guests.
Understand what drives loyalty in repeat guests. Brand and property differentiators need to be emphasized during a slowdown. Appeal to your most loyal segments through the experiences guests love about your property, and leave rates out of the conversation. Kick off the conversation by speaking to their hearts, not their wallets.
2) Make policies “people first”.
Rigid policy enforcement sets the wrong tone, especially in a downturn set off by illness and CDC recommendations. Ideally, vacation rentals accommodate cancellation requests while securing future bookings. In response to COVID-19, one NAVIS client allows for cancellations with a held deposit toward a future stay. Another now holds funds for a calendar year and encourages travelers to rebook. Your company can also consider backfilling cancellations with outreach to past Not Booked, No Availability leads.
Forbes reports that 62 percent of guests are more bothered by unfriendly staff than subpar amenities. Stressful times exacerbate sensitivities for both guests and staff. Adopting “more human” policies can ease tensions and create goodwill. Remember: Your biggest asset in the future is the relationships you develop today.
3) Give attention to your local market.
Yes, travelers are canceling flights and travel. But weary prospects and cooped-up families will need a break, especially after travel restrictions and illness concerns pass. Consider ways to leverage your “drive-market” and close feeder markets to stimulate local leisure business and energize demand once things clear.
4) Grow-don’t shrink – your marketing investment.
A popular adage says, “When times are good you should advertise. When times are bad you must advertise.”
Studies show the advantage of maintaining or increasing marketing budgets in weak economies. The reasons: competitive noise drops, cost of advertising declines, and mind share for future sales is up for grabs. Don’t miss this opportunity to rise above the noise and position your brand for future success.
5) Avoid an ADR plunge.
Whatever marketing or loyalty call-to-action you choose, avoid reliance on price cuts. Published discounts may displace years of competitive positioning and erode brand equity. Instead, compete on quality of service or other incentives that resonate with specific segments. Resist the urge to reduce rates and continue to tell your brand story.
Times are tough – and they may get tougher. But when the outbreak ends, consumers will regain confidence. As VRMs anticipate this recovery, creating and converting demand with technology, service, and brand improvements is vital. For more resources to help aid in your recovery, visit naviscrm.com/recovery.