By Abdulla Nabeel
The travel industry has seen some of the worst business impacts from the outbreak of COVID-19, a global pandemic threat that now has infected more than 116,000 people and killed about 4,000.
For a country heavily dependent on tourism, it is important for the resort managers to be prepared to deal with it. Abdulla Nabeel, former Group Director of International Sales & Distribution of TSMIC highlights 10 important tips of how hoteliers can deal with the pandemic.
1. Be Crisis Ready
Get your teams together and be ready for crisis handling and communications. As a S&M Leader you should sit on The Crisis Management Committee.
Get the PR or Marcom team to prepare sample messages and press releases in the “pre-in-post” stages of crisis. Make sure your message is in line with Government authorities.
Keep updating your in-house and future guest on what’s going on in your island and what preventive measures you are taking to contain possible cases.
Be prepared. You could be Next!
2. Don’t stop marketing campaigns or sales calls
Remember the saying, when going gets tough, the tough gets going? Likewise accelerate your ad campaigns and marketing initiatives. Make calls to your important accounts and update them on the situation. Personalize your narrative.
Focus on future events or special offers available within or after next three to six months.
3. Don’t stop training and coaching
When business input is slow, increase your talent input. Accelerate your training sessions for your staff. Coaching, one-on-one and those frivolous appraisals you have been hiding in your desk. Do all that now.
Or go learn a new skill yourself. You might have a skill another department can use now or later. Get yourself enrolled to an online course. Go explore and expand your mind.
4. Don’t advertise Local Rates
You all know that locals are panicking more than anyone due to the news of Covid-19. You also know majority can’t afford even your extra super special discounted local rates. So why waste money and time.
If you get a serious request from a local be kind enough to offer your most flexible friends and family rate. You might get a prayer instead of huge revenue.
5. Don’t market superficial discounts online
There is no point to market 49% and 59% discount offers for booking valid for this month or next month. No one is looking for cheap deals now.
Most importantly don’t market those discounted rates to Maldivian audience on social media. You are wasting marketing money.
6. Don’t reduce your rates to a point of no return
You all know this situation is temporary, and it will bounce back. Don’t discount to the point you can’t lift up when market stabilizes in few months.
Be smart with how you discount. With each offer always think of ways to fence and control.
7. Be flexible with cancellation policy
Yes, some of you are, flexible with cancellation for wholesale bookings. But most of you are still displaying 21-30 days cancellation penalty policies for arrivals in March and April.
If a customer or one of your trade partner goes and checks your website for cancellation policy and finds that you are inhuman with your policies, they won’t call you. Show you are flexible everywhere.
Go check all your online channels and remove deposit and cancellation conditions until Q4, all dates included.
No one will buy into your strict policies during a time of uncertainty.
8. Introduce Value-added Advance Purchase Offers
With what’s going around the world no one is looking for a super last minute cheap deal. But if you promote super special offer for Q3 and Q4, with no cancellation or deposit conditions, you might get lucky.
Throw in some value-adds that won’t be available during normal periods. Like real values, not just free meals or a coconut on arrival.
Make an offer so compelling your customers will straightaway Take Action!
9. Stop Megaphoning everything you see or read
Stop sharing repeated negative messages on social media.
Everyone knows where to find the right information, so there is no need for you to keep posting everything you see or hear on your social feeds or private groups. Some of them can be fake.
Your networks possibly consists of partners or customers. There is no point to create more fear.
10. Stay Healthy and Be Ready for the Rebound
Focus on yourself and your people. Stay healthy, eat well, exercise more, increase your vitamins, pray and be ready for the comeback. When everything opens up it’s time to get going even harder.
About the Author:
Nabeel is a passionate, focused business development leader with years of continued success developing and administering innovative sales strategies that sustain growth in revenue. Nabeel has worked in some of the top resorts in the Maldives in senior business development roles, often tipped as the best sales and marketing professional in the country.