Facebook Tips For Recovery

The COVID-19 outbreak has affected businesses around the world. Employee health, work patterns, production and consumer habits have all been affected. With this continued shift of consumer behavior comes an opportunity to redefine media strategies and focus on driving new demand for hotels, regaining consumer trust and fortifying customer loyalty. Facebook offers these creative tips for recovery in it’s new Hotel Playbook:

Capture current intent/demand
Ensure high-quality hotel catalog images and relevant text to improve dynamic hotel ads performance. Add overlays to capture attention.

Highlight local/domestic destinations
These can replace some of the international trips people are missing out on. There is also potential to work with creators/
talent to feature great local places.

Highlight confidence messaging
Showcase new cleaning protocols, loyalty program changes to help people maintain status, flexible cancellation/refund policies,
customer service assurance.

Building brand, re-inspire wonder of travel
Rather than highlighting specific brands or properties, help people re-imagine travel not only physically, but virtually.

Building social good
Highlight the great work your hotel may be taking part in to help alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on communities.

Leverage immersive formats
Tell an empathetic, relevant story with formats like Instant Experience, Stories and Instream video. Highlight the current environment while driving consideration of your brand for future travel.

Download the full Facebook Hotel Playbook for more insights.

HSMAI Customer Insight: Safety Still Top Concern | Fuel

This is the eighth release of Fuel’s COVID-19 Consumer Sentiment Study series.  For this edition, Melissa A. Kavanagh, Director of Analytics, Fuel, provides HSMAI exclusive insights on how travel sentiment has seen a big increase in the percentage of people who want to go to a destination with a mask ordinance vs. those who do not want one.

Full Report:

» FUEL COVID-19 CONSUMER SENTIMENT STUDY VOLUME 8: SAFETY STILL TOP CONCERN

For additional information, insights, and tools, visit HSMAI’s Global Coronavirus Resources page.

HSMAI Customer Insight: U.S. Travelers Still Hitting The Open Road | MMGY

After months in quarantine, one of the things that I appreciated the most and hope others recognize and appreciate too is the experience of travel, and that it is not just about the destination, says Brian Klein, MMGY  Senior Business Strategist.  Perhaps road trips may lead travelers to gain a better understanding of their country and those around them, but honestly there is nothing like getting out and exploring on the open road.  This said, the research is telling us that as consumers remain reluctant to hop on a plane, traveling in a personal car is the preferred way to travel for the near future.  In fact, we have seen travelers continue to get a bit more “adventurous” with their drive radius as time has progressed.

HSMAI Customer Insight: The Part-time Planner Is an Underserved Market | Groups360

By Katey Hubbard, regional sales director, Groups360

As a follow-up to our spring 2020 research into the buying journeys of full-time meeting planners, Groups360 initiated a second double-blind research study, this time focusing on part-time meeting planners from associations, small businesses and large corporations.

This group featured executive assistants, office managers and human resource professionals who plan multiple smaller events and meetings each year but for whom meeting planning is not their primary responsibility.

The types of gatherings these planners organize include board meetings, executive team meetings, company town halls, team-building events, training sessions, customer advisory councils or informational seminars, association committee meetings, vendor meetings, road shows, and satellite events associated with a larger conference.

Our biggest takeaway from the latest round of interviews is that this group of administrative professionals represents an underserved market for hotels and suppliers. With the right attention and guidance, this untapped opportunity could mean more loyal group business for the hotels that meet their needs.

Ready to resume in-person meetings

“We are a very personable company and people like to see one another, especially if there are new folks. It’s just nice to get everyone together. So I do see that things will return to normal, not next month, but maybe next year.” —Corporate professional

“Everyone’s so Zoomed out. Everyone’s upset that a number of our education conferences will be held virtually. Once this is over, I think you’re going to see conference attendance skyrocket. People are going to be so excited to get out and meet in person. It’s going to be great.” —Association professional

“Our business is relationships. They want to get together. They want to talk about the latest ways of keeping the environment clean, but they also want to play golf. It’s really about the cocktail hour. That’s where business gets done.” —Corporate professional

After the pandemic put a halt to live events and in-person meetings, the professionals in this cohort either canceled meetings or moved them online. The meetings that ended up canceled instead of held virtually included events whose attendees weren’t tech-savvy, offsite team building, training sessions that require in-person learning, and strategic planning meetings that couldn’t be replicated on Zoom.

There has been ongoing speculation about how business travel will rebound after the pandemic subsides. One sentiment these part-time planners shared is that their corporate teams, fatigued by Zoom, are ready to return to face-to-face meetings as soon as it’s practical. Their companies depend on in-person interaction to build relationships and conduct business, both within and outside of the office. Their associations’ revenues and programs also largely depend on live events.

When in-person meetings do resume, these administrative professionals foresee all previous types of meetings and events returning to a live, in-person format, except for staff meetings, which are easy to arrange and meet their goals, even online.

Least favorite part of the job

“Probably the least favorite part of my job is arranging these meetings, choosing food, and scheduling transportation. I don’t love it. I’m not a secretary. I went to college and got a degree.” —Corporate professional

“I like the idea of planning something and executing it, but sometimes meeting planning can feel like an added responsibility. It’s stressful because it doesn’t necessarily help me achieve the written pieces of my role.” —Association professional

“I think people assume HR managers have a degree in meeting planning. It’s always been that way — I did this for years in my last organization as well. They just believe that HR people know how to a plan meeting.” —Corporate professional

The planners in this administrative group feel a sense of satisfaction from a successful meeting, but they view the logistical work and preparations to be a nuisance. These busy professionals are likely to appreciate anything hotels can do to make the task easier on them.

During the years I spent in hotel sales, about half of my clientele came from this part-time planner pool, and I spent a good part of the sales process teaching them the business. Hoteliers shouldn’t expect them to be as well-versed in the ins and outs of rate negotiations, attrition policies, or what makes for a fair set of concessions — and more importantly, shouldn’t use that lack of experience to their advantage.

If you want to build strong, ongoing relationships with these professionals, take the time to guide them through the process and listen to the needs of their group. There is so much at stake in their types of meetings that they can’t risk anything going wrong. Once you have made their short-list of trusted venues, you will be rewarded with repeat business year after year.

Looking for a one-stop solution

“I’d like a one-stop-shop where you can see availability, average rates, the perks or incentives you might get. If the property is far from the airport, whether they have a complimentary shuttle, as well as possible events in the area for networking activities.” —Corporate professional

“To have a site with information on pricing and availability so that I don’t have to reach out and wait. I’d like to see the floor plan of the meeting space, A/V, restaurants, catering, pictures of the restaurant and guest rooms. If I’m looking for a hotel, visuals are very important to me.” —Corporate professional

When asked what they would want if they could have anything to make their jobs easier, many of these part-time planners expressed a desire for one site where they could see rates and availability and manage all the logistics of a meeting. They are looking to make the planning process simpler so that they can return to the more central aspects of their roles.

The other discovery was that these planners are unaware of the event technology and sourcing solutions currently on the market. One way that hotels can help is to invite these types of planners to collaborate on RFPs and the booking process within online search-and-book solutions such as GroupSync. Technology that reduces their search to the specific hotels that best fit the group’s needs can drastically speed up the process for both planners and suppliers.

Not a fan of the sales pitch

“I would prefer to not have to do all the back and forth on things like attrition, concessions and deposits. In an ideal world, I’d get everything the first time that proposals come back without having to go back and ask for more and more. Start from the top, let me know that I’m getting everything I can possibly get, and I can eliminate some of that negotiating.” —Corporate professional

“It’d be nice if there was a way to negotiate with hotels without having to call them. If there was a way of just pulling it up online and getting that started like Expedia, where you can see the rates and whether they’re in our range so that I don’t have to go calling all these places.” —Corporate professional

Many hotel salespeople bemoan the fact that meeting planners no longer want to pick up the phone. These planners certainly don’t, at least not in the initial stages of their planning process. They would prefer to evaluate rates, availability, rooms and meeting space online and conduct initial inquiries via email. They want the basic facts before the sales pitch starts.

Once your hotel is on the short list, these planners will be willing to talk details. Given the need to streamline the process, they prefer to avoid extensive negotiations. It’s not their personality nor in their typical job description to do so. To the best of your ability, offer them the most reasonable deal that will address their needs and requests while ensuring the group business is beneficial for your hotel.

Where and how to reach them

“Everything is more digitized now, so I would suggest sending direct email blasts to folks who are in this line of work or have meetings as part of their responsibilities.” —Corporate professional

“I subscribe to several daily newsletters about the news and markets. Every now and then, they have a sponsored ad that I tend to ignore, but I see it. It’s in the context of a relevant business newsletter. Advertise like that or post a testimonial.” —Corporate professional

Ready to reach this untapped market? The planners in our study said that the best way to advertise your offerings and services is to send direct email campaigns or advertise in their industry publications.

These planners are often members of professional societies that send out daily or weekly news digests. Consider advertising in publications aimed at groups such as the American Society of Administrative Professionals, the Association of Executive and Administrative Professionals, or the Society for Human Resource Management. When possible, include testimonials or case studies in your outgoing marketing materials.

Another gateway is through the events team on staff at their organizations. Full-time corporate event planners frequently attend industry conventions and bring back vendor information to the administrative staff at their companies who plan meetings. Keep that in mind when you exhibit or present at a hospitality industry conference or trade show.

If you have existing corporate event planner or association meeting planner customers, consider asking them for referrals to admins in their organizations, as that’s another great way to communicate what you have to offer.

Read more planner pain points and how Groups360 is addressing these needs through industry-changing event technology.

HSMAI Customer Insight: Planning for Labor Day | Amadeus

Insights for HSMAI on comparing Memorial Day and July 4th booking trends as you plan for Labor Day, the last holiday of the summer season.

By: Katie Moro, Vice President, Data Partnerships, Hospitality, Amadeus

As we have heard often in the past few months, we are in unprecedented times, and with that comes new ways to look at things. There is no historical playbook that hoteliers can reference to identify tried-and-true steps to take next for this recovery process.  To better understand what hoteliers can do to increase business for the upcoming holiday, we looked at traveler behavior and market performance across a smaller but more relevant period.  Are there common patterns, and what can we learn by comparing summer holidays within the context of COVID-19?

Let’s first set the stage. In our July update, we noted the trend of shorter booking lead time (0-7 days) and shifts seen in average daily rates (ADR). We also considered the impact of dropping rate to drive demand, as demonstrated by performance in ten different markets. And, we suggested considering how you’re building your mix of business as this will have an overall impact on profitability and recovery.  Keep these factors in mind as you look ahead to the Labor Day holiday, while also considering trends that are evolving from prior summer holidays.

Considering Holiday Trends During COVID-19

In the following graph, we compare occupancy trends across Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day. We find some consistency in the data.  For the first two holidays, there was a gradual increase in occupancy from weeks 3 to 2 to 1. Within one-week before arrival, there was a significant increase in occupancy for both Memorial Day and July 4th.

Labor Day seems to be shaping up similarly. A few travelers are booking their accommodations early. Still, a significant number will likely choose to wait and make last-minute arrangements to travel based on their comfort level at that time.  One aspect that does create optimism is the fact that bookings made within one week of arrival had an 11% spike between the Memorial Day to July 4th holidays.  This increase may imply that travelers are eager to get out of the house and feeling more comfortable with travel.  Based on prior patterns, markets that are seeing any pickup in activity should build a strategy to try to capitalize on the last-minute demand for the last holiday of the summer season.

Occupancy Changes by Market

The following graph represents the markets with the highest Labor Day occupancies as of August 21, 2020.  In addition to higher occupancies, some of these markets, such as Harlingen, TX and Durango, CO are seeing significant week over week (WoW) growth as we approach the Labor Day holiday.  Even with these currently high numbers, trends suggest more reservations are likely to be made as we approach 0-3 day lead time.

Several of the top-performing markets we’re tracking for Labor Day have been in our Top 20 list over the Memorial Day and July 4th holidays.  Markets such as Destin, FL and Cedar City, UT have an excellent opportunity to capitalize on this consistent demand to drive revenue over the last summer holiday.

On our “markets to watch” list, Jacksonville, NC, along with Cheyenne, WY, and Jackson, TN, were in the Top 20 for Memorial Day and July 4th.  If booking patterns continue down the same path, they have a great opportunity to end in the Top 20 again.

If your market is not on this list, we suggest aligning your sales and marketing initiatives to promote a compelling offering for the holiday weekend. Given the very short booking window, there is still an opportunity to entice travelers to book at your hotel. Craft dynamic messaging and stunning visuals to attract local repeat guests. Highlight your family-friendly suites and activities to appeal to those who may be looking for an end of summer outing before the kids return to school.

It is essential during this upcoming holiday, with increased bookings into Vacation Rentals, to ensure that you can provide accommodations that fit the traveler need. Some ideas could be guaranteeing connecting rooms, offering specialty suites that compete with alternative accommodation pricing, and amenities that cater to family-friendly budgets (i.e. free breakfast).

Since traveler trends are showing so many last minute reservations, we will post updates on LinkedIn to keep you informed of market progress. Follow us for the latest insight.

For additional insights and recommendations for your recovery planning efforts, the teams at Amadeus and HSMAI have collaborated to bring you industry-leading best practices to consider when building, implementing, and monitoring your recovery strategy. As always, we’re here to help. Working together as an industry, we will recover and come back stronger than ever.

HSMAI Customer Insight: The Value of the Travel Agent | MMGY

MMGY shares this insight for HSMAI from their recent travel agent survey:

It’s clear across all channels that building confidence is paramount for the travel industry to move forward. The climate right now is a tough one to navigate as consumer confidence is shaky amid the surge in COVID-19, but travelers are also becoming increasingly educated about the risk factors for transmission…and relying on Travel Agents more than ever.  Meanwhile, we’re still seeing strong evidence that the desire for travel is as powerful as ever, manifesting itself right now in the form of road trips and regional travel…but what is new is that Travel Agents are now seeing 42% of bookings from this sort of trip. As marketers, it’s not only our responsibility to deliver a message of confidence to consumers through our Agency partners, but also to ensure that they have the right resources to help us rebuild the industry.

Full Report:

» Travel Advisor Survey Indicates Clients Deterred by Coronavirus are Banking on Vacations in Early 2021

HSMAI Customer Insight: Travelers Losing Confidence in Coronavirus Information Sources | Longwoods

Amir Eylon, President & CEO of Longwoods International, provides HSMAI insight into his firm’s latest traveler sentiment survey findings, including how the ever-shifting threat of the pandemic has taken its toll on consumer confidence in official information sources.

Full Report: 

HSMAI Customer Insight: The Most Important Word in Hospitality: Clean | MMGY

Insights for HSMAI from MMGY Travel Intelligence.

As hotels start opening up and preparing for post pandemic operations, one of the toughest things we will have to navigate as hoteliers is how to manage guest expectations and the guest experience.  We are all thinking about the shape of the “new normal” and what the shift from high-touch to high-tech looks like, but one thing that will be consistent across the board is the importance of new health and safety measures that have taken priority.  Anxieties over health, safety and travel limitations have meaningfully changed the travel journey from end to end. The focus was once convincing travelers to choose your hotel, destination or travel activity, but now we must convince them to take the leap and book a trip – or even travel at all.

This said, consumers are looking for clues on how they can travel while minimizing risk for themselves and their families. They are being inundated with information and are looking for virus-proof journeys (or as close as they can get).  We need to ensure our content around health, wellness and safety is as prominent as it can be and that we are communicating about how to keep visitors and guests safe…not just once they check-in but throughout the entire customer journey.  While MMGY Travel Intelligence has been tracking traveler safety for some time now, one stat that recently stood out from Trip Advisor was that 86% of consumers now say that cleanliness is the most important factor now when selecting accommodations.

HSMAI Customer Insight: Occupancy Changes, Segment Shifts, Rate Adjustments | Amadeus

By: Katie Moro, Vice President, Data Partnerships, Hospitality, Amadeus

You’ve heard the same phrases over and over. We’re living and working through an “unprecedented” time.  Meanwhile, you’re trying to manage your business while you identify strategies to recover and bring your business back to “normal” performance.  In this article for HSMAI, we’ll provide insight into three key metrics and important areas for consideration in your business during this time.

Occupancy Changes

The week to week changes in demand has been unnerving to many.  While the US hotel market has experienced three consecutive weeks of improved new reservations from June 21 through July 12, there has been an acceleration of cancellations during the same weeks.  These fluctuations are somewhat intuitive as consumer sentiment related to travel is influenced by changes in the progression of COVID-19.

SOURCE: Demand360® data as of July 12, 2020

Segment Shifts

The overall increase in occupancy contribution from the retail market segment is exciting to see as it is outperforming other transient segments. In most situations, this would be an excellent scenario for profitability as these bookings typically come with a higher rate.  But looking solely at occupancy numbers is only one area for consideration. As we see this increase in volume, we must also ask ourselves: At what cost do we acquire this business?

SOURCE: Demand360® data as of July 12, 2020

Rate Adjustments

Total average rates have declined between $30 – $60 in June and July. Lower rates suggest adjustments are being applied to the best available rate (BAR). It is important to keep in mind that reductions in average daily rate (ADR) could lead to more challenges in rebuilding your business as it is well documented that this often leads to extended recovery periods.

SOURCE: Demand360® data as of July 12, 2020

SOURCE: Demand360® data as of July 12, 2020

Interestingly, when we review a May 30 snapshot of US rates, we find that the ADR was down just $18 over last year for the week of July 5. The same snapshot of ADR performance as of July 12 shows the rate drop for the same week was down $44 over last year. Similar trends occur moving forward into the next several weeks of summer.

It begs the questions, why are hoteliers are not maintaining their rate in alignment with their value proposition. Are packages too operationally challenging to offer with limited staff? Are typical discounts too prohibitive to make readily available?  Consider how you can provide value to your guests without dropping rate. Perhaps adding additional services that you can later remove from packages as consistent demand returns.

Looking ahead, the data suggests the industry is maintaining rates further into summer.  Take the time now to identify ways to hold this rate.  Current booking trends indicate a significant amount of market compression as a majority of guests are booking accommodations 0-7 days before travel. Dropping your rate weeks ahead of this has a lower likelihood of driving demand if guests expect to make a last-minute decision to travel.  With relaxed cancellation policies, guests could catch on and cancel bookings they made further out in favor of last-minute rate drops closer to their stay dates.

Every hotelier is facing unique and drastically different circumstances from any past downturn.  Relying on historical trends to predict what will happen in the current weeks and months is irrelevant. Use a forward-looking business intelligence solution to identify trends for your specific market, even going so far as to re-evaluate potential changes in your competitive set.

To support you in your recovery efforts, the teams at Amadeus and HSMAI have collaborated to bring you industry-leading best practices that you can consider when building, implementing, and monitoring your recovery strategy. As always, we’re here to help. Collaborating as an industry, we will recover and come back stronger than ever.

Update Profiles for Current and Future Guests

Think about what new trends may have emerged during this crisis and caused changes in consumer behavior. Some key trends we’ve seen are:

“Generation Clean”: As well as classifying travelers by Millennials, Gen X, or Baby Boomers, let’s welcome “Generation Clean” — a new cross-generational segment of travelers who will prioritize health and hygiene when hotel shopping post COVID-19. In a survey of HSMAI members, 38 percent believe a change in health and safety will be the most significant trend we’ll see during crisis recovery, and a further 47 percent also see this as the most impactful long-term trend.

 

Experience over convenience: The influx of online events now available is a clear indication that the experience economy is here to stay. After months of confinement, consumers will focus on trips that deliver meaningful experiences. Hotels have an opportunity to build packages for different traveler types, from the solo adventurer, couples, groups — and beyond — that appeal to this need.

Digital domination: A greater dependency on mobile and internet during lockdown has led to an even greater adoption of all things digital. For consumers, this has caused a change in the way information is consumed, with more time spent on social media than ever before and new trends emerging, such as the popularity of short videos on platforms like TikTok and Instagram. As a result, marketers are faced with different ways of marketing to and interacting with consumers.

Excerpted from Planning for Hospitality Recovery – Marketing, a new playbook available from HSMAI and Amadeus.

For additional information, insights, and tools, visit HSMAI’s Global Coronavirus Recovery Resources page.