The past year has been difficult for hotels, to say the least. The COVID-19 pandemic essentially shut down global travel. Luckily, it looks like there could be an opportunity to rebound this summer, as many locations are opening up travel.
With that in mind, it could be a good time for hotels to rethink some of their old ways of doing things. Maybe they invest in hotel property management software or start taking more time to respond to Trip Advisor reviews.
There are a lot of ways to improve how you function as a hotel and how you serve the needs of guests. Many of the important lessons can come from how Airbnb operates.
Airbnb actually weathered the pandemic pretty well, all things considered, because they were agile and pivoted their marketing in the right ways.
The following are some things hotels might be able to learn from Airbnb as they reopen to guests this summer.
While it isn’t a requirement, Airbnb hosts have really been on the leading edge of making check-in easy for their guests, and often it doesn’t even require in-person contact. Many guests prefer this, especially in the post-pandemic era.
Whether you’re using an app or a kiosk, making check-in simple for your guests as a hotel is so important.
They shouldn’t have to wait in line and beg for an upgrade. If there are upgrades available, you can show those to your guests digitally when they’re checking in.
If you have great management software, then along with making check-in much better, you might be able to streamline things like key retrieval with self-service.
Be Unique with Room Design
A big takeaway from Airbnb that hotel operators can take into consideration is how important unique room design is.
You should aim to have a different style in the various rooms of your hotel, rather than the bland, cookie-cutter, corporate look that hotels have become synonymous with.
Create a Story
Airbnb hosts and the brand as a whole are great at storytelling in a way that captures the imagination of their guests. You feel like you’re getting an experience.
When you’re marketing, you want to try to do the same thing.
Travel is something that’s special and meaningful to guests, and your hotel marketing and branding should reflect that.
As part of that, Airbnb is really great about emphasizing all of the fantastic local amenities and unique attractions that surround their stays.
They will connect guests with local tour guides and true, authentic experiences. Airbnb puts a lot of effort into making their platform about the full experience or journey, as was touched on above, and that includes not just the apartment or house itself but everything around it.
As a hotel, maybe you think about partnering with local companies, whether it’s tour-guide operators, restaurants, or shops, and you can begin to offer true experiences to your guests. This is great not only for your business but with so many businesses still trying to recover from the pandemic, you’re probably going to find a lot of willing local participants.
Use Your Data
Airbnb is really, at its core a tech company. They utilize data to create tailored experiences, messaging and marketing. You can do the same thing.
As tourism starts to rebound, think about how you can be a data-driven hotel. That data can open up a lot of doors as far as how you market yourself and also how you take care of guest needs when they’re on-site.
There’s nothing more that consumers value right now than transparency.
It’s better to be honest about what your potential flaws or shortcomings are while highlighting and focusing on what you do well. It’s much worse to have guests arrive and be disappointed than to be aware of what to expect.
Managing expectations is critical, whereas in the past, before the world of the online review, maybe it wasn’t as important.
If you ask your guests why they’re traveling when they book with you, then you can use that information to personalize many experiences. Of course, not everyone is going to have a reason, but when you have the opportunity if there’s a birthday, honeymoon, anniversary or another special event being celebrated, you can leave thoughtful touches.
It can mean the difference in the review that a guest leaves your hotel, and it gives you a personal touch that’s going to set you apart.
Be Proactive About Feedback
Probably one of the things that set Airbnb apart most from hotels is the reliance on guest feedback. That guest feedback is largely how people make their travel decisions.
Reading reviews can make or break whether someone books a particular stay on the site.
Airbnb is very proactive about seeking out feedback, and it’s considered an important part of the experience on both the part of the guest and the host.
You need to take feedback just as seriously.
You need to make it clear where and how you want guests to leave feedback. Spell it out for them.
Maybe you prefer they leave a review on a booking engine like Expedia, on Google, or perhaps on a site like Trip Advisor.
Whatever it is, make it simple for them to leave feedback and seek it out because a lot of travelers aren’t going to do it without being reminded.
Finally, while business travel is non-existent right now, that doesn’t mean people aren’t going to be working from your hotel. People are still working remotely, and a lot of your visitors may be digital nomads who work from anywhere.
With that in mind, keep up with features that will appeal to people who are working remotely.
Make Wi-Fi free if you can, and try to highlight designated workspaces in rooms and common areas.
Adding a communal workspace can be a distinctive feature in your hotel, for example. It lets people come together to work while not actually working together.