It’s no secret that the hospitality and corporate business travel industry was hit hard by COVID-19. The question now is how to keep your business afloat and get it back on its feet. The good news is that some domestic business travel is still happening, and there are ways you can leverage it to get through this crisis.
Many airlines have trimmed down their flight schedules, and the constantly changing international travel restrictions add to the overall uncertainty. This means both international business and leisure travel will likely remain greatly reduced for the foreseeable future. The same goes for non-essential domestic travel, which is strongly discouraged in most countries.
Right now, domestic business travel is one of the best ways to fill hotel rooms. Let’s look at five ways you can attract more guests from this segment in the coming months. And while we’re at it, pick up some ideas on building your overall reputation as a great business hotel, too.
Explore 5 ways to boost domestic business travel to your hotel:
1. Promote your property via local and national media.
Budgets may be tight these days, but it’s important to invest in marketing, even during this distressed time. It’s your only chance at staying at the front of people’s minds for the upcoming reopening period and beyond. However, don't focus so much on targeting an international audience right now. Instead, work with local and national media in your region to reach domestic clients.
Further target your efforts by building connections with industry-specific media or outlets that reach a select audience. Finally, if local health guidelines allow it, host reporters for a site inspection to gain media features. Your ongoing media presence will make you one of the first property guests think of when booking a trip to your city.
2. Get active on social media.
Working with traditional media outlets can be a long game of waiting for others to give you exposure. Take matters into your own hands by working with social media channels like LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook.
Yes, building traction can take time here, too. But you can move things along by continuously developing and refining your content strategy.
To get started, ensure your page or profile has a clear message that highlights your property’s USPs (unique selling points) for business travellers. Then, begin creating and sharing branded content that further positions you as the go-to destination for domestic business travel.
Do this by showcasing your:
- Facilities (e.g. business centre or executive lounge)
- Services designed specifically for business travellers (e.g. airport transfer, hassle-free online check-in and check-out)
- Amenities in the room (e.g. speakers and microphones for online meetings, an adjustable desk, and chair)
Use social proof to further build your credibility and increase your audience’s confidence in your brand. Share feedback and quotes from recent guests about their time with you. Get a short video testimonial from people who enjoyed their stay and share it as a story or post. According to a report by Ipsos, 68% of guests trust reviews.
Lastly, encourage guests to share their experiences at your property on their own social channels. This user-generated content is a powerful way to drive engagement and get more positive word of mouth. The same Ipsos report states that 53% of bookers are influenced by user-generated content.
3. Offer float down to rack rates.
These days, you might be tempted to sign new static contracts at reduced rates to guarantee business for your hotel. While that may seem like a good idea now, restricting yourself to these rates far into the future could harm your business down the line. Once recovery is in full swing, you could lose out on revenue opportunities because you’re locked into your contracts.
Instead, provide your current clients with a good deal that benefits you both. Offer float down to rack rates or give a discount from rack rates for your wholesale clients while your public prices are lower. That way, you can win bookings today and it’ll be easier to revert to pre-pandemic rates once business picks up. You’ll also save time creating new contracts that could cause conflicts with reduced online prices.
4. Create special offers for your clients.
Your past clients are one of your most valuable assets. You already convinced them to stay with you before. If they enjoyed it, it should be easy to get them to return next time they’re in town.
Help matters along by checking in with your regular domestic business travel customers and recent guests to stay at the front of their minds. It’s not so much about pushing them to book, but about keeping up the personal connection. Of course, you can offer a bonus for repeat guests, but don’t get too pushy.
Consider creating special offers that set you apart from your competition. Here are some ideas:
- Is your gym closed? Rent out in-room gym equipment.
- Do your business guests often work from their room? Refresh your in-room dining options and create remote work-friendly packages.
- Can you support guests with extra perks? Offer a package complete with high-speed internet and all other office services guests might need.
Overall, it’s important to impress your prospects with good service (e.g. quick response time). Every part of the experience matters since competition is fiercer than ever.
5. Talk about your COVID-19 safety procedures.
You’re probably doing this already (if not, it’s high time). But it’s still worth thinking about how you can use your COVID-19 procedures to engage potential guests and keep them safe in the process.
Highlight everything you’re doing to keep staff and clients healthy on your website and social media. This shows how seriously you’re taking hygiene and safety. On top of simply describing your measures, use photos and videos of how you sanitise common areas or clean rooms. Make this dry topic engaging by using stories, reels, or GIFs, and feel free to get creative.
Keep in mind that each hotel and market is different, and the situation is constantly evolving. Be ready to update your strategy as restrictions are loosened or new regulations are introduced.
If you can do that and put some of the above ideas into practice, you’re on the best way to gaining more domestic business travel customers — even during these trying times.
Start attracting more domestic business travel today!
Next up, find out how to help guests feel safe at your property and give them confidence in your health and safety protocols before their arrival.