Coronavirus has changed everything
Hotel and hospitality marketing is not what it was but we are starting to see the green shoots of recovery following the Government announcing hospitality businesses may open from 4th July. Through this extraordinary time, Clockwork continues to provide expert hospitality marketing consultancy, services and support. We’ve put together a selection of advice, blogs and creative marketing ideas we’ve written or like, helping support your business now and on the road to recovery. Check back for regular updates.
Helping you Through Coronavirus with Brand Awareness and Creativity 03/06/20
Further to the Government’s announcement that hotels, holiday parks and cottages can work to re-opening on 4th July, Clockwork Marketing ran a small survey in May to find out if hospitality business’s across the UK had the same desire to open with restrictive measures in place.
At the same time, The Horn of Plenty Hotel near Tavistock sent out another survey to 10,000 people focused on what potential guests will want from the hotel, if it reopened in July. This research providing a more in-depth analysis of people’s needs, wants and fears.
Clockwork Hotel Re-opening Survey
Hotels, holiday parks, self-catering and wedding venues all responded to the survey with 170 providing their feedback.
Optimistically, the majority of UK hospitality businesses expect to re-open by the end of July (63%). And over 80% expect to be open by the end of 2020, with just 2% not planning on re-opening until 2021.
The majority believe that social distancing will work in their businesses (73%) with some adjustments and Covid-19 Secure measures in place. Examples of this include spacing dining tables out and having staggered dining times in their restaurants.
70% are concerned about a second wave of the virus that could impact their business further as we move into Autumn and Winter.
However, 51% of businesses think the Government’s “Covid-19 Secure” measures, to be announced for the sector, will reassure and encourage guests to book, while 40% don’t know if this will help or hinder.
The Horn of Plenty Hotel’s Guest Research
In the light of the coronavirus’ widespread havoc it’s wreaked across the hospitality industry, it’s fantastic news that 71% of respondents stated they are planning a short break before the end of 2020, according to The Horn of Plenty’s Guest Research.
Most of those surveyed were looking forward to booking a break in September (25%) or October (30%), but there was also desire to book in July August and November.
There were some clear areas to being Covid-19 Secure that respondents highlighted as ‘relatively important’ or ‘very important’ in the survey including:
- A phone call 2 days before arrival to complete a simple “health check”
- Free cancellation up to 24 hours prior to arrival
- Hand sanitisers at check-in
- Temperature scan at check-in for guests and staff
- Hosted breakfast buffet (not self-serve)
- Outside dining option
- Staggered meal times
People surveyed thought that team members wearing full PPE was ‘relatively unnecessary’ or ‘unnecessary’, perhaps demonstrating that guests want to experience as normal a visit to hotels as possible.
Other areas explored were statistically inconclusive with no obvious weighting towards measures being important or unimportant for guests at the time of re-opening. These included:
- Self check-in
- Room service option (breakfast and dinner)
- More frequent room servicing
- Less frequent room servicing
- Use of an app to access restaurant menus and general information
While it’s clear that some hotels and guests may still be nervous of re-opening or travel, the majority are looking to return to some sort of normal, post 4th July. Good news for all of us working in hospitality.
Each week we update our Creative Ideas hub with things we’ve done for clients, seen in the media or come across browsing for the Web. Sometimes we include ideas from other sectors that we like. All for your inspiration and to support you at this difficult time.
Do the Right Thing
Many businesses actively avoid politics. But these days organisations understand that people actively look for those that have an ethical viewpoint and take a strong stance on issues that matter.
In the last week, we’ve seen the terrible news from the US of the killing of George Floyd. As a multi-national, multi-ethnic industry it’s up to hospitality businesses to stamp out racism wherever it lurks.
In the light of the revolution the Coronavirus has caused, perhaps now is the very best time for us to take a long hard look at ourselves and how BAME employees are treated across the UK Hospitality industry. #BLACKLIVESMATTER
Helping you through coronavirus with brand awareness and creativity 27/05/20
Talking to the many different hotels, spas, holiday parks and cottage owners we work with, it seems a lot of people are confused about what the Government will require of hospitality businesses to open on, or after 4th July.
In this week’s communication, we share what we have found after some digging to shed some light and help you prepare more easily.
We’ve also decided to keep our Re-opening Survey live for another week after receiving hundreds of responses and some membership bodies wanting to poll their members. You can still answer the quick five questions here.
Proposals and guidelines
Last week UK Hospitality announced it sent its safe re-opening recommendations to the Government for consideration.
We believe that this page lists a draft version of what UK Hospitality sent to inform forthcoming Covid-19 Secure guidelines for hospitality businesses.
UK Spa Association has also posted re-opening details here which will no doubt be updated over the coming weeks.
While what will be finally included in the Government Covid-19 Secure guidelines for hospitality businesses is still up for debate, we wanted to highlight examples of hotels starting to address re-opening, from very detailed to more personal appeals.
Harbour Hotels has taken a belt and braces approach with a Covid-19 Secure hub on its website, following a risk assessment methodology for all areas of the hotel. It also mentions the appointment of a Covid-19 officer, proceeding previous Government requirements for data protection, for example.
Others like Watergate Bay have provided a more personal approach with a letter from the managing director reassuring guests that new cleaning procedures will be in place while not upsetting the guest experience.
Warner Leisure Hotels is offering a Coronavirus Guarantee to guests which covers flexible booking terms and conditions, as well as reopening cleaning and social distancing information.
As hospitality businesses work towards opening, some are offering takeaway services such as Ye Olde Bell in Nottinghamshire for its renowned Sunday Dinner. Afternoon teas have also been well received with Google’s analysis demonstrating people searching for a sweet treat at home has become one of the most popular searches during lockdown. These and more creative ideas are updated each week here.
Do the right thing
Hotels like the Mercure Hatfield Oak in Hatfield have opened for NHS staff and key workers whilst also raising money for the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Appeal. For any bookings taken the hotel’s owners will donate £5 to the appeal, raising £1600 so far.
Helping you through coronavirus with brand awareness and creativity 19/05/20
In England, we're looking to July 4th with some hospitality businesses preparing to open or others, weighing up if the social distancing measures required will be worth it, in terms of diminished capacity. There has not been a signal from the Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish Governments about re-opening hospitality.
We’re interested to hear your views on when you are thinking of opening or not, the Government’s guidance so far and if you think it will help or hinder your business at this time?
Take our five-question survey now to let us know your feedback? We’ll publish the results in next week’s communication.
Don’t forget every week we publish Creative Ideas we’ve seen or like in the hospitality sector and beyond for your inspiration and support during this extraordinary time.
Do the Right Thing
Hundreds of vulnerable people have been helped out during the coronavirus crisis thanks to Calcot Manor. The hotel set up a community food scheme alongside Gloucestershire council and volunteers, feed up to 600 vulnerable people during lockdown.
Helping you through coronavirus with brand awareness and creativity 13/05/20
On Monday, 11th May the Government announced its coronavirus recovery strategy, following a confusing public statement from the Prime Minister on Sunday.
The good news is that from 4th July, hospitality businesses may be able to open again, with the correct “Covid-19 Secure” measures in place, supported by a self-assessed kite mark being developed by Visit Britain. Many will take these announcements as a green light to start preparing for business and bookings from now.
The date for opening is part of the third stage in the Government’s strategy and will depend on the effect of loosening restrictions on daily exercise, work and public outdoor space from Wednesday 11th May.
If the Reproduction Value (R) of the virus – the average number of how many people one person with coronavirus would infect – rises exponentially, the date may change.
To travel or not?
Travel is still restricted in the UK and people can’t drive to second/holiday homes and stay overnight. You can, however, drive as far as you want to open space to exercise for the day, as long as you are in one private vehicle, and only with members of the same household.
While on the face of it, people can travel to many of the beauty spots where hospitality businesses are located for exercise, some argue, this may bring with them, new and higher infection rates.
As a result, campaigns that launched earlier in the outbreak of the virus in Cornwall and the Peak District, plus new ideas like Do not Visit Blackpool have started up again, asking people to stay away for the time being and not to visit for the day.
Current advice is that UK holidays and overseas holidays can’t be booked at this time either. All in all this leaves us in UK hospitality businesses in a state of confusion.
What can hospitality businesses do now?
Preparations to open in July can go ahead. Legionnaires tests will be required to open, deep cleaning and, when more detailed proposals are released, steps to make hotels, cottages and holiday parks Covid-19 secure.
In terms of marketing, the Government has announced its intention to let small weddings go ahead from 1st June. For those with outdoor wedding space or facilities, this may be a service to promote, even if your main facilities don’t open until July.
While travel at this time can’t be widely promoted, in the same way that you are preparing your accommodation, it may be wise to start looking at your website and what packages and promotions you can offer post 4th July.
Autumn and Winter Breaks are further enough in the future to account for any delay in opening dates to start uploading to your site. Many accommodation providers are preparing bigger Christmas and New Year packages, for example, with longer stays built-in to account for the downturn in summer bookings.
Gift vouchers with flexible booking options remain a sensible offer to market for birthdays, anniversaries and as a tool for longer term booking choice.
Don’t forget May is National Walking Month and a great opportunity to promote the beautiful walks in open space near your location. There are plenty more creative ideas to explore on our handy page here and recovery marketing packages here if you need support.
Do the right thing
The way hospitality and travel will open up in the UK may mean that local guests and your community will be among your first visitors. We have heard many examples of wonderful community support initiatives that hospitality businesses have been part of up and down the country. People value businesses that act responsibly, honestly and authentically and we would encourage you to continue these great initiatives as we all look to support one another and come out of this crisis with stronger communities in place.
Helping you through coronavirus with brand awareness and creativity 05/05/20
Now officially past the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, the Government is releasing guidelines to the hospitality industry on cleaning and businesses on social distancing as it starts to prepare us for life post-lockdown.
While these announcements feel like we are slowly creeping towards a new normality, the media speculates that another three weeks of lockdown will be announced by the Prime Minister later this week.
If we follow France, Italy and Spain, any relaxation on travel will be incremental. France for example, is opening up schools and some businesses on 11 May but with caveats, and personal travel will be restricted to a maximum of 60 miles.
Normally the UK’s busiest tourism region, it’s unlikely that the South West, where the lowest number of coronavirus cases have been recorded, and other less populated UK beauty spots, will open immediately for London tourists and risk a new regional pandemic.
In some parts of the UK popular with tourists, local providers and tourism bodies have joined together to create action plans for reopening.
While we can speculate on when or how hotels, restaurants and holiday parks will be allowed to open, we do know that the new cleaning and social distancing guidelines will have an impact.
Marketing the new normal
To reassure guests and staff and adhere to Government guidelines, some are already preparing to open with new cleaning regimes and social distancing processes in place. Others are calculating the costs of opening at reduced capacity because of the measures.
Either way, marketing the new experience of eating or staying in accommodation is challenging. For some prospective guests, the sight of people in masks and overalls deep cleaning the property may be reassuring but others are looking to escape to normality.
While they want reassurance that the accommodation is super clean, they won’t want to be so forcefully reminded of the virus. Beyond marketing, how to balance offering comfort and relaxation with new restrictions and processes in place?
Why a balanced approach is always best
We’ve already seen a number of emails announcing new cleaning regimes with different images communicating preparations from a number of hotels. While the message is definitely, “we are adhering to all new Government guidelines”, we wouldn’t recommend going over-the-top with staff in masks and aprons imagery.
Such images will remind people of hospitals and photos we’ve seen in the media, rather than your beautiful location; where they can escape the news and home lock-down - even if it is just 30 minutes from their home.
Think about reassuring guests with illustrated guides, that might offer a lighter touch while demonstrating deep cleaning and distancing processes, both for digital marketing and in-house.
Think about your local audience and what they will want from your property, as these will likely be the first guests you will receive. Segment your marketing databases to communicate locally and regionally within a 25 mile radius, for example. Social media advertising can also be used in this way.
For those in rural or seaside locations, highlight the open space, fresh air, beaches and walks available to get away from it all to your local audience. For people who have been in home lock-down, any travel to escape their four walls will be welcome. Remember, we often see properties highest-spending customers live less than an hour away.
Above all, balance health and safety or reassurance messaging with the benefits you have always offered and are still able to provide, where appropriate.
This week’s Creative Ideas
Each week we add some ideas to our creative thinking page we’ve spotted, developed ourselves for clients or like from other sectors. The Payitforward scheme, an innovative Gift Voucher idea and a couple of other creative concepts have been added to the number already available.
Do the Right Thing
Most Holiday Parks are members of the BH&HPA, a professional members body, which has supported the industry for 70 years. It has been undertaking a range of initiatives and lobbying government on behalf of their members. It fears that the 2020 season will be lost and is fighting for long-term financial and political support. If you are not a member, you can see what they have been doing on Facebook, or as members, we can connect you with them. https://www.facebook.com/BHHPA/
The UK Spa Association is working with its members to offer support and advice, and recently launched a survey to collect data about the current state of the industry. This will be used to understand the challenges facing UK Spas and how they can help members to lobby government. The survey can be completed here before 8th May: https://www.my59online.com/membersurvey/?survey_id=2374
Following last week’s hotel request to make contact if others are in the same situation with business cancellation policies from QBA, we’ve had a similar request from holiday cottage owners. Premier Cottages has highlighted that multiple cottage businesses are having difficulties with RSA’s interpretation of its Cottagesure policy, despite being sold as the best insurance a holiday cottage could buy. Premier Cottages has set up a Cottagesure Action Group page on Facebook, where businesses will find lots of information and help on how to pursue their claims.
It is a private group for policy holders only and is available here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/209568546997457/