When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, everything seemed to have pushed the pause button and the crisis took its toll on the tourism industry, thus many hotels and facilities catering to tourists are in the doldrums, many facing closure due to the lesser demand, dropping in revenues, increasing operational costs, and so much more.

Is there really a way to survive (and possibly thrive) amid the pandemic?

The answer is, yes. However, travel is not going to be the way it used to be. With many restrictions and safety protocols in place, hoteliers will have to go through some rough roads along the way but still, this phase is survivable. The question is, how?

In this blog, we will help you find your way to recovery. Here are the tips you must follow to navigate the new normal and bring more sales and revenues. 

6 Steps to Help Hotels Navigate the COVID-1 Crisis

  1. Optimize OTA presence
  2. Reach new audiences
  3. Offer flexibility to guests
  4. Adjust your market positioning
  5. Leverage data and revenue insights
  6. Adapt to the current situation

1. Optimize OTA presence

Now more than ever, Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) are an important tool to widen your exposure as they give hotels increased online visibility by connecting you to the global audience. With this, it can result in an increased number of bookings, therefore maximizing revenues and boosting profits. 

But with more than 4,000 OTAs to choose from, it’s really challenging to know which one is the best so it’s important that hoteliers must choose the right OTA.

Once you’ve chosen the perfect OTA for your hotel, make sure to always keep your profile and images updated including the most important information like new opening times, renovations done, hygiene procedures, and more.

It would also be helpful to reach your target market by listing your hotel on niche OTAs that match your offering and are popular in Southeast Asia or neighboring countries as well. 

Read also: 5 Easy Steps on How to Improve Your Hotel OTA Rankings

2. Reach new audiences

While OTAs greatly help widen your hotel’s exposure, there are other ways that you can do to reach new audiences. One of these is increasing your digital presence through apps, social media, website, and more. 

Optimize your hotel website to rank well for searches specific to your niche by using specific keywords that people usually search for. SEO in blogs and on-site pages helps travelers find your website. An advanced hospitality technology like Zen Hospitality Solutions can address your hotel’s needs. ZEN Hospitality Solutions offers a wide range of services for revenue management, digital marketing, and an exclusive listing on zenrooms.com

3. Offer flexibility to guests

Due to the pandemic, travel is not the same as it used to be. As the industry slowly gets back on its feet, hoteliers must adhere to the new normal. 

If the price is the most important factor when deciding where to book a hotel pre-pandemic, now, for most travelers, the flexibility to cancel your booking without any penalty is a must during uncertain times. Flexibility doesn’t have to revolve only in cancellation policies. You can also give your guests more options when it comes to meal plans, booking preferences, service-oriented preferences, early check-in/late check-out, rewards for customer loyalty and referral, and the list goes on. Travelers don’t want to risk losing their money so they prioritize the hotels that offer flexibility.

4. Adjust your market positioning

Adjust your market positioning by leveraging your USPs or adapt to the current scenario in the travel scene. Even with the pandemic, you can boost your sales by adapting to the current needs of the travelers like quarantine accommodations, long stays for those who live far from office, staycations, and many more. That way, you can better serve your customers. See what’s best for your hotel. The more you adapt, the more chances you’ll survive the pandemic.

5. Leverage data and revenue insights

Having good data enables hoteliers to increase their revenues, spot trends, calibrate operational efforts, and be able to make the right decisions. By exploring data, you can adapt to the current scenario and you will be able to give your guests what they want and do best for your hotel business. 

Using real-time data helps you in decision-making, and forecasting accurately during the recovery phase. However, it is time-consuming and very difficult to do manually. 

What you can do is use an automated RMS like ZEN eManager Express for best pricing and revenue. ZEN eManager Express features intelligent pricing, real-time automated updates, and in-depth analytics for performance review backed by artificial intelligence (AI). With this, you can reduce your man-power cost while getting the best prices worry-free. By letting a powerful tool like ZEN eManager Express, you can get precise data while saving time, and it gives you a more accurate result. 

What our clients say about ZEN Hospitality Solutions

Vayassi House is a ZEN partner in Jakarta, Indonesia who had been struggling with low occupancy rates due to COVID-19, and the property is new with fresh listings on OTAs. After using ZEN’s eManager Express, occupancy reached more than 57% even during the pandemic. Vayassi House even became Booking.com Preferred Partner and Genius property after being managed by ZEN.

6. Adapt to the current situation

To succeed amid the pandemic, hoteliers must learn to adapt to the current situation by harnessing changes and digital solutions. Now, what’s important for travelers to ensure their safety is minimizing their physical contact with other people. 

While offering flexibility to guests really helps, you can also give your guests some peace of mind by making use of technology. Go for a paperless system where you can apply self check-in and check-out for your guests, give digital menus and tour offerings. And of course, your hotel must follow the health and safety protocols to ensure everyone’s safety.

Adapting to the current scenario is one of the most important ways on how hotels can survive the pandemic. And when you adapt, you will be able to gather all the data you need to optimize OTA presence, reach new audiences, and adjust your market positioning that will lead to your hotel’s success amid the crisis. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Hotel Strategies to Navigate the Pandemic

Q: How can I make my hotel stand out online?
A: Improving online presence is not simple. It requires a lot of work as hotels are listed on multiple OTAs, it needs attention individually. Therefore, working with hospitality management companies such as ZEN Rooms really helps to remove the burden from the hotel’s side to ZEN, which has worked with thousands of properties in the region and is experienced in how to maximize the properties’ visibility online. Secondly, setting the most competitive rates is also important, as normally the cheapest rates will show up at higher ranks. However, we also do not want to sell too cheaply. This is where ZEN eManager Express comes in, helping you to come up with the best prices among competitors in the area

Q: How do I ensure that my hotel is listed on all OTAs across the world?
A: Ensuring that your hotel is listed on all OTAs might not be an easy task, as there are hundreds of OTAs available out there and they might have different application procedures and sales strategies. Therefore, entrusting your hotel listings with experienced hospitality management companies like ZEN will make your job easier. ZEN is also working with eZee Channel Manager, which ensures that all your inventory is managed correctly across all different OTAs. Combined together, in addition to ZEN eManager Express for your pricing strategies, our partners have experienced a 24% increase in revenue after partnering with ZEN (refer to the deck for this number)

Q. How has ZEN helped its partners navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: During this difficult period, it is pivotal to take advantage of all the possible channels and strategies available. ZEN is always trying to maximize the revenue of your properties by doing the following things:

  1. Optimize OTA presence by ensuring the content of your online listings are up to date and nice to see, also to help you in collecting reviews from guests to boost your presence even further
  2. Reaching new market segments by incorporating your properties to our B2B channels across the world, as well as listing your properties on zenrooms.com. This is one of the best perks of working with Zen, as these channels open a pathway to the untapped market potential that your property was not exposed to before
  3. Implementing the best pricing strategies for your properties. Backed with the topnotch automated revenue management solution of Zen eManager Express, we ensure that your rooms are always sold at very competitive prices, maximizing revenue and occupancy rates at this difficult time

Q: How did ZEN help its partners improve their online presence?
A: One of ZEN’s partners, Susilo Mansion in Jakarta, had been struggling to perform before joining ZEN, achieving below 10% occupancy rates in the first three months after the opening dates. ZEN helped them by improving its online presence by maximizing its content score, providing photography services to ensure all the pictures are marketable, and including the properties in multiple campaigns and promotions across all major OTAs. ZEN also succeeded in helping the property to join OTA’s special programs which require high OTA scores. In the end, ZEN has helped to improve its online share of bookings to more than 80%, achieving more than 40% occupancy rates after joining ZEN, and the number keeps increasing.

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