For the vast majority of business owners, and particularly those in the Tourism sector, re-opening a business in this strange ‘new normal’ we find ourselves in is a truly tremendous challenge. The landscape has changed so completely it is utterly unrecognisable. We are having to adapt our offering on every single level, adopting practices and policies that have barely crossed our minds before.
It’s hardly surprising many business owners are feeling overwhelmed. Today we hope to lighten the load with an easy to follow checklist of to do’s to get your business safely open once again.
How can you be sure you’re truly ready to re-open? Follow along with our re-opening checklist.
Pre-Opening - Know the rules
While you gear up to reopening, it’s important to keep abreast of the latest guidance for your area. Knowing this intimately will help you navigate the new normal with confidence. It will also boost your understanding of your new unique selling propositions. When reading up, focus on what these could be and how you can communicate them to your guests so they can be confident they know what to expect during their stay.
The Visit Britain website has a wealth of information specifically for Tourism businesses. It links through to the Government website but is far easier to navigate. The Scottish Government Business Support website has sector specific advice available here.
Pre-Opening - Switch your marketing mindset
Coronavirus has changed everyone’s priorities, so what once were selling points for your business could now put people off. A cosy atmospheric bar, or a central bustling location, should no longer be the focus of your marketing.
Review your business, website and social media channels and think about how you want guests to feel about your hotel or resort post-coronavirus.You will need to refocus on experiences that are physical distancing friendly.
Reassess what your guest experience is going to be, and document it. This will be the basis for both how you adapt your operations and how you will promote those operations in your marketing efforts.
Pre-Opening - Adapt your business practices
With your reassessment fresh in your mind, it’s time to make sure all your business practices are aligned with it and the COVID guidance. Areas to address include:
- Check-in, check-out, housekeeping, guest/staff interactions, guest/guest interactions, guest rooms, common spaces, amenities. Everything.
- For every aspect of your property, think about what is changing, why it’s changing, and how (operationally) it will change, and document each of those items thoroughly.
- You may not roll each of these what/why/how statements into your re-opening messaging, but you’ll want them on-hand as you communicate with prospective guests
- Keep this front-of-mind as you develop re-opening promotions.
Pre-Opening - Time to strategise
The new normal requires a new marketing strategy. It is good to get this lined up even if you don’t know exactly when you are reopening, as being ready and able to hit “go” with little notice will help you immensely.
Your strategy simply needs to describe how you’re going to engage with your target consumer - it is not yet a detailed plan of how you’ll execute on that strategy. Think of it like a guideline that helps you to judge the appropriateness of various marketing tactics.
Imminent re-opening - Get tactical
It’s best to do this when you know your opening date so you can get good and specific.
Consider your new normal, read up on the marketing techniques that are working well at the moment, and work out how to incorporate these together in your plan
Make sure you consider the season people are looking to book for and ensure your messaging and creative is suitable. E.g. if travellers are looking at Autumnal stays, focus your marketing efforts around the attractions at this time of year.
Think about how you can build the confidence and trust of potential customers. Several of our clients have got the ‘We’re Good to Go’ accreditation. This is the official UK mark to signal that a tourism and hospitality business has worked hard to follow Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines and has a process in place to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing. You can apply for the mark online here.
Once you have the mark, let people know in your marketing communications.
During re-opening - Make the updates
Do a sweep across every profile you have to ensure your hotel or resort is listed as open and that your business hours and offerings are up-to-date. Make sure to include your website, social media pages, Google my Business, Apple maps and Tripadvisor. If you turned off notifications for any of these, turn them back on so you can respond to enquiries promptly.
Detail your COVID practices on your website and in your marketing materials. Some great examples of this can be see on Glenalmond House Edinburgh, Derrybeg B&B, Knockendarroch (in particular their ‘more interesting enhancements’)
If there is specific advice for your industry, including a link to it will show you are fully informed and wish your customers to be too.
After re-opening - Review and adapt as you find your way
It will be important to be highly perceptive of the experience of both your guests and staff and use insight gained to guide your actions going forward. The process isn’t likely to be plain sailing, but if you stay on top of guest opinions you’ll be able to pivot as needed—which is key when re-opening in the wake of a crisis no one saw coming.
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