10 tips for boutique hotels during covid-19 crisis

The travel industry is going through unprecedented challenges. The news and regulations related to the pandemic are constantly changing. Hospitality professionals may feel lost on how to navigate through this storm.

To help you through these times we have compiled ten tips to help you navigate with your boutique hotels during covid-19 crisis.

1. Manage cancellations carefully

Give vouchers instead of full cancellation refunds. But who would like to take a simple voucher, right? Consider increasing the voucher’s value by 5 to 15% for any future reservations. Whatever you do, be empathetic towards your customers.

2. Keep the focus on your team

It is paramount to keep the lines of communication open with your employees, whether they are locked at home or still present at the hotel. Arrange for regular team meetings – even remotely – to offer updates and listen to their concerns. If you have to come to tough decisions for layoffs, do so with empathy. You may try to offer as much help as possible: assistance to negotiate a rent payment delay, recommendation letters, sharing the perishable stock of food. Anything that proves that you really care!
It is essential for boutique hotels to leverage the authentic and human values that are the segment’s DNA.

3. Avoid public discounts at all costs

It is important to avoid panicking and start dropping your prices low to entice travellers. People are simply not travelling now. They are not price-sensitive (while this doesn’t mean that a future recession will not drive them down that path). Make sure you are aligned with your market in terms of pricing, and don’t be the first to open the race to lower price!

4. Offer more value to the guests

If you still want to offer discounts, consider working with preferred partners and offering them sharper discounts to smaller and more targeted groups of guests. This can be in the form of free upgrades, free meals, airport pickup etc. Communicate to customers about packages or free perks in a way that makes them feel special.

5. Extend your operating season

Most hotels have already lost 3-5 weeks of revenue, you may consider extending your operating season. If you were planning to close the hotel at the end of October for instance, consider extending the period and open it up for sales.
Keep in mind that in the middle of any difficulty lies opportunity
6. Open up your inventory for 2021
Many travellers are already dreaming of having a nice vacation, next year. Be present ! You just need to spend some more time to revise your pricing policy for the next season. We highly advise against sharp increases in daily rates – unless you see a rapid increase in 2021 bookings.

7. Ensure your Boutique Hotel is present

The travel industry is totally paralyzed. But people are more than ever dreaming about their next trips, under the stay-at-home mandates. Make sure your hotel comes to their minds when they are about to travel again. Keep up with your marketing but it is essential to adapt your marketing messages to match the current mood.

8. Leverage all potential resources

Make sure you are aware of all the aid plans and be ready to apply where applicable. From government funds to help small businesses go through the COVID19 crisis to crowdfunding initiatives to support targeted projects, be open to the different options around you. Why not start your own campaign to support the independent tourism structure in your region?

9. Communicate with authenticity

Have you seen Marriott’s CEO video? It’s a remarkable example of leadership, acclaimed beyond the hospitality industry. The main key there? Authenticity! In a space where we are overwhelmed with information, it is essential for boutique hotels to leverage the authentic and human values that are the segment’s DNA. Whether in your communications with your staff, emails sent to your marketing mailing list, or a video posted on your social media, feel free to say how your hotel is coping with the crisis. Be honest with your audience. It’s right to show vulnerability while talking about your contingency plan.

10. Prepare to bounce back

As we all have to make (tough) decisions today, we shouldn’t lose track of the actual goal and the long term plan. The crisis is deep and may last for weeks or longer. But get ready to bounce back! You can anticipate seasonal hiring: leverage the new online tools to create a list of qualified seasonal stuff. Do some (online) interviews now and place some tentative (subject to the world keep spinning) offers. Check also potential new partnerships, suppliers… Keep in mind that in the middle of any difficulty lies opportunity.

And remember… stay safe, stay positive and be optimistic.
We are all on this together!
If there’s something specific we can help you with please don’t hesitate to drop us an email at info@theboutique.com, we are here to help!