Reassuring guests during COVID-19: How to write a travel update
How you react during COVID-19 will speak volumes to your guests and will help maintain your online presence and ongoing marketing efforts. From a hotelier’s perspective, it’s important to provide your guests with up-to-date information to maintain a positive relationship.
In this time of crisis, your guests want to know the status of their reservation and what your hotel is doing in response to COVID-19. Health and safety is the top concern for everyone, and that includes past, present, and future guests as well as employees.
Invest in your future now. Here are some strategies to write your initial statement, and how to keep that conversation going to ensure a faster rebound.
How to Structure Your Statement
The goal of your COVID-19 statement is to inform your guests of the status of their reservations and reassure them of your safety measures. Your statement should be agreed upon and communicated through every channel, including your website, social media, sales staff, and any one-to-one communication you have with guests.
Here are our recommendations for how to structure your Travel Update:
Your Commitment to Your Guests
Your first priority is and has always been your guests. Let them know that the actions you’re taking are for their health and safety.
Building and Staff Precautions
What health and safety precautions is your hotel taking? The main one could be halting any new reservations at this time. Other areas you could share could include:
- The cleaning products your staff is using
- How public spaces are being cleaned
- How the back of the house is kept sanitary
- The precautions and behavior of staff to limit contact
- Any reported cases at hotel to date
Hotel Cancellation Policy
This could be the number one reason travelers are looking to you right now. Share as many details as possible to reassure your customers, and focus on credits over cancellations. The more flexible your policy is, the more appreciative your guests will be.
- Cancellations for individual reservations prior to April 30
- Reservations after April 30
- Group booking policy
- How to contact your reservations team, by phone, email, or a specific contact page
You’re Actively Monitoring the Situation
You’re following the news and will be the first to let them know when policies change. Helpful links could include WHO, CDC Travel Advisory, and your state’s department of health website.
COVID-19 and Your Hotel FAQ Page
Time is short at hand. Instead of writing your own statement or leaving your staff to answer the same questions all day long, create a simple FAQ page to provide your guests with the information they’re looking for.
- How long will the hotel be closed?
- What is the hotel’s cancellation policy?
- Can I reschedule my reservation for a later date?
- What is the hotel doing right now for health and safety?
- What is hotel doing to protect employees?
- I booked my reservation through a third-party vendor; can you help me?
- Can I cancel my planned event at hotel’s venue?
- How do I contact guest reservations?
Example Travel Update Pages
Branded hotels should be reaching out to their Regional Reps for messaging. IHG has a dedicated Travel Advisory for their hotels to share. https://www.ihg.com/content/us/en/customer-care/travel-advisory
Wyndham Boca Raton keeps their Travel Update page current with issue dates, and contact information for guests with cancelled reservations. https://www.wyndhamboca.com/covid-19.html
Superior Oasis Hotels kept their message personal with a letter from the owners: Comfort Suites Marquette
Independent property Irving House detailed the exact actions they were taking for the health and safety of their guests and employees. https://www.irvinghouse.com/covid-19-update-on-our-operations.html
Your statement can be brief, with a focus on closure and potential reopening date. https://www.thebreakers.com/travelupdate/
The time to react is now. Reassure your customers, discourage the number of cancellations, and maintain a positive brand image. Creating clear, consistent communication is key.
Read our additional marketing strategies for hotels looking to get ahead and stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis.