With many of our clients making the decision to close this week, we’ve looked again at how we can help and support hotels navigating the deeply concerning coronavirus situation.
SK Chase works within the hospitality sector, where we work together with over 300 luxury hotels & resorts, providing the software and service that enables them to successfully sell their gift ‘experiences’ online; think idyllic afternoon teas, luxurious spa days, intimate dining experiences in signature & destination restaurants, dreamy overnight stays and the gift of choice, with a monetary gift voucher.
Our pricing is a commission based model (we believe in being successful together – the more we help our client grow their sales, the more we grow), with no set up fee, enabling hotels to receive payment (less commission) in full for any gift voucher sales made, as well as being able to create and issue complimentary vouchers of any value.
Recent days and weeks have been and will continue to be challenging for our community, as hotels look for ways to navigate this dynamic environment, reassure & retain their customers and boost incremental revenue and cashflow where they can. We’re here to help and support our hotel clients, partners and & friends as they find their way in this unique situation.
We advise that our hotel clients keep marketing gift vouchers and voucher offers through this uncertain time, offering helpful & hopeful solutions, adapting their offering, message and validity as needed.
SEEKING JOY AND GIFTING ‘HOPE’
Gift giving is so special – it connects individuals, in a meaningful way. When people buy a gift they are expressing love, thought and gratitude, and this remains unchanged. Our society will continue to seek out things that bring joy – there are still birthdays, anniversaries, congratulations, thank you’s, and people looking for ideas to lift the spirits (particularly of those in isolation) – and we’ll continue to give generously and buy gifts for these reasons and more.
With that in mind, we advocate that hotels remind their customers that although the hotel may be closed, they can still purchase gift vouchers for a future experience to look forward to (with the long lasting memories that live afterwards).
Here are some ideas of positive messages to include in any campaigns / posts, (which can be reflected on a hotel’s gift site too).
- Send love via email
- Brighten up their day with a luxury treat
- Let’s look forward to celebrating together
- Get ready for the good times to come back around
PROMOTE GIFT ‘EXPERIENCE’ BENEFITS
Highlight the many benefits of buying gift vouchers as presents at this time, such as shopping from the comfort of your own home, the delivery being taken care of, with the choice of an exquisitely presented voucher that arrives in the post or instant eVoucher delivery with no need to see people to give them their gift #StayHomeSaveLives
CONSIDER CREATING NEW EXPERIENCES / CAMPAIGNS
Here are some ideas:
- A voucher that includes a spa day, afternoon tea and prosecco, for the ‘Perfect catch up once we can socialise again‘.
- ‘Thinking of you’ spa treatment voucher, that would be lovely to receive now (people often enjoy receiving something that relates to what is happening in the current moment) and enjoyed later.
- A voucher for a group of family or friends to get together and celebrate, such as a girly afternoon or a family lunch (a great ‘Easter’ gift) or get-together.
- An experience for a new Mum & Dad; with new parents not being able to have any visitors after the birth of their baby, a gift experience to look forward to makes the perfect gift.
- Create ‘live’ content on social media to remain in people’s mind while at home and connect with them, such as an online masterclass with the hotel chef, sommelier, tea master or spa therapist & mention that this may also be purchased as a voucher for when people are able to to come in experience this for themselves.
- Consider also creating a campaign / voucher / promotional code for key workers to say ‘thank you’ and give them some relaxation to look forward to.
- A ‘For when you come back‘ or ‘We can’t wait to see you again‘ campaign sharing a special discount to encourage customers to purchase a gift voucher now, which can be ‘saved’ and enjoyed at a later date
CREATE VOUCHER ‘OFFERS’
We recommend that our clients use their gift voucher software and shop to create and promote voucher ‘offers’, which can help fill the hotel during quieter periods and times. Offers are most often purchased by the buyer to use for personal use, so consider marketing locally. For example, a limited availability 25% Off a Spa and/or Golf Overnight Stay Package, with restrictions around when they may be redeemed i.e. midweek only.
Consider also when customers are likely to want to redeem their experience i.e. have a shorter redemption window (such as six months), but do not restrict it to too small a period, such as three months, as it is unlikely that people will wish (or be able to) to redeem their voucher within the next 12 weeks.
We also urge hotels to ‘price match’ the various deals sites that they are listed on, promoting the offers on their own site to encourage direct sales – which will cost them less.
SHOW FLEXIBILITY & GOODWILL
Hotel gift vouchers usually have one year’s validity, where the gift recipient has 12 months to book and then enjoy their experience. Our system makes it easy for clients to extend current validities (for example to 18 months) grace periods and/or create new ones and we are also happy to action this on our clients’ behalf. In addition to this, we recommend a more relaxed approach to cancellations, placing an emphasis on flexible cancellation options when people book their experience.
We recommend reviewing your own hotel website, ensuring that gift vouchers are a predominant feature. Consider adding a new call to action i.e. ‘Buy a Gift’ alongside or instead of ‘Book Now’, until you know when you are going to open again.
Hotels can reach a wider and new audience by seeking our new gift voucher distribution channels. We have partnerships in place with AfternoonTea.co.uk, Bruncher and GiftRound, where our clients are able to list and sell selected gift vouchers on these websites, via the gift voucher software they currently use, with no set-up fee – they simply pay a commission on any orders made.
If you use a PR agency, share a piece on your gift vouchers, with a link to your gift site – it could be birthday gifts, New Mums, Father’s Day. Online Event Vouchers or any new vouchers you have created.
A NOTE ON CANCELLATIONS
Whilst some guests may wish to cancel their room or event reservation in full, there will also be guests that will be happy to have the option of receiving a monetary eVoucher that covers the cost (either in full or in part) of their booking which they can then look forward to enjoying in the future, thereby helping ‘retain’ the guest. Guests can either purchase the voucher themselves online (perhaps with the incentive of a promotional code to thank them for ‘retaining’ their booking), or a member of staff can process a complimentary voucher (we don’t charge any commission on complimentary vouchers if processed at zero value).
By doing either of these options the hotel receives / retains the revenue and the guest receives a lovely eVoucher, detailing the amount they are ‘in credit’ with the hotel, with the promise of a returning visit in the future, secured with the knowledge that they have already set aside the money for it.
We recommend that our clients also reach out to those customers who have already cancelled with this message too
Hotels can also add a message to their booking engine page, when a customer has cancelled online, sharing a promotional code and again directing them to their monetary gift page to buy a voucher for future use or by asking them to get in touch (so the hotel can issue a complimentary voucher).
It is also worth considering amending certain cancellation policies over the next few months, to add in that should the guest wish to cancel, they will receive a monetary voucher to use at a later date.
HELPFUL AND HOPEFUL MARKETING
So keep offering helpful gifting solutions during this time, sharing lightness, inspiration & love.