The future is never certain, but this feels never more so than in the present time, with the deeply concerning worldwide coronavirus situation, with news and advice on what to do changing by the day and hour.
SK Chase works within the hospitality sector, where we work together with over 300 luxury hotels, providing the software and service that enables them to successfully sell their gift ‘experiences’ online.
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 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 recommend reiterating and reassuring your customers (and potential customers) that in addition to your usual high hygiene and cleaning standards, any additional precautionary measures that have been introduced to ensure guest safety. These may include the deep cleaning of rooms and other areas, reassurance of regular hand washing, staff advised to not come in to work and self-isolate if unwell (with paid sick leave), maintaining a social distancing policy (2 metres apart) with each other and guests (where possible) and the opportunity to be cashless and pay with card only.
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 / 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.
PROMOTE GIFT ‘EXPERIENCE’ BENEFITS
Continue to promote gift experiences, highlighting all the benefits of buying gift vouchers as presents, such as shopping from the comfort of your own home, the delivery being taken care of (with no need to see people to give them their gift), the choice of an exquisitely presented voucher that arrives in the post or instant eVoucher delivery, highlighting this in your copy, such as ‘Send love via email’ and ‘Brighten up their day with a luxury treat’ And of course, there is the excitement of looking forward to the date of the experience (in the future), the day itself and then the long-lasting memories that live afterwards.
CREATE VOUCHER ‘OFFERS’
We recommend that our clients use their gift voucher software and shop to also 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 not restrict it to too short a period, such as three months, as it is unlikely that people will wish (or perhaps not 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.
Think about each of your market segments, both for gift vouchers and voucher offers and consider how you can ‘tweak’ your offerings, empathising with your customers’ thoughts, feelings and subsequent actions during this time; i.e. people are veering away from using public transport and many wish to stay close to home.
Think also how you can seek out additional revenue in creative ways, such as a voucher offer for an overnight stay, with breakfast and £50 credit towards your restaurant or spa
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 via these websites, via the gift voucher software they currently use, with no set-up fee – they simply pay a commission on any orders made.
IT’S BETTER TO LOOK UP
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the rapid escalation of the virus and by the amount of information around about it. Unexpected things are always going to happen in business and in life and often the only control we have is how we choose to handle them. We all have a common purpose – to navigate this together: person to person, business to business, community to community. Nothing is guaranteed, but we live in hope that we can endure.