The availability of a vaccine is key to demand recovery and subsequent increase in consumer confidence to travel. Now we are facing more adversity but we can be certain of another SURGE in bookings post lockdown and demand for Staycations in 2021 will continue to rise. We have seen three key segments pacing ahead; repeat customers, domestic guests and locals. Concentrating on these segments for growth will provide a hotel with more focus in short/mid and long term planning. Staycations 2021 will continue to be the year of staycations. Hoteliers need to remember that they can’t create demand by lowering prices. Demand is now a balance of perceived value regarding safety and trust. Domestic tourism has also obviously increased given the ongoing travel restrictions. On average guests are willing to travel one hour per night, which means hoteliers can use this to promote special packages to the domestic market based on geographical booking patterns and trends. Audit Christmas packages and availability to push much earlier this year. Last year we saw a huge shift in our customer base, with almost all guests coming exclusively from domestic markets. We also saw a change in buying habits, with lead times getting shorter as uncertainty around travel remained. We updated our booking terms to offer greater flexibility so guests could book with confidence, safe in the knowledge that they could rearrange their plans if necessary. Our priority for 2021 is maintaining buyer confidence, so we are doing all we can to reassure guests of the safety measures in place for their stay and again providing the flexibility to change plans should they need to. This year we also hope to encourage longer stays, so that guests will be incentivised to travel a little further and remain for more than the standard one or two nights.Gillian Beare, Director, Finn Lough Social Responsibility There’s also a larger social responsibility expected from hoteliers in the local community. This isn’t just about giving back and engaging to build brand awareness and presence, but it will also support the green shoots of recovery should another forced closure take place. For example, collaborating and engaging with like-minded brands and local businesses. If your brand values and your target audience aligns, it’s a great way to tap into new, relevant audiences and build your guest CRM. Flexibility More hoteliers will look towards developing experience led packages designed with guest personalisation at the forefront. It will be essential to ensure booking flexibility. Turn NRF (non refundable rate) cancellations into vouchers to protect cash flow – better still ensure they’re redeemable online to reduce the manual admin. Launch spring and summer campaigns NOW. We anticipate this spring will see a higher domestic demand than normal for leisure hotels typically held back with seasons. Load 2021 prices if they have not been released yet, and even 2022 prices for international resorts. Safety We’ve noticed a further increase of almost 20% in repeat business for hoteliers from the leisure market. In times of uncertainty people want to feel safe and secure so traveling back to a place that’s familiar is more attractive. Hoteliers should engage with previous guests to unlock this potential. It is important that our guests are reassured regarding our safety procedures and we found guests that had already been with us trusted us to be COVID secure without needing to repeat the messaging over and over. What we found is that our previous guests were less interested in safety messages and more engaged with inspirational lifestyle content where they were whisked back to a place in time prior to all restrictions and were given hope of things to come and a little light at the end of the tunnel. Through regular newsletters, social media and using our loyalty scheme we saw a large increase in return bookings throughout 2020 and we are forecasting similar results for 2021.Becky Nowell, Sales Director Esplanade Hotel, Fistral Beach Hotel, Boringdon Hall and Gaia Spa Marketing Personalisation Maintain your marketing and brand visibility. Don’t lose market share over your competitors – focus your efforts on the areas with the biggest value. Invest in projects such as video or photography shoots or updates to your website. In addition to this the domestic market may become saturated once more and you still need to be competitive to attract a higher value guest and increase GOPAR. Think about creative ways to be different from your competitors: The Captain’s Club Hotel & Spa is an independent four star hotel and whilst we are in the throes of a National Pandemic it is essential that we maintain a high presence and visibility in terms of our social media and website development. During 2020 we engaged with a local company to produce “virtual tours” for our suites, spa and main bar/lounge/restaurant area. This has now been uploaded onto the website which has helped improve room bookings as people can literally see what they are buying and how unusual our suites are. During 2021 the emphasis will be on the staycation and we work closely with Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Tourism to promote that we, as a destination, are open for business and “ready to go”. We have extended the season so our published rates will be in place from 1st May right through until October as we measured this against actual demand in 2020. Above all we have used the lockdown opportunity to upgrade a number of bathrooms, replace carpets and decorate so that we have a product that will be well received and gives credence to a higher rate demandTim Lloyd, Managing Director Captains, Club Hotel Now, more than ever, hotels need to be doing what they can to maximise revenues and ensure they are taking advantage of all the elements at their disposal. Much of this centres on a creative and imaginative approach to your offering – marketing your strong points and projecting the right message to your target audience to drive demand. Read more about the marketing and sales activations and revenue activities that revenue and marketing managers can be doing in 2021. Take a look at our top tips here.