How to Prepare For the Staycation Rush: Expert Insights With HOSPA, HotStats & St Michael’s Resort

How to Prepare For the Staycation Rush: Expert Insights With HOSPA, HotStats & St Michael’s Resort

18 March 2021Kirsty Beasley

Week by week, as a nation, we’re edging one step closer towards post-lockdown life. Many people across the world are already booking their holidays, and in response, hotels are beginning to put the wheels in motion to prepare for the staycation rush.

This, of course, is nothing compared to what hotels can expect to see once lockdown ends. We’re predicting a staycation boom, particularly around desirable locations across the UK – from lively cities to peaceful coastal regions.

We’ll likely see the largest influx of bookings in a long time, given that this is the longest that many hotels have been expected to shut in decades. 

So, we collaborated with HOSPA, the hospitality professionals association, HotStats, hotel marketing benchmark specialists, and St Michael’s Resort in Falmouth to discuss how hoteliers can best prepare themselves for the post-lockdown staycation rush.

Together, we hosted an interactive webinar in which we welcomed the input of our listeners. When asked about the market demand, and when they feel it’ll be back to COVID levels, 71% of our participants responded 2022 or beyond; a fair prediction, given the amount of time that hoteliers have been out of action so far.

staycation

Recovering From a Crisis: Three Trends

Aggie, director of hotelier intelligence at HotStats, kindly walked us through her research surrounding crisis recovery. 

A P&L benchmarking platform, HotStats delivers the data it collects from the industry in the way of internal and external benchmarking, as well as market insights that it provides for hoteliers.

Highlighting three key trends in the hospitality industry, Aggie discusses how they can become an opportunity for hoteliers moving forward:

1. TRevPAR

The first one is looking at TRevPAR. It’s one of the mail KPIs – not only looking at the RevPAR of hotels but actually looking at the total and full picture; the full revenue mix.

It’s really important to look at TRevPAR as a whole and look at all of the revenue streams we’ve got available. We want to really creatively utilise the space that we have due to the lack of demand that we are facing at the moment, and building packages that will increase our TRevPAR – and in turn, our profitability.

Aggie Wojciechowska, HotStats

2. Preparing for the summer rush

Another trend we are seeing is that we’re now preparing for the summer rush. The demand in Europe and the UK is definitely leisure driven – and we can expect to see a very busy summer here. This is the segment that has been relatively resilient during the pandemic; properties on the south coast have out-performed the key cities in the UK.

The thing to remember is that, although hotels may be busy and have very high occupancy in the summer, we need to prepare how to mitigate problems that may come from the loss of revenue, which we may experience as a result of social distancing measures.

Aggie Wojciechowska, HotStats

3. Profitability

In the hotel industry, we’ve been talking about opening leaner hotels in the future. At HotStats, we’ve been looking at how the pandemic has affected the costs of hotels. On a per-occupied room basis, we’ve seen a spike in the cost of operating the property – and the costs included here are predominantly room supplies, cleaning costs, room service, etc. For four or five months, we saw a spike – but this has now stabilised and we’re returning to pre-crisis levels.

There’s a lot of evidence that we might be opening leaner hotels in the future and a lot of evidence pointing towards payroll. A lot of hotels are getting back to zero-based budgeting so that they can have an impact and really understand the cost structures of their property, and then see if they’d return to the same structure in a few months or years.

It’s really valuable now to have a look at your KPIs, performance and competitor comparisons, and use this opportunity in benchmarking to see how various cost lines and departments will affect the profitability of your property.

Aggie Wojciechowska, HotStats

Real-Life Case Study: St Michael’s Resort, Falmouth

Set on the beautiful south coast in Falmouth, St Michael’s Resort is no stranger to the summer staycation boom.

It was great to be joined by Lloyd Brock, digital marketing manager, who told us all about his team’s response to the onset of the pandemic:

It’s been a strange year for everyone in hospitality. We decided to keep our marketing team relatively intact during the first lockdown, and we focused on improving our systems.

We predicted that we may have to reduce our reservations capacity. So, we looked at our booking engine and noticed that our conversion rates on mobiles were getting lower. We looked around for the best booking engine for our needs and ended up enlisting the help of Profitroom. We were lucky enough to get the booking engine transferred over to us in time for the boom at the end of July. We’ve gone from seeing a 20% booking rate from mobile devices up to see a 50/50 split between mobile and desktop.

Lloyd Brock, St. Michael’s Resort

The Surge

Sam, our UK Market Owner at Profitroom, imparted her top tips for boosting profits after lockdown. The first port of call is looking at website traffic – or ‘The Surge’, as Sam refers to it. It’s the first chance that hotels have to respond to market demand.

Sam continues:

In our experience, total conversion (so people that land on a website and then go through to booking) sits between 1.5 and 2%. What we’re seeing at the moment, though, is total conversion levels reaching almost 4%. We noticed that every time there’s a big announcement from the Prime Minister, it really does influence direct bookings.

Sam Williams, Profitroom

When talking about refining his marketing strategy, Lloyd said:

We found out that we could look at the booking engine data for when people are searching, so we were able to see that the majority of our PPC traffic was looking to book within a six-week time period, which was fantastic, until we got to the stage where, quite quickly, we were seeing full occupancy for our summer weeks.

We started to look at which groups, channels, and audiences of our marketing campaigns were looking to book when we had availability. So, we shifted our marketing campaigns and efforts towards those channels.

Lloyd Brock, St. Michael’s Resort

What Does 2021 Look Like So Far?

increased-prepaid-rates

Sam continues:

There are a couple of statistics that really surprised me. The first one being a 23% increase in prepaid rates. Prepaid rates are your advanced purchase rates or special offers/packages that are typically non-refundable.

At Profitroom, we’ve enabled COVID-secure policies – so on the booking engine, it’s really clear that when the guest books, they can book with confidence by paying now. Should the hotel be closed or there be a restriction that impacts their booking, they can then have that valued back in terms of credit. I think that’s really helped, but I was really surprised to see that more people are paying deposits and more people are paying up front. A trend that leisure hotels can take advantage of to boost cash flows.

It was quite evident that we were seeing a drop in OTA bookings last year, and that has actually continued into this year too. I think people are now more aware of the benefits of booking direct, and they have more confidence to do so due to last year’s circumstances.

If we look at the summer months, the average booking value is 67% higher for this summer than it was for bookings last summer. There are a couple of factors: first of all, as demand increases there’s room to increase prices, but also the length of stay and package sales.

As Lloyd just mentioned, one way to make yourself unique is to include things like room service, experiences and extra elements into a stay, that you can then charge more for.

Sam Williams, Profitroom

Creating Packages to Increase Revenue

Packages are an ideal way to entice both existing and prospective customers. Here are a few of Sam’s top tips for incorporating them into a hotel marketing plan:

  • Include nearby experiences (e.g. golf);
  • Make it unique;
  • Don’t apply too many restrictions;
  • Use emotive images;
  • Clearly list all of the inclusions that you’re giving to the guest;
  • Include clear booking instructions;
  • Make sure you’re really prominent with your COVID-secure policies;
  • Keep USPs really prominent.
golf

On the other hand, it’s best to avoid:

  • Lifeless images;
  • Operational nightmares (avoid fluffy content and getting carried away with creative marketing);
  • Giving too little information;
  • Restrictive stay dates;
  • Confusing the pricing matrix;
  • Missing the target market.

On discussing the creation of packages at St Michael’s Resort, Lloyd said:

In terms of the packages we’ve put together, I wouldn’t say we’ve really changed our packages as such. What we’ve done differently is how and when we’ve marketed to that. So we’ve marketed much earlier on to those audiences, and in times previously where we would have been taking bookings for the next six weeks, we’ve been able to understand that we don’t need to advertise too hard for those next six weeks. We’re in a lucky situation where we’ve got that as traffic coming in. We’ve been putting more attention into how to target an ad audience, and getting more of those booking engine searches to increase demand.

Lloyd Brock, St. Michael’s Resort

Guest Loyalty

Staying loyal to your existing customers is, of course, just as – if not more – important as coming up with innovative strategies to attract new guests.

Sam continues to explain the importance of guest loyalty:

There’s a really unique opportunity for hotels now to not only attract a higher paying demographic but also to retain them for repeat guests and future stays. This ensures that, for years to come, hotels can still try and get some benefits from an increased ADR and sustain their business moving forward.

Furthermore, what we’ve seen from our hoteliers is that guests who do book again tend to spend more. They book the more superior types of room accommodation, and often book packages as well. During the relaunch of hospitality, with sales, marketing and revenue teams on Furlough, email marketing was one of the first activities to come back and produce bookings. It was important to keep guests and the database engaged during this time, but when you reopen, it’s your existing guests that support you first.

There are many ways to set up a loyalty scheme. Firstly, reach out to your tech partners to see how they can support you. For example, at Profitroom, we have automated emails that go out to people that have stayed, with an exclusive loyalty number. They can come back and access hidden discounts, with bespoke promotions. We can also unlock member rates. The first port of call is understanding your technology and what is available, and from there you can build on it.

Sam Williams, Profitroom

At Profitroom, we’d like to say a huge thank you to HOSPA for making this webinar possible, and to Aggie and Lloyd for imparting their invaluable knowledge alongside Sam.

hotelbookingengine

If you’d like to find out more about our services, do take a few minutes to browse our website. Alternatively, to find out more about how you can prepare for the staycation rush, do contact a member of our team using the form below.

Book a free demo
And get to know Profitroom’s award-winning solutions!
The administrator of personal data is Profitroom SA, we will process the data provided by you in order to answer the request (Article 6 paragraph 1 letter f of the GDPR). (more)

* mandatory field