With South Africa’s tourism industry yet again receiving a massive blow, and establishments being forced to stay shut for leisure travel, it’s been very hard on us all to remain afloat and survive these unprecedented times. Even so, it remains ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL for establishments to stay in touch with their guests and potential guests for not only maintaining brand awareness but also reassuring them, making them feel appreciated and giving them the confidence to rebook when recovery happens.

To help you along the way, we have compiled some ways on how to achieve this.

1. Keep the Conversation with Your Guests Going
If you are wanting to emerge from this pandemic successfully, now is not the time to go silent and wait it out. Establishments should be communicating with guests, creating vital reassurances for the future. Using your database to send informative emails on how you are dealing with the current situation, how you are adapting to change and you will be conducting business in the future is key to remain present in the minds of potential bookers.

2. Share Your Brand Story for Engagement
Good storytelling should be at the core of all establishments’ branding, creating a clear picture of what sets them apart from their competitors. It is also a great way to build lasting loyalty among visitors and followers alike, which proves to be profitable in the long run. Just because your establishment is closed, doesn’t mean you should stop sharing your story, mixing it up a little with your response to Covid-19. Social Media has never been more important, and by creating engaging content on Facebook and Instagram, you can continue to connect with your guests, even while your establishment is closed.

3. Make sure Loyal Guests Receive Added Value
Establishments should always offer their loyal clients the best value, now more so than ever. Continuing to reward loyal guests for future travel is paramount to keeping them loyal. Consider special offers, vouchers, flexible cancellation, or upgrades for future bookings to ensure they will always choose you when they travel. You can also reward your guests by offering virtual experiences by creating videos of your chef cooking the most popular dish or your gym manager putting together a workout for example. Videos also make excellent content for newsletters, Social Media, blogs and your website.

4. Keep Guests Updated on Your Covid-19 Response
The most essential part of communication with guests during lockdown is on how you are managing and responding appropriately to COVID-19. Are your hygiene measures in place? Are you managing in-depth cleaning and are you adhering to social-distancing policies as prescribed by the government? This ensures valuable authority adds reassurance that you are on top of the current state of affairs as well as well prepared for the new normal, which in turn will give the guest confidence to return once allowed. Consistent communication on the topic is extremely important in order to avoid it seeming like an after-thought once the full operation is allowed.

5. Target Guests with Personalised Messaging
Based on your collected data, now is the perfect time to put it to good use, by implementing specific segments. Make sure you review your data in detail in order to make sure your marketing strategies are as effective as possible. It would also be a good idea to create a new targeted group consisting of guests who have canceled due to the pandemic. Give them the first option on time-limited booking offers, subscriber-only vouchers, etc. Make sure to keep engaging with them through various channels to make sure they rebook.

Right now, for most of us, recovery sounds like an impossibility, but it will come. Establishments that have remained active and managed great communication with their guests will be sure to come out on top, so make sure you are following the above steps in order to be one of the successful survivors!