Reinvention and responsiveness: non-negotiables for small operators in a post-COVID world

Businesses are always in motion. And, each day, in spite of external circumstances, they beg the (not always conscious) question: are we moving forward, or backwards, today?

As we continue through a period of endless change, having the drive to remain responsive as a hotelier will prove a key determinant of success.

This is where smaller hotels have an advantage over their larger counterparts. Rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all approach to certain issues, smaller operators have the ability to very quickly evolve and adapt. They can be nimble, step away from the script and speedily enhance ops to meet the changing needs of their guests.

Below are four examples of how this way of thinking could manifest in our current context:


   1. Take the time to contemplate creatively


Small independent hotels are renowned and celebrated for their uniqueness. While programs such as extended stays, temporary offices, alternative rewards programs and gift certificates have been cleverly rolled out around the world, a point of difference can come by adding a level of creativity, distinct to your business and approach, into your offerings.

Get playful with how your F&B is being delivered, create unlikely collaborations within the local community, and reconnect with your guests on social media if you haven’t already done so. By being interested in remaining interesting, a greater level of respect can be fortified with your customers, and it will be worth it.


   2. Utilise smart technology to go contactless


In recent months there has been an increased push for hotels to become more and more contactless at check-in to promote safety.

Some hotels have gone so far as to create a no-touch experience all the way from the airport to the hotel room, while others have removed pens, notebooks and even coffee makers from rooms. Sigh.

Vital to doing this well is having the right technology in place to support the process, which is where something like the Hotel App Store can provide a useful range of tools.


   3. Shake up your pricing and messaging to focus on domestic guests


As international travel crawls into motion in the UK, remaining at less than 10% of all bookings until October according to the World Hotel Index, a review of all of your marketing content will be necessary to ensure that you aren’t wasting time in the wrong areas. This means channels like your email, website, and socials should undergo a thorough overhaul, to ensure that they better appeal to local travellers, if you haven’t made these changes already.

With a number of variables at play in the realm of pricing, it will also be important to keep an eye out for what your competitors are doing, to protect against under or overselling yourself, and real-time market insights will be essential here.


   4. Be genuinely open to change


Ultimately, the spirit of independent hotels is one of entrepreneurship, something that comes more naturally to some businesses than others. However, by not being afraid to experiment with tweaks, and by remaining nimble, there’s an opportunity to take consistent steps forward into a new phase of your business’s journey. An exciting prospect.

COVID-19 has forced reinvention onto many small accommodation providers, and it won’t have always been comfortable for you. However, if this next phase is approached with ongoing responsiveness in mind, perhaps the post-COVID period will be one that drives the change you never considered, but that your guests have searched for nonetheless.

By James Bishop, Senior Director, Global Demand Partnerships at SiteMinder