Recent global events have been a stark reminder of the volatility of our tourism industry. While we know sudden downturns can be a stressful and uncertain time, knowing how to make the best use of your time during quiet periods or low season can make all the difference in how well your accommodation business fares, and how well prepared you are for the busier times.
Even at times of uncertainty, when it feels like things are out of control, there are some ways that you can feel productive.
If your business suddenly turns quiet, the key thing to focus on is using this time to work ON your business to prepare for the next economic up-turn. Now is the time to think about the future, and what you need to put in place in order to be in the best position for success.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
Review your marketing plan
When times are tight, look to how you can leverage your existing platforms to continue to reach people in the most effective way. This is where an email database is invaluable. Create targeted communications using segmented audiences. At times when travel may be limited, as it is during the Covid-19 pandemic, having the ability to continue to communicate with a local audience will be invaluable. In a downturn, digital marketing will be your most beneficial approach. It’s measurable, scalable and strategic, giving you the best bang for your marketing buck. Consider campaigns that re-incentivise bookings and promote the benefits of visiting your local area.
Put lean systems in place
Trying to implement new systems at the height of your busy periods causes stress and confusion. Use your downtime to review how existing workflows could be improved and streamlined, and consider automating parts of your process. It gives you the opportunity to work out any kinks or niggles before these new systems are put under pressure when bookings pick up again.
It’s also a good time to consider whether existing partnerships and agreements are still beneficial to your business or if there are ways that you could either be cutting costs, or choosing organisations who better align with your business values. Some businesses may choose to establish partnerships with suppliers who are closer to home to ensure continuity of supply at times when access to offshore suppliers is compromised or in order to support local trade.
Have clear communications
Customers feel comfortable when they are informed with clear, simple communications. Maintain good communication with your existing bookings, to make them feel welcome and to keep them informed of any changes that may be happening in your business, or in the local area that they should be aware of. A good platform will allow you to create targeted emails, so you’re reaching the right audience, at the right time.
Review budgets and business plan
Having a plan is important, but you never know when unexpected events could force you to pivot. While it’s not ideal, when change is forced upon you, try to consider it as an opportunity to re-think the way you manage your business or the services you offer. Review financial data, and be open to implementing short-and-mid-term business models that may allow you to maintain turnover in the interim.
Support your community
When times are tough, reach out to your community – other local businesses and others in your industry. Consider how you can all support each other, and don’t forget to tell your community how they can best support you too. Mutually beneficial joint initiatives or reciprocal partnerships with strategic local vendors and businesses become good opportunities for marketing, cross-promotion, and referrals.
Above all, use your time to also take care of your own wellbeing, and that of your staff. Downturns are stressful, particularly in uncertain times, but with some structure and planning, you can continue to invest time and resources proactively and productively in your business that will leave you set up for future success.
About the author
Amelia Gain is Preno’s CEO and Co-Founder. As a former hotelier, she enjoys writing about the latest hotel industry news and trends.