The travel industry was on a consistent rise before COVID-19 hit. Two of the most profitable segments that contributed to that growth were corporate transient business and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) travellers. Global corporate business travel is a billion dollar industry: amounting to 1.28 billion US dollars in 2019 alone. Business travellers give hotels a high potential to earn because they typically spend more a night and are in a higher income demographic. But what can hoteliers do in light of a crisis where this segment is severely impacted? Continue reading to find out five tips for growing corporate transient business and MICE travellers at your hotel during the pandemic.
1 – Start With Digital Marketing
With the shift in schedules and work-from-home now becoming the norm, digital marketing is a great place to start when considering how to win future MICE and corporate transient business. Organizations everywhere are ramping up their digital marketing programs to better prepare themselves as markets reopen.
Here are 5 tips to consider for digital marketing during a crisis:
1 – Transparency and professionalism
The utmost concern for all travellers now is their safety. Show your potential guests what you’re doing to ensure a safe and hygienic environment. What measures, policies, and procedures have your hotel implemented to sustain social distancing and sanitization?
2 – Know who you’re selling to
The jobs of event planners and corporate travel managers have shifted 180 since the pandemic. What are their obstacles, responsibilities and priorities now? How has their job duties evolved through COVID-19?
3 – Make the experience virtual
Hotel site visits have become challenging nowadays but not impossible. Provide virtual tours, videos and 3D diagramming for prospective clients that they can experience from the comfort and safety of their own home.
4 – Consistent communication
We live in an information age. Constantly updating your FAQ page or a pandemic preparedness section of your website as new restrictions and regulations evolve are essential to keep everyone on the same page and ensure your guests know that you’re doing everything possible at your establishment to ensure everyone’s comfort and safety.
5 – Become a subject matter expert
Stay informed on the WHO’s planning recommendations for mass gatherings so you can work with your event planners to ensure your property can meet those expectations.
2 – Get Digitally Visible
It’s as simple as 1+1=2. If you want to win more corporate transient business, then you have to get in front of more corporate customers. However, actually getting in front of more customers is a little harder than it looks.
In the past, this could look like huge conventions, trade shows and meetings where you could meet buyers face to face and network. Since that option isn’t so viable right now, let’s shift to your online presence.
Now is the take advantage of the time you have by building your online presence by driving up your SEO. This makes your hotel more visible when people search up keywords that are likely to be associated with your hotel. Being on the first page of google will ensure your exposure is dramatically increased. Search Engine Watch found that only 5% of people will go to the second page of results. There are numerous ways to do this like creating content like a blog or a social media strategy. Find out more about hotel SEO here.
Getting your hotel listed at the top of a results page on Google will significantly increase your visibility, traffic and result in more leads, increasing your chances of landing more revenue.
3 – Get Visible, Even When Buyers Aren’t Looking For You
What does this mean? It means: GET BIDDING. You lose out on 100% of all the bids you don’t make. An essential component of a successful hotel sales strategy is winning requests for (MICE and corporate transient business) proposals, also known as RFPs.
But, what if you’re not receiving RFPS?
Electronic automated RFP systems have significantly impacted the way many organizations source hotel rooms and meeting space.
Getting your hotel listed and your search placement optimized on these systems will increase the number of high quality RFPS your property will receive, even why buyers aren’t specifically targeting you.
4 – Make It Easy To Do Business With You
More often than not, convenience and easy > cost. Think of it this way: why do you insist on ordering on a food service delivery app, even though you are fully aware of the additional costs and service fees associated with your order? Why not just simply go and pick it up from the restaurant and save yourself some money? It’s because it’s much more convenient and easy for your food to simply be delivered to your door and that time and convenience comes at a fee.
We’re applying that same concept here. As an event planner, their job is complicated enough as it is. They would prefer if a property will be able to provide everything in one place: rooms, meeting space, F&B, the works! This will save them the time of sourcing everything independently, even if by doing so, it saves some money.
Knowing this, optimize your website to provide all these details in one stop shop. Provide an update on all the details to your amenities, on-site services, and meeting spaces as well as package details upon request. Make it easy for people to do business with you and they will do business with you.
5 – Capitalize On “Bleisure” Travel
“Bleisure” is the combination of the words “business” and “leisure” and is becoming an increasingly lucrative segment of MICE and corporate transient business.
Business travellers are more and more wanting to tack on a couple of personal days to a business trip and are more willing to bring their families along. This means more opportunities for upsell, room nights, and F&B.
Develop incentives to encourage business travellers to bring their partners and families and create upsell opportunities to land more business. Things like spa services for one partner while the other is at the convention.
Hotels that are located in bigger destinations with much to offer typically benefit from bleisure travel. Building partnerships with the local tourism board, restaurant groups and local businesses are a great place to start for hotels that want to promote their city as a great place to spend a few days after their business function.
Connecting with business travellers early is also essential. You’ll want to connect with them while they’re planning so they have time to make the right logistics decisions and plan with their families, this will also give you more time to convince them to stay a little longer.
A modern CRM will really help you manage your prospects by automating emails and offers and allowing for direct contact with your guest.
Things may seem dire right now and thinking of winning future MICE and corporate transient business may seem daunting, but the inputs you do now will result in future gains. This is a time to assess, evaluate, plan, and strategize to ensure your property comes out on top while the industry recovers.