“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. It’s an overused quote, but right now it’s spot on. With the coronavirus pandemic taking a sledgehammer to our 2020 plans, serviced apartments and co-living companies need to focus on their business model, revenue streams, reputation and internal processes to successfully prepare for the post-lockdown world. Here’s our five top tips.
Solidify your reputation
As we leave lockdown, brand strength will be increasingly vital as customers take less risks and book with those they trust. Companies should no longer rely on OTAs for bookings and must use their name, reputation and service to pull in customers.
Firstly, brands must be visible online. A two-pronged attack of SEO-boosting content - think keywords, addresses and contact information on site - as well as messaging that chimes with the public mood - dedication to cleanliness and customer support, for example - are paramount.
Secondly, companies should reassure consumers with ‘hard evidence’. From signing up to a cleanliness accreditation scheme that best fits your brand, such as ASAP’s ‘Stay with Confidence’ or Quality in Tourism’s safe, clean and legal protocols, and publishing new Covid-safety protocols to offering real-time housekeeping updates and real-person support hotlines, providing ‘proof’ of your commitment to customers’ concerns will enhance your brand and improve consumer confidence.
Ensure this is front and centre in your messaging.
Highlight your benefits
Post-Covid, hotels will look to encroach on the serviced apartments space by offering a less interaction-heavy service, but why have an imitation when you can have the real McCoy?
‘Innovative Living’ companies need to market their differences and benefits for post-lockdown clients. Think contactless check-in, private space, cashless transactions and less staff on site. Personal desks, fast internet and self-service amenities for those ‘working for home’. Although privacy will be key, co-living companies that take special precautions - guest screening, automated cleaning schedules, emergency on site support - will also have an advantage over competitors.
Diversify your business
All these customers will need places to stay; places with their own clean, personal space. Canny businesses must therefore offer a variety of leisure and business-travel based units, as well as a mixture of short and long stays to pick up these bookings and future-proof revenue.
A blend of unit types and stay durations caters for summer holidays and longer leisure moves (i.e. those wanting to try something new without the commitment). It accommodates domestic contractors and relocators. It provides flexibility and improves business resilience.
Focus on the right clients
Who are you selling to? In the short-to-medium term, there will be a large reduction in international and unnecessary travel. No more conferences, much less flights.
Instead, companies must target customers who ‘need’ to travel. In the business sphere, this includes workers who collaborate for their work and have unique workplaces - scientists performing lab work, on-site management consultants - as well as Monday-Thursday domestic contractors.
The same rule applies to leisure travel and relocation. Young people are less susceptible to the virus and more likely to live in smaller apartments. Their ‘need’ to travel is greater than other customer segments. In addition, families that needed to relocate pre-lockdown will likely still need to relocate post-lockdown.
Ensure you have the tools
What’s the easiest way to achieve tips 1-4? Move to a unified, data-led platform.
Centralised systems provide remote oversight over diverse units, stays, locations, personnel and clients. They enable up-to-the-minute reporting on housekeeping and maintenance. They improve decision-making on pricing and channel distribution. They drive business performance and simplify customer experience management.
But, most importantly in the post-Covid world, consolidated platforms allow operators to prepare themselves for future success while minimising human interaction. There’s a reason Benjamin Franklin’s quote is so used: it’s proven time and again.
He would probably have told you to use res:harmonics too!