Kristi White and special guest Jason Freed, founder and editor of Hotel Recovery 2020 discussed a number of topics including how the industry is changing the way it consumes data, why we should not benchmark against 2019, and how his new venture turned into a website that provides data to help hotels with recovery efforts.
Jason is a former newspaper journalist with extensive background in the hospitality industry including his time with Hotel News Now, Hotel Management and his nearly 5-year stint as Director of Marketing Communications with Duetto. In the beginning of 2020, Jason began a new publication with the hopes of providing creative and engaging content for the hospitality industry. Then COVID hit and he pivoted his new site into Hotel Recovery 2020.
Since April, he has been managing the site and a team of editors with the goal of helping hoteliers survive an unprecedented downturn by staying informed. Jason said, “I thought, what can I do to help? This is not going away, so I decided to create a website and a subsequent newsletter to highlight data, tips and best practices in order to provide hotels with tangible suggestions to get through this time, mitigate risk, and get back to business.”
Key topics discussed included:
The type of data is the most in-demand today and why – Jason called out several topics that his audience resonates with including any content that mentioned Google (interest on its effect on travel and distribution has skyrocketed) as well as the data the website aggregates in its “Who’s Pitching In” section. People want to feel good and hear positive news.
A survey Hotel Recovery 2020 is currently conducting to his 7000 subscribers – Jason and team are currently working on a survey that was originally meant to help him gain better insight into the types of readers accessing the information and how to better provide the appropriate content. However, the survey also asks key questions such as Strategies that People are Using to Capture Demand (48% see flexibility with cancellation policy as a #1 strategy, while 38% are marketing to the local drive market.) The plan is to make this data available to the market once it is completed. If you would like to participate, go to https://www.getfeedback.com/r/YnyuW2yQ/q/0.
Putting service back into hospitality while wearing masks – The discussion turned to the idea that perhaps COVID, the masks, the plexiglass and reduced staff are taking the “Service” out of customer service. Both agreed that steps need to be taken to ensure that the customer still feels the level of service they are accustomed to, even if it looks different. Multiple touchpoints in communicating with the guest, before, during and after the stay, are critical to ensuring they return to your hotel in the future.
Some interesting comments came up during the discussion surrounding the strategy of lowering rate with many attendees agreeing that “lowering rates will not drive occupancy.”
Finally, the two agreed that this challenge has reset the industry and we should stop trying to compare revenue to that of 2019, when the industry was at its height of success. Both agreed that large “Salesforce” type conferences will probably not return for several years, but smaller, intimate, group meetings will begin happening sooner than later, likely by summer 2021.