Without a doubt, COVID-19 has revolutionized all aspects of our lives in a short time: our way of working, our family life, our way of shopping and relating, with others and with companies. Likewise, it has generated a generalized uncertainty about the future: concern about the job itself, the fear of getting sick, in addition to the impossibility of clearly understanding what the current situation is due to contradictory messages at the health, political and social level in the different phases and policies worldwide regarding the management of the health crisis.
This uncertainty also affects travel: quarantines at the destination, border opening calendars, airline and agency bankruptcies, restrictions on access to beaches and uncertainty about the opening of leisure sites, to give a few examples.
All these aspects have caused a state of stress, frustration and confusion that has been reflected in the way of communicating on the Internet, along with an avalanche of cancellations and loss of promoter clients.
Online communication is vital
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Social networks, opinion websites and direct online sales channels have become, in some cases, the only means of communication with companies.
In times of crisis like the ones we are experiencing right now, online communication is, therefore, key to maintaining contact with customers , even with closed hotels, to inform them about their options in case they want to make a reservation or have suffered a cancellation and on the measures that are being adopted for your safety in the reopening, showing at all times a total understanding and concern for your peace of mind.
We have gone through different phases: from the declaration of the State of alarm and the closure of some hotel services, to the repatriation of clients due to the massive cancellations of flights and border closures. All of them now added to a complicated reopening.
Despite the fact that these first phases have been managed from the hotels, the first public messages were related to the performance of the establishments in the face of the radical change in context. There were some clients, coming from countries with different anti-COVID policies, who did not understand why services such as the swimming pool, the spa or the gym were closed; some even believed it was the hotel’s decision to cut costs, while others posted fantastic reviews supporting companies and praising employees for their empathy and professionalism in sensitive and stressful times.
Reply to reviews
Once the hotels closed their doors, it was possible to see, in a generalized way for the sector, a drastic drop in the volume of reviews in opinion forums, giving much more visibility to the few comments that were still being published, these being the most will impact future guests’ purchasing decisions. It is therefore essential to provide a response from the establishment or the company with a language that, more than ever, has to demonstrate empathy, flexibility and understanding, in addition to recognizing current challenges, to avoid a company reputation exclusively focused on the business.
In this context, it is also important to dispute opinions that violate the publication guidelines and respond to positive comments, generally very emotional, to highlight the “humanity” of our sector, reassure the traveler community and take the opportunity to provide useful and relevant information , for example, about the post-COVID measures implemented in the hotels for the reopening.
With this crisis, the needs of customers have been changing, focusing more at this time on safety and hygiene, without forgetting the enjoyment of their hotel stay. It will therefore be necessary to monitor and analyze all the feedback that we receive once the first customers have stayed (through satisfaction surveys, in person or online), taking special care in analyzing the mentions they make about cleaning and post-coronavirus measures, as they should help us to make improvements, whenever possible.
Ultimately, we must ensure that hotels have a reputation as safe and clean havens where they can enjoy memorable experiences and disconnect from the stress caused by the health and economic crisis. Monitoring must be continuous, as the opinion and mood of customers can change completely from one moment to another. Constant monitoring thus enables fluctuations in public opinion to be recorded fast enough to be able to respond appropriately to guests.
The Q&A of the opinion forums represent another very important source of communication, in which potential clients post their doubts and queries about their reservations, to find out if the hotels will be open and if all services will be guaranteed. It is essential to be aware of what can be published in these sections since they are not usually collected in online reputation monitoring tools and can be sites that generate reputation crises, not only because of the published content, but because other users they can respond and attack the brand. It is important to always be able to provide our official version.
In short, we continue to learn from this crisis and we are all making decisions based on the information available at all times. To maintain a good online reputation we have to analyze everything that customers think to make the necessary adjustments and improve their satisfaction in this new era.