How to Prepare Sales Strategy for your Hotel, Vacation Rental, or Hostel in 2021?

Patricia PetrinjakCOVID-19
9 min read

Although we have so far accepted the status of a “new normal” and sometimes tedious coexistence with the virus COVID – 19, life still goes on – as well as tourism.

And now what?

At the end of the last year, the Croatian Tourism Association published a prediction announcing that the upcoming season will be marked with last-minute reservations, greater interest in higher category accommodation as well as a guarantee of isolation and security.

There is more: individual arrivals and travel programs, additional content and the eternal one – quality versus quantity. In addition to new perspectives, COVID – 19 also confirms the folk wisdom because quality accommodation has achieved an enviable occupancy given the circumstances.

All in the (Flexible) Last Minute

Preparing the sales strategy for 2021 will significantly differ from the preparations in previous years.

Prices simply will not be on par with prices from 2019 and years before.

Although the financial crisis caused by the pandemic has brought the travel industry to its lowest levels in 20 years, curbing the COVID-19 virus with vaccines and other methods during the first quarter of 2021 will increase demand.

Furthermore, flexibility remains crucial.

Accommodation whose offer include flexibility in the form of possible changes or cancellations of reservations and cancellation conditions, in general, will be more desirable.

The Non-refundable offer becomes “Which Non-refundable offer?”

Non-refundable offers that usually imply advance payments will hardly achieve the popularity they had before the beginning of the corona crisis.

Providing travelers with significant savings, mentioned offers ensured early occupancy, cash flow, and security that carry the hoteliers’ and renters’ pre-season liquidity.

That is no longer the case today.

COVID – 19 has made sure that non – refundable offers today pose a huge risk and leave an undesirable impression of inflexibility at a time when sudden changes, flight cancellations, border closures and other traffic restrictions are changing almost overnight.

In this case, a good move would be to introduce the so-called early – bird offers. By offering and forming such prices, guests could receive certain discounts for reservations made three or more months before arrival. This way, hoteliers and renters can feel the real level of demand while achieving a certain occupancy before the start of the season. A certain occupancy would thus be achieved earlier than the last minute period in which the majority of bookings for the following season can be expected.

Assuming that the heart of the season and surrounding periods will achieve the desired occupancy rate, the biggest challenge will remain occupancy rate in the pre and post-season when competition between many vendors has a significant impact.

Dynamic Pricing

The process of pricing based on the number of people and the length of stay will be more pronounced and will inevitably lead to a complete change in pricing strategy to ensure the highest possible level of competitiveness.

By forming a price depending on, for example, the number of people in the reservation, we allow guests to book a one-bedroom apartment for four people at the cost of a studio apartment for two. It means we offer more comfort for the same price, provide value, and become far more competitive through completely different price segments – through the accommodation type’s capacity and size.

Also, the use of smart revenue management solutions like Pricelabs is becoming more and more common. Pricelabs uses its own algorithm to continuously analyze the supply and demand in the market to generate the best price for your accommodation at all times.

The good news is that the Pricelabs is one of the available integrations through RentlioProviding travelers with significant savings, mentioned offers ensured early occupancy, cash flow, and security that carry the hoteliers’ and renters’ pre-season liquidity., which means that Rentlio further synchronizes your accommodation’s recommended prices on all other connected sales channels, your website included.

The Importance of the Local Offer

Various restrictions on travel, sudden measures and bans on gatherings have led to the term staycation re-popularization. It is a phrase used during the 2008 economic crisis in the United States when guests with limited financial resources rediscovered geographically closer destinations for their vacations to save money.

Staycation in pandemic circumstances implies spending vacation without the usual stress caused by packing, long rides and flights at lower costs at the same time. With the increasingly present trends of sustainable travel, this way of spending a vacation implies less impact on the environment.

Although the share of domestic travelers in Croatia amounts to a relatively small 10 % so far, why not adjust the offer and attract this segment of guests while waiting for the full border openings and free travel?

Photo by Free To Use Sounds on Unsplash

Special Cleanliness Measures

Hygiene and maintenance of accommodation have always been especially valued, but now is the right time to emphasize it.

You could also take additional steps to secure and keep your space clean. For inspiration, AirBNB has provided a simple and comprehensive manual on the subject.

You will make it even easier for guests if you place disinfectants, masks and gloves in common areas, such as the entrance area or staircase.

The Times They Are a Changin’

Thanks to technology, but also to circumstances, the way we do business, shop and live in general has changed dramatically. The use of technology and innovative ways and solutions has never been more desirable than today.

What does it mean for you?

It means that digital nomads, the possibility of working from home, online check-in, contactless payments and all similar contactless and technologically more advanced solutions are your allies.

Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash

It also means that introducing new solutions will help you attract more guests.

Those two magic words – digitalization and technology

In a recent interview for HrTurizam, our CEO, Marko Mišulić, pointed out: “I think that in the time after COVID technology will play a key role in maintaining competitiveness in the market. We are simply going through a kind of system reset. This is an opportunity for all tourist facilities to review internal processes, arrange the so-called tech stack, work on automation, etc. Those who do not keep up with the trends, as well as with quality, technology and approach, will find it much harder to recover, so I believe that now is the right time to dedicate ourselves to adapt to what the future holds.

Therefore – take advantage of the current reduced demand situation and prepare for recovery through digitalization and technology.

The implementation of the Property Management system, Channel Manager and Booking Engine is the first step towards a successful digital transformation. Whether you are introducing these technology tools to your own business for the first time or replacing existing systems with new ones – keep in mind that the technology you use must primarily provide an even better experience for your guests.

All of the above, and more than that, is unified in Rentlio.

Feel free to contact us for a free consultation during which we will be happy to talk to you about the possibilities of technological transformation for your tourist facility.

Communication, Communication, Communication

The perception of security and communication with the guest remain the most critical segments on which sales is based.

Undoubtedly, you take all the prerequisites to protect each of your guests and prepare to react quickly in the worst case of a newly ill person, but make sure that you convey that commitment to the guest.

For inspiration, check out the video and the way Turkey communicated its destination. It is not necessary to have logistics of entire Turkey to notice the address of a guest who is genuinely concerned, does not know whether to cancel or book at all.

Show your guests how you understand their situation and possible insecurity, but at the same time, make sure to provide them with relevant information about the situation in your country and the surrounding areas. Accompany mentioned with advice on general behavior, possibilities and limitations, the need to wear a mask in certain areas and spaces, as well as recommendations for places where not a large number of people move.

Experiment, but Also Plan

According to a European Travel Commission (ETC) report entitled “European Tourism 2020 – Trends and Prospects”, Croatia is among the countries with the lowest decline in foreign tourists in Europe.

In the first eight months of 2020, 68% fewer international tourists visited Europe than in the same period last year, while arrivals are expected to fall by about 60% throughout the entire year due to a new wave of pandemics and “closures”.

In essence, the report confirms the resilience of tourism.

On the other hand, every cloud has a silver lining. The emergence of so-called slow-tourism means enjoying the moment, encouraging guests to discover new, almost undiscovered places nearby, to spend more time in nature surrounded by fewer people than it has been the case so far. New opportunities are opening up to be more creative, take advantage of the destination’s benefits, and prepare sales for 2021 in an innovative way.

Photo by Angelo Pantazis on Unsplash

Finally, keep in mind that post-pandemic market trends will be manifested primarily in the form of last-minute bookings with an emphasis on security and flexibility. Try to shape your sales strategy accordingly and you will surely see positive results.

At the moment of improvement of the epidemiological situation, there is certainly a guest who will use that moment to recharge the batteries.

After all, once all the measures and curfews prove to be unnecessary, everyone will need a vacation.

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Although she would love to read all day, Patricia enjoys writing for Rentlio. Constantly trying to adapt to the Dalmatian way of life, you can find her walking her two dogs and/or reading on most evenings 📚