It doesn’t need to be said that like many others, the hospitality and MICE industry is going through a tough time due to COVID-19. With occupancy dropping and hotels momentarily closing, it’s never been more important to prepare your room block management for the future.
This will help in two ways: to navigate current challenges and ensure when things start to pick up again, your hotel is prepared and as agile as it can be.
When it comes to room block management, it pays to give both planners and hotel staff an easy time. Maybe you’re understaffed and struggling for RFPs during these challenging times, but it won’t be that way forever. Your doors will open again, and you will need to make sure you’re doing all you can to accommodate your planners to win their business, increase pickup and accelerate profitability.
Your action plan: room block management in a changing market
Right now, you need an action plan. How are you going to handle room block management while keeping your planners and guests happy simultaneiously? First of all, take a step back and examine the things that matter to your buyers right now.
1. Keep planners informed
Collaboration is the cornerstone of great room block management, and right now its never been more important to keep your planners in the loop.
If you’re using software, a great way to give your planners more control is by granting them complimentary access to dashboards, so that they can track room block pickup and pace and service reservation changes, for example.
2. Keep guests informed
Not only is it important that your planners remain informed, but also your guests too. They will want to stay updated on critical changes such as whether an event has been postponed or cancelled, or changes to policies (especially those concerning Covid19).
Room block management software can help communicate these changes quickly and at scale.
3. Anticipate any risks to attendance
Q4 is looking to be a busy quarter for hotels, with many events and meetings are postponed to the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021.
It’s still important to track attendance of your events even if they are postponed. You’ll need to keep a close eye on reservations, modifications and cancellations.
4. Make smart business decisions
To be able to make smart decisions within room block management, you need a way to track and react to room block pickup, reservation rates, revenue and upsells.
Again, software can help you do this with reporting tools.
5. Take note of what Asia-Pacific are doing
So why is Asia-Pacific important to observe? In 2003, the region went through the SARS outbreak, which critically impacted hotel occupancy. They’ve learned a thing or two since the crisis, which means their approach might be different.
According to STR, Mainland China had three months of decline in April, May and June, with May being the lowest occupancy month at 18%. In August, occupancy returned to normal at 67%.
A study conducted by Sherri Kimes, emeritus professor of service operations management at Cornell University, in which she surveyed 500 hoteliers worldwide, showed the difference in actions taken by Western countries and Asia-Pacific countries.
She noted that Westerners were quick to cut rates, while operators in Asia-Pacific have favoured “value-adds”, such as offering vouchers for guests or free airport transfers.
Preparing for the future
1. Understand your planners
Event planners are busy. Their days are long, and most of the time they’re juggling multiple tasks.
- 69% of planners organise 11+ events per year
- 37% of planners organise 50+ events per year
- 16% of planners organise 100+ events per year
In addition, more than 50% planners say that they are faced with increased attendance at events including fundraisers, trade shows and conferences.
Find out more about modern planners in the 2019 Global Planner Sourcing Report.
It’s important to make communications with planners efficient and prompt so to avoid wasting their time. Avoid complicated spreadsheets and find ways to streamline your room block management process. Endless back and forth can be exhausting for both you and your buyers.
Find ways to streamline different areas of room block management to help with this.
2. Find a room block management technology
49% of planners claim they manage room blocks manually, but interestingly, 59% want a technology-driven room block solution.
Manual room block management is time-consuming and hotels lose RFP opportunities due to planners looking for hotels offering relevant technology. In addition, if you can’t provide a streamline experience when it comes to room blocks, you’ll lose repeat business, which impacts the bottom line.
You need to show planners that you can collaborate efficiently, provide visibility and control. Instead of using booking links or call-in reservations, use technology to save time, drive pickup, increase ADR, gain competitive advantage and increase planner and guest satisfaction.
Join our upcoming webinar: How the Modern Planner uses Room Block Management Tools on the 22nd April to prepare for when your doors open again.