During a Recovery Connections session on Oct. 21 — part of HSMAI’s Road to Recovery 2020 program — Explore St. Louis’ Brian Hall, Hyatt’s Liz Schultz, and Aqua-Aston Hospitality’s Theresa van Greunen joined Sassatto LLC’s Dan Wacksman CHDM, CRME, to discuss “Inspiring Guest Confidence: The New Value Proposition.”
It’s important to balance self-promotion with safety: “We’re finding that the use of video content online of people having a good time outdoors is providing some substantial levels of engagement from a digital standpoint,” said Hall, Explore St. Louis’ chief marketing officer. “We think that combination of sight, sound, and motion and seeing people traveling and connecting and having an experience is moving the needle. It’s just an altered version of what we think of as normal. We feature people on location wearing masks, and it seems to be a good balance between the pragmatism of wearing a face covering and families having a good time and living their lives. We feature masks in all of our marketing. We’re not bashful, because we want folks to have the expectation that when they come here, they need to mask up.”
Creating value doesn’t mean cutting price: “What we have found interesting, because the leisure segment is traveling, is that there is a need for value,” said Schultz, Hyatt’s vice president of guest experience, strategy, and innovation. “The people willing to get on the road already have a higher confidence level than most, and there is a pent-up demand. They want things to be made easy for them — people are tired of doing things themselves like preparing food. This audience is ready to embrace an upcharge if you’re providing that level of convenience. The message is that if people have the confidence to travel and want to escape, they’re willing to pay extra to have the luxuries of not having to cook, clean, and park their own cars.”
Hotels have a major advantage over Airbnb properties: “We agree with the sentiment that travelers are going to seek less crowded experiences and may feel more comfortable in a residential environment where they can cook their own food and have a more spacious accommodation to spend time” said van Greunen, Aqua-Aston’s associate vice president of corporate communications. “We are a professionally managed organization. We have stringent protocol following CDC guidelines. We use medical-grade disinfectant and follow a 30-point checklist. It’s difficult to compare that to a self-managed Airbnb run by a regular person who isn’t in the loop with best practices. We’re even sealing doors, so guests have a sense of confidence that they’re the only ones entering their room once it has been disinfected. We’re providing more peace of mind for both guests and for our associates, so they’re not being exposed unnecessarily.”
Recovery Connections is a weekly program with sales, marketing, and revenue optimization tracks that mix best-practices presentations with interactive small-group discussions. Sign up to watch this session, access an on-demand library — and register for the next session, “The Metrics That Matter,” at 2 p.m. EST on Nov. 4.