Pre-arrival messaging is an essential step in your customers’ journeys. Never has this been truer than during these COVID-19 times. Coronavirus updates change from day to day—and sometimes from hour to hour. As a result, accommodation cancellations are at an all-time high. So keep reading! If you’re looking for how to write an email to hotel guests about their upcoming stay, we’ve got you covered. While you can’t control the pandemic, you can put your guests at ease with our top three tips for essential COVID-19 pre-arrival email messaging.
1. Automate and update pre-arrival emails
Avoid reinventing the wheel and use your hotel’s property management system (or PMS integration with your CRM solution) to send automated emails that are triggered when bookings are confirmed. Be sure to include:
>> The steps your accommodation has taken to ensure guest safety, such as deep-cleaning measures and employee health checks
>> Clear instructions for their arrival, such as wearing a mask upon arrival, where to enter, key access, etc.
>> Cancellation policy details
>> Updated amenity information
>> A link to your property’s COVID-19 policy
Keep this information as simple and clear as possible so it’s easy to digest and is not overwhelming. These days guests are rushed and stressed, so make emails easy to read with short paragraphs, bolded headings, and bulleted lists—all of which make it easy to scan and absorb.
Keep your pre-arrival email template updated! Revisit this email regularly to ensure information is relevant and timely to current pandemic regulations and to avoid confusion.
2. Use a reassuring and positive tone
It’s an uncertain time and tensions are high, so put your guests at ease with a friendly and reassuring tone. Make sure they feel very welcome to visit and can rest assured, knowing that you’ve taken every precaution for their wellbeing.
- Keep it personal: Your communication at this time should come from a real person with a name, preferably the hotel manager. In this touch-free world, it’s more important than ever to retain that human touch in other ways.
- Be transparent: Build trust with your guests through transparency. Don’t neglect to mention that your free breakfast station is closed. However…(read the next point).
- Make an effort: Show your guests the power of a pivot! Yes, your free breakfast station may be closed at this time, but instead, guests may enjoy a bagged breakfast brought to their door each morning, or a discount on room service.
- Stay accessible: Re-assure your guests that your team is standing by to answer any questions or concerns about their stay.
3. Err on the side of generosity
A seven-day cancellation policy puts customers in the position of having to predict the future. Travel restrictions and recommendations are ever-changing. If you don’t err on the side of generosity, your guests will be forced to err on the side of caution and be more likely to cancel their stay.
For the good of your community, you’ll want to send the message to your guests to stay home if they’re not well, or risk hosting customers who would rather travel when sick than lose out on a deposit. Make it easy for them to make the right decision.
Be straight with guests. Instead of a cancellation (and refunding money) ask them to accept a gift certificate or voucher for a future stay instead. Guests are often very willing to help out independent businesses in this way.
Pre-arrival messaging tools
Use all the tools at your disposal to get your message across to your guests: website, text messages, and email. Having several communication touchpoints ensures your information is accessible, no matter how each guest prefers to consume information.
Have the meat of your COVID-19 policy and protocols easily accessible on your website. You can then point to this information from your emails and text messages.
Email versus text messaging
The information in this blog post refers mainly to email messaging for guests. However, if your PMS integrates with an SMS service such as Whistle or Akia, we highly encourage sending pre-arrival text messaging too. Industry open rates for emails are around 20-30%, whereas text open rates can be as high as 98%! Obviously, SMS messaging must be much more concise. Using a positive tone, provide just the essential arrival instructions and include links to more information.
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