Renovations are necessary to the success of any hotel. Guests care about the experience they have when they stay at a property, and a fresh aesthetic is often an important component of this feeling. Despite renovations being an absolute necessity, a strong stigma persists around the process. I often hear that ‘reno’ is a four-letter word, not to be spoken above a whisper, especially with prospective guests. This is a mistake that comes with serious consequences. ‘Reno’ is not a four-letter word, instead it is a process that should be openly-communicated and embraced by hotel staff.
One of the first things learned in any public relations class is the strength of controlling your own story. When you fail to openly acknowledge a transition or change, you allow people to create their own perspectives of the event, which can lead to a negative perspective. By being transparent about the renovation and setting proper expectations, you will build trust with your customers and shift the focus of the story from nuisance and anxiety to excitement about what is to come.
Understandably, there is justification for being fearful of losing reservations from guests wary of staying at a hotel undergoing construction. However, consider this – they will find out one way or another. If guests are taken by surprise during their stays, chances are they will react negatively to the changes they see.
There are two components of a renovation story: the message and placement. Discover how to write a clear and concise message and how to distribute it for maximum coverage below.
When ready to share the news with prospective guests, start with a composed message. First, determine the tone of your renovation messaging. It is best practice to use a voice that is informative, honest, and optimistic. The information in the message needs to be as transparent as possible. However, renovation schedules and timelines change, so drop hard dates from the copy. The message needs to strike a balance between honesty and the fluctuations of reality. The curious guest may require more information. As you compose your message, be sure to include easy to find contact information so that potential guests can reach out with questions or concerns. Alleviating these personally will build rapport with potential guests. Finally, if any part of the renovation has been completed, be sure to call it out. See below for an example of a balanced and information renovation message:
“The hotel will be undergoing a property modernization through Fall of 2017. Construction will occur daily between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. and you may experience noise between these hours. Please contact us with any questions. We are excited to share the changes when they are complete!”
Where To Place Renovation Messaging
This needs to follow the message guidelines above and stand out from existing elements on the most used pages. Generally speaking, placing it on the homepage, accommodations pages, and specials page should be enough coverage for everyone using the site to see it. To be safe, provide warning before final booking as well.
Social media is your hype platform. Use these channels to celebrate the small wins and progress made while avoiding dwelling on the negative. Depending on your progress and quantity of photos to share, posting frequency may vary. As a rule of thumb, do not talk about the renovation unless you have progress to share. Were new track lights installed in the hallway? A quick photo of the new ambiance would make a good post. Is the lobby going to be out for another two weeks? You may want to skip this to avoid bringing attention to a negative issue. In essence, build excitement with those that care about your property and brand.
Each OTA allows you to notify prospective guests differently. This ranges from the Expedia Partner Network allowing you to simply check a box signifying renovations are underway to Booking.com allowing hotels to provide more information. Make a checklist of all relevant OTAs and connect with your respective market managers to see what options are available to your property. Need help optimizing your OTA listings? Learn more about Blue Magnet Interactive’s online travel agency services.
Empathy is needed for guests that may have been disturbed in the renovation process. The goal should be to create a repeat customer out of every response by focusing on encouraging a visit after the renovations are complete. Responding to these will help you get a pulse on what guests are noticing and where their expectations are not being met. If you are hearing a lot of the same complaints, you may need to adjust your renovation messaging to address the issue. A widely known secret is the ability to remove reviews from TripAdvisor after all work is complete. You can find more information about that below.
After the Dust Settles
When renovations are complete, the storytelling is not quite over! You will need to channel the excitement of the changes into an easily digestible showcase for guests. Apart from shouting out the news from the top of every building, you will want to check off the following:
- Remove all “in-progress” renovation messaging from your site and OTAs.
- Pictures are essential. Obtain new ones as soon as possible and upload them to your website, social media, and OTA listings.
- Mention your recent renovation in your website copy. Create a bulleted list that details some of the big and little changes that can be found on property.
- Clear relevant reviews on TripAdvisor. You can remove reviews during the renovation by submitting a request through the TripAdvisor management center. Be prepared – you will need documentation of the work to start this process.
- Consider creating a central hub where you can showcase the work done.This can be a separate landing page or a section of your photo gallery.
Renovations are both trying and exciting. To ensure a positive guest experience, be open about the changes on property and focus on the positive. Be optimistic and lead a prospective guest into your story of transformation and away from one of nuisance. Allow for open lines of communication and be empathetic with issues that may arise. Finally, showcase the work when complete.
Blue Magnet Interactive specializes in writing resonating content for hotels. If you are having trouble telling your story, get in touch to learn more about our tailored renovation services