As a hotelier, you have an important decision to make when your hotel is undergoing a renovation – to be completely transparent about the construction or to keep it under wraps until the guest arrives on-property. Many hoteliers may think that if guests don’t know about their renovation, it can’t hurt their bookings. However, this plan will surely backfire. Unsuspecting guests that find themselves in the midst of construction, will often take their feelings of surprise and disappointment to TripAdvisor. This leaves hoteliers dealing with unhappy guests on property and an onslaught of negative reviews to respond to.
When your hotel is undergoing a renovation, you are in the driver’s seat. You have the power to transform guests’ negative perceptions about staying in a hotel mid-renovation into something positive. After all, renovations are creating a newer, more modern hotel for your guests. It should be an exciting thing! To build excitement and avoid negative guest reviews, it’s important to be honest about the hotel’s renovations and keep shoppers and guests informed of on-going changes both in person and online.
1. Be Honest and Upfront During the Booking Process
In the same way you wouldn’t want to arrive home to surprise construction, no guest wants to arrive at your hotel to find unexpected renovations underway. During a trip, your hotel serves as a guest’s home base – it’s where they will sleep, work, and eat, so it’s understandable that they prefer a restful environment. As a hotelier, you know that hotels are extremely careful to keep renovations as undisruptive as possible, but to the unknowing guest, construction is synonymous with noise. That’s why it is important to be transparent about the hotel’s renovation process and provide shoppers with a detailed account of what they can expect during each renovation phase. If they understand that they won’t wake up to the noise of hammers in a neighboring room or have to trek up four flights of stairs when the elevators are being redone, they will be more willing to stay at your hotel. On the contrary, hiding renovations from guests can leave them feeling duped upon arrival, which leads to bad online reviews.
To avoid unhappy surprises, place alerts on the homepages of both your independent and brand site, so shoppers are immediately aware of any construction taking place during their stay. Link the announcement to a landing page with more information so that shoppers are able to understand exactly how your hotel’s renovations will affect their stay.
While “We’re renovating!” may get the point across, using zingier verbiage can help guests understand that the renovation is a positive change that they will ultimately benefit from. Something along the lines of “Good enough isn’t good enough for us! We’ve heard your feedback and are working to create a better hotel for your future visits” can make guests feel that your hotel cares about their comfort, and ultimately, feel more connected with your brand.
Many OTAs, such as Expedia, Travelocity, and Asia Rooms, offer a space on each hotel’s listing for announcements (see screenshot below). Updating these announcement sections across all online distribution channels will help shoppers be more informed about your hotel’s renovations.
2. Tell Your Guests What to Expect Upon Arrival
Create a hub of information for your guests by adding a renovation landing page on your independent website. Publish details about what changes are being made and the scheduled dates for each renovation phase as well as renderings of the new spaces and photos of the model rooms or suites. This may seem like information overload, but it can help put guests’ minds to rest about anticipated disruptions during their stay.
Make sure to spell out exactly how your renovation will be taking place, so that shoppers are aware that construction won’t be happening in the room next door to them, or even on the same floor. As renovation phases are completed, update the page to reveal new photos that showcase before and after comparisons. The updated look will excite shoppers to book a room at your hotel.
Renovation landing pages can also serve as useful resources for your hotel team. No doubt, concerned guests will be asking hotel employees about the changes and how the renovation will affect their stay, so use this page as an opportunity to answer any frequently asked questions. Then, your staff can refer guests to the landing page if they do not know the answers off-hand.
3. Provide an Open Line of Communication Throughout the Stay
Hoteliers can go the extra mile to make guests feel included in the renovation process by providing an update in each room outlining the renovations to take place that day. Guests will appreciate that the hotel has taken the time to keep them in the loop, and it allows the hotel to manage guest’s expectations appropriately. Guests won’t be surprised to see new mattresses being hauled through the lobby if they are warned in advance.
General Managers can even go so far as to provide their personal contact information in the daily printout. This gives the guests an outlet where they can voice their feedback and concerns directly to the hotel rather than posting a scathing review on TripAdvisor for the world to see. This will prevent shoppers from being scared away by other guests’ sub-standard experiences. Plus, the General Manager can use the private complaints or feedback as a means to immediately improve the renovation experience for other guests.
4. Generate Community Excitement on Social
Social media is a great tool to utilize during your hotel’s renovation since it is an inexpensive way to extend your message to many people. It is a great medium to keep guests informed about updates taking place in real time and to generate excitement about the various improvements being made.
Post “behind-the-scenes” photos on your social pages to give guests a taste of what the new rooms will look like. Photos of inspiration boards, new furniture, and construction can all incite fan engagement and spark interest in returning to the hotel when renovations are complete.
As different phases are completed, display the finished products on social media. Make guests feel valuable and increase fan engagement by prompting fans to share their opinions of the new look. Post a high-res visual and pose a simple question to spark interaction, such as “In three words or less, how would you describe our new guest rooms?” Plus, when it’s time to update your room descriptions on your hotel’s independent site, you’ll already be prepared with some descriptive phrases inspired by your hotel’s fans.
5. Keep the Excitement Alive Long After the Dust Settles
Your work doesn’t end when the construction crew packs up and every ergonomic desk chair is in its place; now, it’s time to announce your new look to the world! Use what you learned when marketing your hotel renovations to now promote your newly renovated property by updating the same channels with your new property amenities and information.
One of your first priorities should be to update both the room descriptions and photos on your website. Changing your homepage alert (see screenshot below) to announce that renovations are finished lets shoppers know they can expect to find brand new spaces when they choose to stay at your property.
Now is a perfect time to update your OTA listings to reflect the change your property has seen. Update your hotel description to mention your newly renovated rooms, meeting space, lobby, etc. Your new features could be a deciding factor between your hotel and a competitor!
It’s also time to announce the completion on your social media. Give your Facebook fans and Twitter followers a “sneak peek” at your hotel’s new look with photos of your updated spaces or showcase just how much your hotel has transformed with before and after photos. Your fresh look could help to inspire a visit from a devoted fan.
Ready to Renovate?
While hoteliers may dread guests’ reactions to on-going renovations, keeping guests and shoppers informed on the transformation and working to generate a positive buzz about the changes will help avoid unhappy guests on property and a string of unsatisfied online reviews.
Also, take note that if you are hesitant to overuse the word “renovation” in your online marketing strategy, you can replace it with hotel makeover, improvements, exciting changes, etc. However you choose to refer to the renovation, just make sure you keep the message and tone extremely positive throughout.