Currently, the world is at a standstill as the Novel Coronavirus sweeps the globe. In such times of crisis, productions are halted, investments are low, risks are high and demand has dropped. The pandemic has not only ensured tremendous business loss but gross economical and financial loss as well. No industry is immune to the virus and the several consequences that come with it. One of the worst-hit has been the travel and hotel industry. This webinar focuses on Hoteliers in the Baltics region and strategies to bounce back amid this crisis.

The discussion panel comprised of Janis Valodze, CEO & Founder Hotel Dog Hospitality Consulting and Advisory, Martina Lichorobiecova, Director- International Markets, Mevris Hotel Systems, Theodoras Katsimpras, Director Global Business Development, Bookonlinenow, Christiane Sievieking, VP & Head of Baltics & Eastern Europe, RateGain®, and was moderated by Mark Haywood, Senior Vice President & Head of Europe RateGain®.

The agenda covered the latest industry-related news, need for modifying distribution landscape, upgrading hospitality technology to create engaging customer experiences, strategies to increase direct bookings, transitions into reopening, and was followed by questions from the viewers. Demand trends in both Greece and Czech Republic exhibit an upward positive movement. This is a great sign for the industry as requests in 2020 seem to be returning to normalcy.

Latest News and Current Happenings

Currently most hotel businesses are closed and the occupancy rate is a mere 1-2%. However, borders are opening up between the Baltic countries, bringing hope and respite to hoteliers. Inbound tourism is on the rise as weekend travelling surges during this time. Capital cities were used to international traffic which is yet to recover but the regions are beginning to thrive with inbound tourism. Hotel Dog Hospitality Consulting lays absolute strong focus on safety & hygiene protocols and effective communication should be placed.

There can be seen a potential rise in the domestic travel for the incoming summer period. Demand will be contingent on external factors like flights, ease of movement between borders etc. The entire industry must work together to gain back the traveller’s trust and create a safe experience for them. In such uncertain times, adapting to new source markets and target groups might be a good strategy. RateGain pointed out a potential shift in the type of demand and feeder markets. Restarting businesses should look into the review of hotel distribution channels and partners, creating content that is current and creative, cancellation policies that are updated to adapt to current times and give guests a sense of ease and ensure technology is being used to its maximum potential.

The importance of technology and the need to stay updated is a major area of attention in social media marketing. It allows for a unique and engaging experience with guests, an increase in income and reduction of costs. Saving time, having fewer errors and assuring a guest-friendly experience that is in alignment with brand style and values can help in boosting revenue. Mevris Hotel Systems believes in the need for sustainability and suggests carrying out online payment procedures for the same.

As hotel businesses are on the road to recovery, Bookonlinenow shares key factors to home in on. There is a need to focus on direct bookings. This could be through dynamic pricing and offers, social media campaigns, value-based reward system, meta search activation, operation of chatbots, use of customer data and more. Adopting new technology and marketing strategies along with analyzing the new demand will be essential to assimilate into the changing tourism and travel landscape. Keeping content and website up to date with safety procedures, cancellation policies, reopening dates, service offerings etc would also allow hoteliers to prepare for reopening.

For a successful and profitable reopening of hotels, short term activities that steer in the right direction can help achieve the long term goals. Safety communication, review of travel distribution and technology, fresh content and loyalty schemes are some measures that can aid the process of transition in these tough times.

The poll conducted with the viewers reinstated the importance of content, automation and flexibility. It was reinforced that dropping prices is not always an effective game plan. It doesn’t create new demand but only helps steal existing demand. Working on value-added services and fostering a unique and engaging experience with guests that allows for differentiation can assist the survival of businesses in this increasingly competitive market without having to slash prices. As for independent hoteliers and BnB’s, establishing a strong online presence and investing in hygiene, distribution and communication are a must.
As the situation evolves, businesses must take the right steps and adjust to the changing environment. Effective measures executed rapidly with utmost discipline and care can make Hotel and Travel recommencement in the Eastern European market successful and profitable.

About the Author

Christiane Sieveking
Associate Vice President-Sales

She is Associate Vice President of Business Development & Partnerships at RateGain Technologies and has more than 10 years of experience in E-Commerce, Business Intelligence, Revenue Management and Distribution. Prior to RateGain, Christiane held different roles at TravelClick/Amadeus in Account Management and Sales, working closely with hoteliers on revenue and Ecommerce strategies.