Sojern is built on more than a decade of expertise analysing the complete traveller path to purchase.
We identify people coming to your city and influence them to book directly with you.
1. Proactive & Compassionate Communication
Your communication approach during this crisis will define your brand and online reputation for years to come. As such, customer-centric communication is vital. Your reservation staff should be prepared to advise and support customers on your closure (if applicable) and guide them on how to cancel or rebook in line with government guidelines. Instead of waiting for your customers to reach out, proactively communicate the various methods of contacting you directly via email and on your homepage. In addition, be particularly compassionate towards customers contacting you from the most heavily affected countries. Above all, avoid fighting cancellations and consider the cost of a negative online review to your business for the sake of retaining a booking.
2. Incentivise Postponing
Your correspondence with customers should never mention the word “cancel”. Instead, politely encourage them to rebook at a future date, or postpone their booking and convert it to an open-ended reservation that they can redeem at any time or between a certain time frame. Consider these approaches to incentivize postponing bookings:
• Change your dates and get a 10% discount on your future booking
• Convert your booking to an open-ended reservation and get a free room upgrade
• Accept a voucher in lieu of a refund and get a free spa treatment, dinner in our restaurant, etc.
• Rebook to a later date with no cancellation fee and also earn double loyalty points
3. Update & Promote Your Cancellation Policy
Let your updated cancellation policy be informed by the specific impact of COVID-19 on your market and then learn from the policies adopted by leading players. The policy you adopt should be customer sensitive and be mindful that the approach you take now will be remembered in the future. Unfavourable terms and fighting cancellations will have negative long-term effects on your brand, whereas compassion and flexibility will be praised and encourage loyalty. When your favourable cancellation policy has been determined, contact your web developer to display it front and centre on your website’s homepage to make it easier for customers to find and be reassured.
Consider the following cancellation policy approaches:
• Reservations made on or before [date of lockdown in your country] may amend reservations at no charge
• Customers forced to cancel to comply with government restrictions, to perform COVID-19 medical duties or due to flight cancellations may cancel reservations at no charge
• Customers who booked non-flexible rates can rebook up to 6 months from the original check-in date
• Waive all change fees and offer full refunds for regions affected by government-issued travel restriction
• Free changes and cancellations on stays up until August 31, 2020. Cancellations/changes need to be made by 6 p.m. the night before check-in
4. Amend Your Payment Policy
Mitigate the risk of cancellations and promote future bookings by amending your payment policy so that customers only have to pay 24-48 hours prior to arrival.