Tourism v/s Terrorism.
How to overcome the recession?

January 21, 2009

The year 2008 has been a roller coaster ride, with endless ups and downs. It all began with the major financial crisis that took the United States by surprise, causing a massive ripple effect on other major economies as well. It is the biggest financial crisis that took place after the Great Depression and people are still recovering from the shock.
Focusing more on the Indian Hospitality Industry, the chain of bomb blasts that took place in major cities of India - New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Hyderabad and Bangalore, have left the country unsafe and tourists have lost faith in the security measures of the country. The Mumbai terrorist attacks, on top of a global economic recession, have come as a double whammy for India's tourism and hospitality industry. The massacre that occurred for 3 whole days inside the hotels Taj & Trident gave a terrible experience to those who wished to visit the country. The impact has been dreadful and tourism in India has badly suffered after the attacks.
A recent survey declared that the tourism growth had reduced from 14.54% to 8%, and the hospitality industry desperately needs to make an all out effort to recover from the dual setback of global crisis and the terror attacks.
Here are few tips on how you can get past the recession:

Offer flexible rates: We all know that there are some days of the week or periods of the year when business will be slower and less profitable. In such times it is most advantageous to flex your rates on your online booking engine. You could offer better deals on rooms and reduce rates in order to attract customers to make bookings in your hotel.

Keep a tab on your competitors: In order to survive the crisis you first have to beat the competition. Keep a close watch on the rates and offers provided by your competitors, and strategize accordingly. Don’t let your competitors win over your prospective guests.

Spruce-up your website: Make your website look neat and attractive. The look of your website is the most important feature and works as a shop window to leisure customers. Concentrate on the layout and design of the website. This includes the color combination and the look and feel of your website. You could also upload images of the rooms, restaurants and surroundings. Your website should be completely updated with relevant information of its features and amenities.

Get a good booking engine: Having a comprehensive, multi-currency and multi-lingual booking engine for your hotel website can target travelers from around the world. This way there is a lesser possibility of losing out on customers, as they can conveniently make bookings on your website.

Make your website search engine friendly: Make your website more visible to web users and travelers! Optimise your website by providing useful content and relevant keywords. This will increase your chances of ranking higher on search engines like Google and Yahoo, which in turn will increase traffic to your site.

Get a good analytics package: How many people visit your site every day? Which features are most popular? What are visitors doing when they get there? To answer all these questions you need to get your website a good analytics package. Web analytics help you track your site's statistics, allowing you to see who your users are, how many people are looking at which page, etc. This information can help you measure traffic and understand your visitors' needs and behavior. Like for example, if your website is generating more traffic from Indian customers then you can adjust your rates, schemes and packages to target these customers. This tool will also help you calculate your cost and profit and tell you how much money your hotel campaigns have generated.

Adapt Quickly to Market Conditions: There are always ups and downs in the market and it is important for you to adapt to the market changes and quickly take decisions. If you know the market is poor, then you need to aggressively promote your hotel and continually build your presence in the minds of your customers, so that they always think of your hotel every time they want to make a reservation. This is called ‘Top of mind awareness’. Top of mind awareness is very desirable in target prospects who are likely to make reservations in your hotel, because it is when they are considering making a booking, you really want them to remember you.

E-Mail Marketing: One of the most cost effective methods to communicate with your customers is via email. Make sure you have a list of email addresses of the guests who have visited your hotel or take references from them, so that you can send emails to them promoting your hotel and intimating them about new rates and amenities offered by your hotel. This way you spend less and also actively promote your hotel.

Monitor Online Reviews: Keep a close tab on online reviews given to your hotel. Travelers are strongly influenced by the reviews they read about hotels and make their decisions accordingly. It is important that you continually monitor reviews posted on popular travel sites like Trip Advisor, MakeMyTrip, etc. Make sure your hotel gets a positive response from people and if not, then find out where you need to improve and quickly make the necessary changes.

The year 2009 is a testing time for the hospitality industry, and it is up to you to boldly take things in your stride and overcome the recession.

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