Why Hotel Brands Are Adopting a Transparent Business Model to Regain Trust With Guests

By Hâfi Martinsdóttir

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes | 823 words

The current climate is a breeding ground for mistrust, confusion and misguidance for all of us, especially travellers who are the very lifeblood of the hospitality industry. Even when restrictions begin to lift, thanks to a lack of confidence when it comes to travel, we are anticipating a slow recovery. Throughout this time brands have been trying to adapt to these mindset shifts that are continuously occurring around us even while the situation is still in flux.

One of the key ways that is emerging for brands to adapt is by adopting a business model built on honesty, integrity, and above all, transparency. Consumers are increasingly demanding a clearer view of how brands do business and thanks to COVID-19, keeping your operation running behind closed doors is no longer an option.

To regain the trust of consumers, transparency is currently our strongest suit. It’s essential to share your brand’s struggles throughout this ongoing pandemic, showing how you are responding and giving a behind the scenes view of your team’s processes. In doing so, you project a personable brand out into the world, an opportunity for consumers to connect with you on an individual level and grow their trust.

Faceless brands who share nothing, believing it to be a sign of strength, are risking appearing distant, unrelatable and irrelevant. You can still be transparent and strong. You can still share your brand’s struggles and lead the way with courage, ingenuity, creativity and vim.

This could look like sharing your team’s ideas for accommodating the next wave of guests comfortably and safely and asking your audience for their suggestions on social media. Listening goes a long way in fostering a connection and loyalty. Respond to your audience, be available to them and encourage them to support you on your journey through this. Keep them updated of significant changes and methods that you are trying. If people feel they have more of a say in your brand, they are far more likely to support you long-term.

Is your story safe?

Most of all, consumers are demanding transparency because of a need to know whether or not your brand’s story is safe. The time of dining at a restaurant with no thought as to where that food came from is fading into the distant past. People will increasingly want to know where you are sourcing your food, who grows your avocados, who caught this fish, what is their story?

This will increasingly call for more responsible, seasonal and environmentally friendly locavore menus along with the stories behind the food, the growers and their methods.

Let us in

Shine a light on your entire operation, flaws and all. If you promise to work together, alongside your team and guests, towards improving those flaws, whether those be for the benefit of running a more sustainable business or being more accountable and connected with your guests, then people will feel as though they have skin in the game and will support you.

Shine a light on your team, on your suppliers, on your way of life. Share what your brand is about, because not doing so risks your brand’s credibility and sense of intimacy that consumers are demanding right now.

Regain trust

We are going to see a lot more brand speculation and analysis before people commit to a booking. Traveller’s trust and spontaneity has gone, in order to slowly gain some of that back, it’s time to present your brand in a clear and authentic way, share what you have to offer, what you’re working on improving and how you are preparing your property to welcome guests once more in a way that keeps them safe, healthy and happy.

This might mean sharing your brand’s cleaning regulations and standards so that guests can personally overlook the process via your checklist which in turn will ease their minds that they can enjoy a stay as your guest without compromising their health.

Or perhaps it means explaining why you are extending the minimum stay at your property. Letting guests know that they must book for longer in order to protect your staff from a fast turnaround and keeping your business afloat as you may be implementing a 75-hour turnaround between each guest occupying a room in the interest of your team, community and guests’ safety. This will gain your audience’s understanding, respect and trust as they will see the changes you are implementing for their safety. Compare this to a brand who extend their minimum stay without explaining why and offer no clarity as to their hygiene regulations.

Break down the barriers

Whatever it is that you are implementing to meet this new shift in mindset, be transparent about it. Share what is working, what isn’t, ask for feedback, have conversations, listen to your audience and above all, shine a light on your business practices, team and suppliers. Enable your guests to trust you by showing you have nothing to hide, are fully accountable and ready to adapt in this new normal that we find ourselves in.

Unsure of your next step? Get clear on your hotel’s recovery strategy

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As COVID-19 is unlikely to disappear completely without an effective vaccine, it’s expected that we will have a W shaped recovery with lock downs repeatedly being enforced, relaxed and enforced again over time. Being prepared for this tumultuous recovery will stand you and your hotel in good stead to ride the waves to come.

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