What are we doing to navigate through this new uncertainty? And how can we protect the improvement in bookings we’ve seen lately? Here’s an update from our team.
With the discovery of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, the uncertainty that had been waning over recent months has returned to the travel industry. Travel operators are waiting to see what the effect will be on bookings.
Booking rates around the world
Travel to South Africa feel dramatically – 750 percent – almost overnight. But with many European countries and the USA imposing travel bans on up to eight South African countries, including South Africa, this was inevitable.
Meanwhile, bookings to the rest of the world have remained surprisingly strong. The swift action of the South African authorities to share what they know has enabled many countries to take pre-emptive actions and identify the few instances of the variant within their borders. This has helped to maintain travel confidence.
Furthermore, so far, countries haven’t reimposed wider travel bans. Travellers are expected to take pre-departure tests in many cases, but this is a manageable inconvenience for most.
As a result, while there has been a small drop off in bookings to Europe and the United States, the fall has not been as dramatic as seen previously.
Latest news on flights into the USA
So far, President Biden has implemented stricter travel rules but not made major changes to who can travel. This is great news for European visitors who have only recently had travel open back up to them.
The new rules mean that, from next week, all international travellers to the USA – including American citizens – must take a COVID-19 test one day before travel. This must be completed regardless of your vaccination status.
Furthermore, mask requirements on planes, buses and trains will be extended until mid-March.
We will keep an eye out on updates to the situation. At the moment, experts are still working to understand what the variations in Omicron will mean in terms of transmissibility and the seriousness of the effects. Until we know more, it is hard to predict what will happen in the short term, either in terms of travel restrictions being ramped up or relaxed or in terms of any effect on bookings.
We will keep you posted!
Strategies to boost booking
In the meantime, we will continue to be flexible in our approach to booking, so that we can maximise occupancy rates and revenues for you.
#1. Communicating clearly about the cleaning procedures we have in place
We’ve always been known for our immaculate cleaning procedures and we continue to emphasise this to guests, including detailing the enhanced cleaning procedures we’ve implemented during the pandemic.
#2. Contactless check-in
As well as enhanced cleaning regimes, we’re doing a few other things differently at the moment to shore up guest confidence. We continue to highlight these standards to ensure guest confidence when they stay at your property.
#3. Marketing to customers within driving distance
Local bookings have been really important throughout the last two years and we are continuing to look at new ways to reach this market. These bookings held strong even when flight restrictions were imposed, so they are an important part of building resilience in your rental income.
#4. Discounts for longer stays
With the increase in remote work holding strong for many people, this is opening the door for travellers to stay for longer. And who wouldn’t want to work poolside? Travellers can take their families away without needing to book extra vacation, so offering discounts for longer stays can be a good way to serve this market and boost occupancy.
#5. Lowering minimum night stays
We know this isn’t for everyone but lowering the minimum night requirement can help to boost bookings. For one, you’ll show up in a greater number of searches in the listing sites.
#6. Adaptive pricing
We’ve seen over the last year just how effective dynamic pricing can be in maximising bookings and revenue. Thank you for working with us on this over the last 12 months. Options include lowering your minimum price, increasing last-minute discounts and offering some special deals. We’ll continue to tweak our activities on this to ensure that we are maximising occupancy without jeopardising maximum rates.
Reach out to our team
If you have any concerns, or would like to talk through anything raised in this blog, please reach out to our team as normal.