How a luxury lodge resort in the UK created strategy amid uncertainty to thrive during one of the toughest times in hospitality history.
When the UK started to open from the pandemic-enforced lockdown, Cornwell holiday resort, Gwel an Mor, was the unexpected recipient of unprecedented travel demand for the region.
Resort director, Matt Way, and his team looked ahead to this domestic travel boom and strategised accordingly. With the need to quickly adapt to the new normal, they asked themselves what they could do to ensure guests would feel safe and comfortable while also taking advantage of this unrivalled staycation demand in their hotspot region.
Capturing a new type of domestic traveller
Despite being in the hospitality business for over 30 years, Matt has never seen such unprecedented demand geographically.
Gwel an Mor would normally compete in the holiday park market, but this year, Matt Way wanted to turn this high ‘staycationer’ demand into an opportunity to build relationships and turn those customers into returning guests.
Before he could capture those guests, Matt and the team focused heavily on guest safety, figuring out ways to maintain efficiency while still delivering on customer service.
“We invested about £10,000 in fogging and swabbing equipment. As far as we know, we’re the only resort in the country that swabs the lodges to ensure they reach a medical standard of cleanliness. These measures offer peace of mind for the cleaners and peace of mind for the customers; it helped drive our revenue and boost occupancy from the minute we reopened and was a big part of our success over the summer.”
He delivered clear messaging about this COVID-safe regime to instil guest confidence and capture the increased demands. For this strategy to be successful, it was very important to have good support over weekends and the ability to react to feedback quickly.
Using technology to ensure safety and drive demand
By acting fast, Matt and his team were well placed to welcome the influx of domestic travellers, offering a safe stay that still maintained that element of luxury.
“The staff portal allows our housekeeping manager to electronically create and store tasks rather than having to write them out.
“When the housekeeper marks the lodge as green in RMS, the customer receives a text in real-time saying their lodge is ready. They’ll also receive the barrier number and the code for the key safe, so they don't have to go to reception at all. That's worked really well, and the onset from that will be then adding other modules in.
“From a revenue management side, we’ve seen the importance of not devaluing the product too far ahead. Looking six weeks ahead, you might think you’ve got a lot of stock still and potentially put the prices down, but I think it's about maintaining and believing in the product and so far that's come good for us.”
Delivering guest satisfaction in 2020 and beyond
The customer feedback so far in relation to the package of changes Matt and his team have introduced has been really good.
“Our virtual check-in has been hugely successful; as well as saving us time and money, it's also assured our customers that they no longer have to go to reception; they can check-in online, pay their balances and order newspapers and other extras all from their mobile.
“The online check-in and customers having access to their units straight away has been really well received."
Tune in to our chat with Matt: