I’ve written quite a lot recently about how consumer sentiment towards safety and risk has changed more in the past 9 months than it has for the majority of my life. Until recently safety was a given. If you visited a shop or a restaurant you expected to be safe. No one was banging on about it and using it as a reason to visit them. Walt Disney World would seem a lot less magical if their marketing message was “Come and enjoy the safety of Walt Disney World Resort.”
A really good example of how this has changed has been TripAdvisor introducing their “Travel Safe” tools. If you’re not aware of them, TripAdvisor describe them as tools that allow consumers to find, filter for, and validate health and safety information to feel more confident with their future travel choices across town and around the world. In short, it gives their customers the ability to quickly work out who is taking Covid seriously.
Or does it?
Personally, I think it’s something slightly different. I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that every business that is featured on TripAdvisor is doing everything in their power to take Covid seriously and that the levels they go to will very much depend on resources. What I think the “Travel Safe” tools are actually doing is giving the business an opportunity to articulate the measures that they’ve taken to people on TripAdvisor. And for me, this is a really important point. Being Covid safe isn’t enough. You’ve got to tell your customers. You’ve got to put their minds at ease that you’ve taken measures to reduce the risk.
Let’s take a look at some numbers. On a recent consumer sentiment survey TripAdvisor published, these were three of the takeaway stats:
- More than 9 out of 10 (92%) said cleanliness is the most important factor in selecting accommodations.
- More than 8 in 10 (84%) said cleanliness or sanitization certificates are important when booking a travel experience.
- Nearly 8 in 10 (79%) said it’s important to publicly display compliance to government safety standards.
To paraphrase – be safe and tell me that you’re safe. Because unlike previously, if you don’t tell me you are safe, I’m not going to give you the benefit of the doubt. I’m going to stay away.
I had a quick look at TripAdvisor to see how many restaurants in London were safe. There are just short of 20,000 restaurants. The filter, quite handily, is the first filter in the list of options, under the title Covid19. It’s called Restaurants taking safety measures. When you apply that filter, the number of restaurants reduces to 479. Do you believe that only 2% of London restaurants are safe? No, me either. But if you were planning to go for a meal in London, would you risk it on one of the 98%? No, me either.
If you look at New York there are 11k restaurants of which only 50 are apparently “safe”. Rome has a similar number of restaurants, but 379 are “safe”. Remember, if you don’t say you’re safe, then you’re a risk.
No one in the hospitality industry needs me to tell them of how influential TripAdvisor is, and the impact it has on their results. They say that 439 million people use the site every month so letting all of these people know you’ve put things in place to keep them safe is a bit of a no brainer.
But as well as this, those people are going to look at your reviews too to see what your previous customers have said about their experience.
Purple customers have been making use of our TripAdvisor connector for years to automate requesting reviews from their customers. It’s important that you ask for reviews as it’s been proven time and again that customers who have had a bad experience are much more motivated to leave a review than someone who had a good experience.
When you compare the results, businesses using our connector receive on average 40% more reviews and the quality of the reviews are almost half a star higher, than those that don’t use the connector. So if you get on the front foot with reviews, you will definitely benefit.
You can go further though in communicating with customers on what they can expect. We’ve recently launched our new occupancy product which allows you to accurately understand how many people you have in a venue in real-time and historically. There are a ton of benefits to this, but I’ll focus on a couple.
The first is that the information can be pushed into other systems via API – so you can keep customers abreast of your busy times on your website. You can also deliver the information to screens, maybe at entrances or outside bathrooms so customers are always kept informed.
The second is gathering feedback from your customers directly, beyond just asking for a review. You may feel that what you are doing is making your venue feel safe, but the only way to truly test this is by asking your customers. Using Purple you can push safety specific surveys to your visitors and review the responses in our Social Responsibility Dashboard (along with the occupancy data I mentioned above).
The hospitality industry has been hit really hard this year with the restrictions that have been imposed as a result of Covid and it’s likely the effects will be felt for some time yet. Part of the recovery will be based on how well businesses are able to make their customers feel secure, and safety as a differentiator will become bigger and bigger.