Social scaremongering is tourism’s worst ally. As has happened on other occasions with adverse atmospheric phenomena or in regions where there is certain political instability, a destination can see a drastic drop in its visitors if we are not careful with the information we give of the facts.
When we choose to acquire a position of excessive panic about a disease such as Coronavirus, the lack of information or, rather, letting ourselves be carried away by sensationalist images instead of quality journalism, can cause a great crisis in many tourist regions. It can also do so, of course, when it comes to catching a plane, travelling on a cruise or, in our case, choosing a hotel.
It is clear that the impact of coronavirus has caused a slowdown in the tourism sector. Due to its spread to some European cities, such as in northern Italy and some cases in Spain, we have begun to notice an increase in cancellations and a decrease in reservations. We also believe that the use of information that has been made in certain cases is counterproductive and irresponsible. While public bodies invite tranquillity and prudence, some media show hotels in quarantine, with guests unable to leave, or seek the sensationalist part of the events.
For its part, the Canary Islands continue to be a safe tourist destination. The public institutions state that we have the capacity to continue receiving travellers with absolute normality, both in tourist areas and in the rest of the islands. The episode of coronavirus in Tenerife is in the final phase after the action of the health authorities who, following the protocols marked by the WHO, have managed to limit the five positive cases of coronavirus COVID-19, who continue to improve and in good health.
Measures that you must adopt in your hotel
First of all, do not hesitate to remind your employees through a little training, the basic hygiene rules recommended to protect you from Coronavirus:
- Perform frequent hand hygiene.
- When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, then throw it away.
- Avoid close contact (shaking hands, kissing or hugging) with people who cough or sneeze.
- Maintain a distance of at least 1 meter from people with symptoms of respiratory infection.
The same calm we ask from travellers should be adopted by you. Adopting measures that your Revenue Management team would not otherwise apply can generate some distrust. Actions such as lowering prices in excess because of cancellations you may have had can set off alarms. Lowering prices will only attract the same audience that has already decided to come but at a lower cost. The best strategy is undoubtedly to make cancellation policies more flexible, supported by the marketing department, to make travellers aware that this is a good booking opportunity. All this, without altering prices, as we have already mentioned and, for a specific period of time, like any other campaign.
Using your social networks as a customer service channel is the best way to maintain an active communication channel. Don’t be afraid to share with your guests the health measures taking place in the bowels of your accommodation, as well as to share full information from the social profiles of public bodies that strive to mitigate the negative effects of misinformation.
Regarding air frequency, we believe that it may be affected in certain cities, but, as long as the contingency of the disease in Spain continues with the positive course it is taking to prevent its spread, we do not believe that it will affect this area. For its part, Ryanair has announced the reduction of short-haul flights to and from Italy by up to 25% in a period of 3 weeks in response to the Coronavirus. In recent weeks, the company says it has seen a drop in bookings for the period from Tuesday 17 March to Wednesday 08 April. They have also confirmed an increase in the absence of passengers for this destination. One way to check the status of flights is through the Aena website.