Communicating with Your Hospitality Customers during COVID

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This is a follow-on from our previous blog post: Using Social Media to Connect With Customers During COVID-19. Read more to find out about how the hospitality have been communicating with their own customers!

Despite hope for economic resurgence, and businesses in affected countries slowly reopening under strict new safety guidelines, no one knows what the hospitality industry will look like in a week, a month, or a year from now.  Digital communication channels (website, social media, email newsletter) are therefore more important than ever in communicating vital information and connecting with customers. 

You can now reach out to your customers directly to keep them updated and let them know what you’re doing amid this unprecedented situation. It’s a resource that would have been impossible even 10 years ago, so be sure to use these digital channels to keep the lines of communication open between you and your guests. 

But no matter what the scenario, patience and understanding are crucial when grappling to survive COVID-19, and your communications shouldn’t be treated any differently. 

Here are 5 tips to help you communicate your business to your customers and community:

1. MENU MENU MENU

As your potential customers shift to discovering new restaurants/cafe/bars digitally, it is essential to ensure your digital presence includes your biggest marketing tool – your menu. 

Food and the food you serve is the reason customers engage with your business. 

Menus hold a lot of power. It is the hard work of your chefs that brings your concept to life. 

There are many channels you can use to market your business – but making sure your menu is visible on your website, searchable online and is up to date might be the most powerful marketing tool you have. 

Your menu should be available on all relevant websites so that you reach the largest audience possible, and so that your restaurant is as searchable as possible. These include but are not limited to: 

The links above include helpful information on how to set them up.

It’s your responsibility to provide customers with accurate information. You wouldn’t want potential guests showing up on a day when you’re closed, and the same goes for your menu. 

Having an old, outdated menu available online can hurt your reputation and upset customers who are disappointed that you got rid of the menu item they were excited to order. Make sure the expectations are correct.

Having your menu be the exact same on every site is not only great for marketing but builds customer trust and loyalty.

2. Ramp Up Communications on Social Media

Social media is essentially a free tool for you to communicate and advertise your business, but also to help you connect, person-to-person.  Do not underestimate the power of the social connections you can make online, which can then translate into real life.

Speak from the heart: address that this isn’t business as usual, and ask for support and empathy in this difficult time.

Safety: If you’ve remained open for just takeout and delivery, reassure your customers and explain your health and safety measures. Communicate how you’ve increased these safety precautions by having your staff wear gloves or masks, and why you have implemented these measures.

Online ordering: Off-premise dining sales have increased dramatically. Guests are looking at your social channels for updates on if you’re still operating and, if so, how to order from you. Let your customers know whether to order from your website or an app, what pickup and delivery options you offer, and what your hours are. Make sure these are communicated on all your channels, not just your preferred one:  a Google search by a customer can bring up all social media pages.

3. Communicate Changes Through Email

Email newsletters are a great way to reinforce your communications on social and ensure that your loyal guests who might not follow you get updates as well. You may have an email list somewhere which you haven’t utilised – check with reservation services, or other online tech you’ve used to see if customers have given you this information.  Be sure that they have also opted in to receive your newsletter before sending. 

Communicate much of the same information to your customers via the email newsletter as you have on your social channels, but utilise the ability to insert links and buttons that encourage action in your email e.g. a button that says ‘Book Now’  on it.

4. Update Your Website 

If you’re announcing your business changes through social media and email, you’ll need a place to link back to in order to drive your business. Make sure you have a page ready for people to order online or contact you directly. The website will be your hub for collecting revenue.

Your website should also reflect the same information you’ve provided through these customer communication channels in order to limit confusion. Make sure menus, ordering and booking information are up to date.  And of course that you have clear instructions on how to get in contact.  

5. Take Care of Your Community and Your Customers

To say customer communications is difficult during a time of crisis is a given – that’s why larger franchises and corporations have entire teams dedicated to crafting the perfect message. If you’re worried about how you come across, just keep in mind what your business and community mean to you: Staying true to your restaurant and acting with empathy and humility will help ensure your guests know you’re making the right decisions for your people. This is truly a time of great change and unpredictability, but also a time of united struggle:  there is goodwill out there for those who act in the community’s best interests. 

If you’re not used to interacting with your customers online, it can seem intimidating.But with these 5 simple tips, you can effectively connect with your community and customers, all with the aim to #bouncebackbetter.  

Are you doing your part for customers right now? If so, we’d love to know what you’re up to. Don’t hesitate to contact us by phone, email or social media if you have any questions:

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