The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on the hotel industry. Hotels have seen a 50% decline in revenue this year coupled with an 80% vacancy rate, and 2020 is projected to be the worst year on record for the industry as a whole.
It's for this reason that one hotel chain is thinking outside the box in its latest marketing initiative. Millennium Hotels and Resorts (MHR) has officially launched a yacht-cation escape package, which allows hotel guests to board a luxury yacht as part of their stay and enjoy a sailing adventure. While this package is currently available in Southeast Asia, if it proves successful, MHR could seek to expand it -- and other hotels might aim to offer similarly creative vacation packages.
A unique approach to a growing problem
The travel industry has been sluggish since the pandemic took hold. Not only are individuals cutting back on leisure travel due to safety concerns and financial constraints (let's not forget that millions of Americans have lost their jobs in the course of the ongoing recession), but companies are limiting business travel as well, opting for virtual conferences over in-person gatherings. All of this has battered the hotel industry, which is growing increasingly desperate for revenue by the day, so it's not surprising to see at least one hotel chain taking its marketing efforts in a brand-new direction.
This new offering from MHR is actually effective for a couple of reasons. First, it's different. Skittish travelers may be more willing to pack their bags and throw caution to the wind if, in return, they actually get to experience the wind in their hair. Furthermore, the yacht-cation can appeal to locals as well as visitors who need to board a plane to take advantage of it. That opens up a more extensive market.
Will more hotels follow suit?
The fact that one hotel chain has managed to get creative in a crunch doesn't mean that hotels will be magically saved. But if more hotels take a similar approach to drawing in guests, it could be just the thing that infuses some revenue into a struggling industry and calms investors' nerves.
Of course, offering yacht excursions won't be practical or possible for most hotels. But higher-end establishments may want to jump on MHR's good idea and start thinking of ways to offer a unique luxury experience that appeals to stay-cationers and out-of-towners alike. The near-term challenge, of course, will be crafting experiences that are exceptional yet safe. With the pandemic still raging, many otherwise good ideas will inevitably be off the table.
Still, right now, hotels need revenue to stay afloat until the pandemic ends and a surge in demand kicks in, and so operators and marketing gurus alike will need to put their thinking caps on and come up with different, cost-effective ways to entice guests to book a stay. This is especially important given that holiday travel will likely be slow due to the greater crisis at hand.