Next week I’m heading out on my first post-covid trip, a week-long vacation to Halifax. Years ago going to Halifax would have been the easiest trip I could take. I spent many years living in Cole Harbour as a kid and I truly feel at home there. But fast-forward to now and as I’m planning and researching, things are just different. I’m not just searching up “Things to do in Halifax”, I’m also interested in knowing how I’m going to be safe while I’m there.
And I’m not the only one. The mindset of the modern traveller has changed drastically in the past two years. Most of us are now thinking about a lot more than whether our AirBnB has a hot tub or not. I’m now pondering what our hotel’s cleaning policies are and how has the city changed since covid? Is it harder to get around? What can and can’t we do? Do I need to fill out waivers or screening forms before I arrive?
Is Your Tourism Website Covid-Friendly?
The pandemic has changed how I think and feel about travelling. And as I try to prepare as much as possible for my first trip in the world of Covid, one thing I’m noticing is that most websites don’t talk about Covid at all. There are some tourism operators out there like the Artisan Inn & Vacation Homes in Trinity, NL and the Prince George Hotel in Halifax who have done a great job at arming their guests with information about their Covid procedures and requirements, but many websites have yet to add this information. Have you adapted your website to make it covid-friendly and address the questions and concerns that the modern traveller now has?
If you haven’t yet, fear not! Here are 7 tips on how you can make your website Covid-Friendly for future guests.
BONUS TIP: Install a Notification Bar on the top of your Homepage
One of the first question a person will have when they land on your website is “Is your business still open?”, and that needs to be addressed as quickly as possible.
What you can do right now is add a bar across the top of your website, above the the menu using Easy Notification Bar that says “Check out our latest Covid updates” or “We’re still operating. Check out our current hours of operation”. As small as that sounds, it does make a huge different. Very important to let customers know this information until we’re out of this completely. Just make sure to add a button that links to the new “Travel Information” page you’ll create when you read the next section. Check out how The Claddagh Inn in St. Mary’s Bay, Newfoundland has used this tactic to communicate with guests.
Create a new page dedicated to Travel Information
You might not think so, but your customers and guests want to know how your business has adapted to the changes that Covid-19 has caused. This information is beneficial to both new ones who have no idea what to expect and returning guests who might already have expectations about the service they’ll receive. Call this page
“Covid Updates” or “Travel Information” and keep it up-to-date as changes happen. There’s nothing more frustrating for a potential customer than out-dated information.
Explain how the customer experience has changed
On the page you just created, load it up with information about policy changes you’ve made. Explain what measures you have put in place to ensure their visit is as safe as possible and outline any changes you’ve made that will affect their time with you (good or bad!) Do you now offer contactless check-in at your B&B? Have you stopped daily housekeeping services? Will dining reservations or tour experiences be limited to groups of a certain size? Do you provide dividers to partition shared tables? Are masks still mandatory in your space? These are just a sample of the questions that travellers may have before visiting your establishment. You’ll save yourself tons of time if you don’t have to answer the same questions over and over again!
Share information about Covid changes in the surrounding area
If you’re operating an accommodation, this is especially important. You’re the expert in how their experience outside your four walls may be different now and you should share this information with them. Travellers might benefit from knowing such things as whether restaurants in the area are operating on reduced hours or closed altogether? Are taxis or other riding-hailing apps harder to get? Are certain popular attractions closed?
Create a Frequently Asked Questions section
If you get the same questions frequently, consider using an Accordion Plugin like Easy Accordion to feature your most popular requests in the form of questions and answers. This will also cut down on the time spent answering the same questions. You should also include a link to this page (and the FAQ section) in emails you send to guests before they arrive!
Use your website to collect waivers, contact tracing info or vaccination records before arrival
Many tourism & hospitality businesses require the collection of some form of personal data upon arrival. You could require guests to fill out a waiver to acknowledge acceptance of new policies. Some restaurants require guests to fill out a contact tracing form. And more recently, locations have started requiring proof of vaccination records from individuals. If you need to collect info or documents from guests, you can use a contact form plugin such as Gravity Forms to help you do this. Gravity Forms offers businesses an easy way to get signatures on waivers and have guests upload PDF copies of vaccination records. Collecting these online prior to arrival decreases the need for additional time face-to-face. It also keeps records secure and already stored online.
Clearly outline your Cancellation Policy
If there’s one thing that’s changed drastically since the start of the pandemic, it’s cancellation policies. You likely have a stricter policy regarding cancellations and you need to communicate this to your guests. Make sure you clearly state what your new policy is and don’t be afraid to tell them why your policy has changed. You can also use Gravity Forms to have guests sign a waiver before their arrival agreeing to the policy you have in place.
Provide guests with required travel forms
Is your business located in a province that requires visitors to submit a Travel Form before they can be approved to leave the airport? Or maybe certain provinces are exempt from these rules? Use your new “Travel Information” page to share a link to the forms that guests may be required to fill out and include these in any email correspondence with them prior to their arrival.
There you have it. Use the information here to build your brand new “Travel Information” page and your guests will thank you for it. It will take a while to return to the state of travel as we once knew it, but in the meantime, we have to do everything we can to give guests the best experience possible. No one knows this information like you do, so don’t be afraid to share it. Just don’t forget to keep the information updated as restrictions change!
And hopefully, before you know it, you might be archiving this new page altogether and welcoming everyone back like it was 2019 😉