Hotels need to understand the c level of customers

image: Francisco Peco Torres, with Professor Ana Isabel Polo Peña and Professor Dolores María Frías Jamilena.
to see Continued

Credit: University of Granada

The perception of the physical and emotional risk caused by COVID-19 among hotel guests influences their decision-making when it comes to deciding whether or not to stay in this type of establishment. Thus, hotel companies that base the design of their marketing and communication campaigns on this variable will benefit from it to make their offer attractive.

This is demonstrated by a study carried out by Francisco Peco-Torres of the Department of Marketing and Market Research at the University of Granada, in collaboration with Ana Isabel Polo-Peña and Professor Dolores María Frías-Jamilena.

The study also seeks to determine how resilience – the individual’s ability to easily recover from stressful situations and adapt to contexts characterized by uncertainty – can help consumers adapt to the “new normality” caused by COVID-19 in the hospitality sector.

A quantitative empirical study was conducted among Spanish hotel guests. The analysis showed that when the customer perceives a physical and emotional risk associated with staying in a hotel due to COVID-19, it reduces their intention to resume their consumption of hotel accommodation following the pandemic whereas the virus is still present in the population. The physical risk is the extent to which the consumer perceives that it is possible to contract the virus in a hotel, while the emotional risk is the fear that due to the situation caused by the pandemic, the hotel experience will not be proves unsatisfactory and can cause mental overload. In this scenario, according to Peco Torres, “consumer resilience helps reduce perceived physical and emotional risk.”

The results show that the more the consumer is resilient, the better he will adapt to the new situation and the less risk he will perceive. In turn, the less risk they perceive, the more they intend to return to hotels again, even with COVID-19 still present.

Adapt hotel marketing and communication

Research has highlighted the role of resilience in consumer decision-making, showing that hospitality companies need to consider this individual capacity when designing their marketing and communications plans. “One way to integrate consumer resilience into these plans would be to segment consumers according to their degree of resilience, distinguishing between two types of consumers,” explains Francisco Peco.

On the one hand, less resilient individuals will perceive a higher degree of risk and will present a low intention to resume their consumption of hotel accommodation. According to this study, companies wishing to target this segment in their communications should emphasize the anti-COVID-19 security measures taken by the hotel, in order to demonstrate that the protection of their customers is their top priority. It would also be useful to point out the emotional cost of missing out unnecessarily sure tourism experiences.

On the other hand, more resilient consumers will perceive hotels as having a lower degree of risk and will show a higher level of intention to return. Communication aimed at this segment should take a more commercial approach that motivates consumers to return for tourism experiences. It would also be appropriate to adopt a social approach to communications targeted at this consumer profile, to make people understand the importance of their habit and their confidence for the survival of the hotel sector and all the jobs it generates.

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