2021 was a year interrupted by COVID-19 and, during April and May, all properties managed by Wyndham Destinations Asia Pacific across the Asia Pacific region were closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. During that time, the operations team worked with US parent company Wyndham Destinations and global hygiene expert Ecolab to rework hygiene procedures to represent industry best practice.
This involved retraining resort staff, resetting common spaces for social distancing, sterilizing room keys and improving prevalence of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. The team even re-worked all staff procedures to minimize cross-contamination – going so far as to pair housekeeping staff together for the day, regulating numbers in the lunch room and specifying how shared phones are used. This work provided the marketing, communications and social media teams with a favorable announcement to share.
Once the changes had been made, the communications and marketing teams were tasked with spreading the word to people returning to the properties. Considering the year, informing owners and guests that the properties were safe was going to be the most important announcement of the year.
The targets for the communication where hotel guests and owners or members of three timeshare clubs: Club Wyndham South Pacific, Club Wyndham Asia and Innovative Holiday Club by Club Wyndham.
The campaign concept was created internally and was designed to be as straightforward and reassuring as possible, emphasizing the critical points:
• Cleaning had been stepped up, particularly at high-touch points
• Housekeeping was going to be more stringent
• The procedures were created with the advice of a global leader in hygiene
• Even behind-the-scenes procedures had been considered
The campaign included the following:
• Media releases notifying industry press of the changes in the weeks prior and a release in local markets to coincide with the opening of each property. These media releases were accompanied with a video and TV grabs outlining the procedures released to media, on social media and online.
• One resort, Wyndham Grand Phuket Kalim Bay, a five-star resort in Thailand, created an exclusive experience tailor-built around the idea of social distancing, which ensured guests and timeshare owners could stay at the resort in relative solitude. It achieved coverage in the US Hotels magazine.
• Development of a dedicated TV channel for Club Wyndham owners, which incorporated content on the new COVID-19 protocols
• A weekly Resort Report update emailed to club owners keeping them updated on refurbishments, deep cleans and the new procedures
• Notification of the new procedures on the club and corporate website
• A feature story in the Club Wyndham South Pacific magazine, Club Wyndham
• Social media posts both in the club’s private Facebook group and on public-facing pages about the new measures.
• A video about new cleanliness and hygiene procedures – what to expect upon check in is emailed to owners before they check-in
Club Wyndham South Pacific owners have rated the marketing efforts highly, with timeshare owners rating the statement that “guidelines, signage and information meant to keep me safe is visible and easy to follow” at a 9.07, while the statement that “pre-arrival communication was clear regarding the extra precautions Wyndham is taking to ensure my safety during my stay” was rated at an 8.81. Furthermore, those surveyed gave a rating of 8.89 or higher to statements that health, safety and wellbeing was a top priority of Wyndham and that the company had taken the necessary hygiene steps.
Cleaning ratings by November had risen five per cent to 8.87, up from 8.47 for the period across January to May.
Customer feedback shows that the marketing campaign, coupled with work at the resort level, has put the minds of owners and guests at ease:
• “We were very happy especially with the COVID precautions.”
• “Great COVID precautions taken.”
• “Although COVID is in our thoughts constantly, we felt safe and enjoyed our stay.”
• “It was a pleasure to stay once again, and all credit must be given to the staff for their friendliness and also to the cleaning staff for ensuring not only mine but other customer’s health and safety.”
• “Wyndham is doing a really good job to make everyone feel safe.”
• “Everything was done in accordance with the COVID safe plan.”
• “Explanations were given to keep us informed re COVID-19 safety. We felt safe.”