While the pandemic is responsible for many properties experiencing decreased revenue and occupancy, there are ways that hoteliers can adapt and rise to the occasion to continue to build customer relationships and provide safe, memorable stays.
The following five hotel trends were gaining in popularity before the pandemic and their benefits are only strengthened now due to guest needs and expectations arisen from the crisis. By adopting these strategies, properties can boost their revenue and offer personalized service to their guests and the local community during the pandemic and beyond.
Contactless Communications & Check-in
Contactless technology is less of a rising trend and more of a necessity when running a hotel during COVID-19, although the advantages will continue long after the pandemic is over.
Through contactless check-in, guests are encouraged to engage with your property through pre-arrival messaging. Pre-arrival communications allow guests to experience the human side of your property well before they reach the front door, and hoteliers can inquire about guest preferences and gather guest data for personalizing stays. For a safe, seamless, and convenient check-in experience, guests can complete their registration online and receive check-in instructions automatically to directly access their room upon arrival.
In addition to providing personalized customer service, contactless check-in also supports the health and safety of your guests and staff. By checking in online and bypassing the front desk, physical interactions are limited and physical distancing is maintained, giving both your guests and staff peace of mind.
Market towards Local Travelers
While the world continues to see restricted and decreased international travel, hoteliers can focus on domestic demand to raise revenue and develop relationships with local guests.
Creating strategies to help local guests feel safe and welcome can help boost occupancy and foster a loyal customer base as well as support your local community’s morale by offering a dream vacation right at home! Embarking on a staycation is an attractive option for travelers who do not wish to fly, especially with travel restrictions, and is also budget friendly.
>>Focus on Food: Not having to prepare and cook one’s own food is one of the most compelling reasons to book a holiday. Take advantage of this by promoting your property’s dining services through packages and discounts, partnering with local eateries to offer guests discounts on deliveries, or simply by highlighting recommended local restaurants, cafés, and tasting rooms on your website and social media.
With most establishments experiencing decreased business because of the pandemic, partnering with and promoting local eateries is a great way to support your local economy and community during this time.
>>Activity Packages: While COVID may restrict events and prevent your guests from gathering together, you can promote activities that will still offer your guests memorable experiences and a feeling of togetherness. Highlight local outdoor experiences like mountain biking, zipline tours, and wildlife viewing, along with hidden gems like nature parks and wine tasting tours that offer private and small group tours.
>>Social Media: Remain active on social media to highlight local food, activities, and other experiences. This content is especially relevant to your local community and potential staycationers because it is a part of their everyday life and local experience. By sharing and promoting packages, discounts, and activities, you can entice nearby customers to book their getaway with you.
Wellness packages are another way to add value and personalization to the guest experience while providing an opportunity for hoteliers to increase their revenue during the pandemic. Wellness is a holistic approach to health and includes one’s mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health, so offering a broad range of activities, from walking and nature tours, to traditional spa services, to yoga and art classes, will allow guests to customize their experiences and recharge in the way that is best for them.
If you’re a smaller establishment without many on-site amenities, consider collaborating with a local yoga studio, spa, or artisan who makes organic bath products to offer guests something special and to support other local businesses that may be experiencing reduced revenue because of COVID-19.
As the pandemic significantly increases the need to take care of every aspect of our health, the wellness package sends a message to your guests that their needs are seen, heard, and will be fulfilled during their stay.
Flexible Change & Cancellation Policies
In the face of a rapidly evolving crisis and ever-changing health protocols, hoteliers must exercise flexibility and empathy towards their customers’ situations. Cautious travelers will be hesitant to book with properties that do not offer flexible change and cancellation policies in case of traveler illness or travel restrictions and lockdowns.
Help your guests be confident travel bookers during these uncertain times by removing non-refundable rates and penalties for canceled or changed reservations due to COVID-19. Also, where loyalty programs are in place, point expiry dates should be extended in consideration of travel restrictions and lockdowns.
The pandemic has emphasized the importance of working together, with everybody doing their small part to solve a collective problem. The same thinking applies to sustainability; if everybody does their part and participates in sustainable practices and thinking, we can all work together to keep our planet healthy. Hoteliers can do their part to encourage this unity by implementing some simple sustainable practices and policies:
>>Reduce Waste: Support sustainability by eliminating single-use plastics from your business (try using refillable toiletry dispensers), going paperless, and finding ways to reduce and deal with food waste.
>>Save Water: Install low-flow faucets and showerheads and introduce a linen reuse program to significantly cut back on excessive water usage. Encourage guests to participate in your business’ eco-friendly model by using smart showerheads, which alert guests through LED lights that time is up on their seven-minute shower.
>>Conserve Energy: Simple habits with big impacts include turning off lights and unused electronics when leaving a room. Technology can help by way of energy-efficient light bulbs, and room control systems that automatically turn off lights and AC when guests aren’t in their rooms.
>>Support Local: Supporting local not only improves your local economy, it’s also a sustainable practice. By sourcing local, the massive fuel emissions from long-distance transportation are eliminated, as well as the extra freezing, packaging, and waste.
While COVID-19 has had a profound negative impact on global health and the economy, it has also propelled some positive trends and technological advancements. The above hotel trends can help lodging operators continue to provide safe, personalized vacation experiences to their guests—and empower hoteliers to be creative and flexible to prioritize and maintain guest relationships, loyalty, and safety while maximizing revenue during the pandemic.