From it’s first date of onset in China, COVID-19 has now nearly completed a full 12 month rotation around the sun. It’s shadow has been cast around the world but with caution and safety, people are learning to live with it. Individuals are now figuring out ways of adapting their routines to suit this changing world. With no complete conclusion in sight, various industries have started adapting to this life as well. Whilst at the whims of external forces, hotels must also be overly cautious and intelligent about their next steps. Customers require both trust and incentive to leave their homes but savvy operators can capitalize on growing trends in different markets around the world. We’ve identified five key requirements of hoteliers in order to remain safe and competitive in the days, months and possibly years to come.
Keeping any living space clean has become a global imperative and hotels have generally been global leaders in ensuring well sanitized spaces for their customers. Deploying best practice cleaning procedures is now a must including:
- Frequent cleaning rotations of public areas
- In-depth deep cleaning of rooms before check-in
- Cleaners and staff to be tested for COVID, using necessary PPE and constantly sanitizing themselves
- Cleaning supplies must be upgraded to ensure maximum protection
Hotels must also ensure their guests are maintaining cleanliness standards and therefore ensure a constant supply sanitizing products for guests.
- Contactless services
As the planet adapts, people have become increasingly wary of unnecessary human contact. With social distancing being (more or less) adhered to sensibly around the globe, finding new ways to interact using minimal contact with guests is an important part of a future-proof strategy. As a service-driven industry, it can be difficult to imagine experiences going contactless and the reality is, some people will always prefer human touch. However, the pandemic has sped up a trend to allow people the option of interacting with businesses in using contactless methods. Moving forward, providing this option to guests will be an important part of a hotel’s Marcomms strategy. Technology is playing a huge role in helping services become contactless. Particularly useful in our current environment are The use of AI to automate communication and using QR codes to help reduce the need for physical collaterals like menus, FAQs and other operational materials.
Disclosure: ‘avendi’ proudly provides an AI Concierge for hotels, helping them move into this contactless space, improve TRevPAR and provide communication options for their guests.
During this time of increasing uncertainty, many travel operators (tour companies, hotels or airlines for example) are seeing the value of offering flexibility to their customers. This can be by offering improved cancellation or rebooking policies, improving the effectiveness of customer service teams or promotional strategies to incentivize trip postponements rather than cancellations. By offering guests flexibility, travel businesses can help them book with the confidence that should things go wrong, they won’t lose their money.
- Domestic-specific Marketing Campaigns
With international travel being near impossible, brands need to focus on ways to mobilize their domestic markets. By being creative with offerings and targeting different segments of markets most likely to still be in employment or have disposable income, hotels can look to shore up their losses and put themselves in a sustainable position through this difficult time. As conditions improve, it is these properties who have been proactive which will benefit most.
- Creating new Revenue sources
It’s possible to see the pandemic as an opportunity to diversify the revenue streams on offer through a property. Over the years, hotels have been content to focus purely on room rates as their primary revenue stream and many have considered their secondary revenue streams as bonuses rather than integral to strategy. Now is the time to devote considerable attention to ensuring hotel ancillary services are competitive with other services in the surrounding areas. This could mean re-imagining bar and dining experiences to attract local crowds, improving the quality or reducing pricing of spa and massage services to compete locally or re-imagining spaces to provide entirely new offerings like co-working spaces or local markets, takeout and packaged foods and more.
The key to remember for both creating new revenue streams and adhering to each point above is to realize that the purpose is creating new value for guests and customers; value which is tailored to the times we live in. By creating new value propositions, properties and brands will be rewarded with not only sustainability through the hard times, but increased profitability and revenue into a bright future.