With recent optimism surrounding multiple vaccines for COVID-19, the hospitality industry as a whole was provided something that has been lacking over the past year – hope. While 2020 has been a challenge, to say the least, it appears as though would-be travelers are focusing on making plans to travel again in 2021. Although the vaccines won’t be readily available for many months at the earliest, hotels must remain vigilant and be ready to accept guests for when the time comes.
However, the reality is that the travel landscape has likely changed for good, especially when it comes to the health and safety measures that were implemented as a result of this pandemic. New procedures that have been added at the airport, or guest’s desires to check-in remotely and communicate with hotel staff via their mobile device are likely here to stay for the long haul.
While we would all like for things to return to ‘normal’ in 2021, it is looking more likely that hotels will have to continue operating as they have been for the foreseeable future. For hotels that have been delaying the inevitable, the time is now to start preparing your hotel for success in 2021. Here are some ways you can do just that.
Maintain flexible options.
In the early stages of the pandemic, it became abundantly clear that travelers wanted the flexibility to either cancel or change their reservations without any hassle. Understandably so, this presented a challenge for hoteliers as they struggled with new regulations, changes in traveler sentiment, and reduced occupancy rates – among other things. With a lot of unknowns currently, and likely for at least the first half of 2021, it is essential that hoteliers continue to give travelers more options to adjust their reservations as needed. According to a Fuel Travel Consumer Sentiment Study, nearly 70% of respondents stated that ‘flexibility to change dates without penalty’ would most likely persuade them to book future travel, clearly demonstrating the importance of providing flexible booking options.
The other option is to reduce rates with less flexibility, which some hotels have opted for, but this not only reduces profitability, it also eliminates travelers looking for hotels with flexible reservations. While this may not seem like a big deal, having flexible policies could make or break a traveler’s decision to select one hotel versus another. This is why it is imperative hotels continue offering flexible packages until there is more concrete evidence the pandemic is ending. If your hotel is not doing this already, it might be something to consider until this is all behind us. Ensure you’re in a position for success by integrating the right hotel reservation software for your property.
Upgrade hotel technology.
With all of the buzz surrounding staff-less hotels with cutting edge technology, the reality is that for most hotels this type of change in technology and infrastructure is simply not attainable. In addition, as discussed in our recent webinar The Contactless Journey, guests actually ranked checking in via a touchscreen kiosk in the lobby as the least preferred option when asked what their ideal method of checking in would be. Rather, respondents selected either checking in at the front desk or via a mobile app as their top ranking options. What this means for hotels is that simple upgrades to their technology can make a big difference when it comes to earning business in 2021.
There has been a lot of talk over the past few months about contactless technology, and with all of the changes as a result of the pandemic impacting the hospitality industry, it is easy to see why. While some view the ability to check in and out remotely, use digital keys, and engage with hotel staff through text messaging as a trend, most would contend that these changes are here to stay. In fact, many believed that these changes would have occurred eventually, and this pandemic has simply sped up the process to get us there. With that being said, it is important to either implement a hotel PMS cloud software solution with these capabilities, or upgrade your existing system to include contactless technology. By analyzing what technology is currently in place, as well as doing research as to what’s available in the market, your hotel can determine what is needed to sufficiently upgrade technology and meet customer demands.
Plan ahead for new trends.
This pandemic has left its impact on everyone throughout the world, and as a result, most people have had to make changes and adjustments to their lives. Having said that, changes to the hospitality industry are expected and new trends are emerging as we move into 2021. For example, certain trends have become apparent such as a rise in local travel, smaller group bookings, more personalized experiences, and as mentioned earlier in this article, more travelers expecting more contactless functionality. While it will be hard to appeal to all of these trends, the key is identifying which are attainable for your property and addressing those accordingly. Additionally, it would not be wise to assume these trends will only be around for a short period of time, as that could potentially leave a hotel at risk of quickly falling behind the competition.
Knowing this, how can hotels adapt to these new emerging trends? While there is no ‘silver bullet’ to address all of these, there are ways hotels can enhance their presence to meet these needs. For example, leveraging social media or your current website to highlight the fact that your property is ideal for smaller groups, could appeal to those looking to smaller conferences or weddings. Developing short videos showing the unique or interesting aspects of your hotel could also drive curiosity and appeal to those looking for a more personalized experience. Ensuring your hotel is visible in the local online listings such as Google and Bing could appeal to those looking for local hotels within driving distance. Regardless of what new trends arise, they key is to stay ahead of the curve and always remain updated with what travelers are currently looking for. That way, your hotel can develop a plan to address any new trends, which will go a long way to preparing your property for success in 2021 and beyond.
Looking to upgrade your hotel’s technology in 2021 and beyond? Request a demo today and get an in-depth look at our cloud-based property management software, staff and guest mobile solutions, as well as our contactless technology, which have all been designed to modernize and streamline hotel operations.