In the past year, the pandemic has transformed the hospitality landscape. In 2020, revenue per available hotel room fell by 50% in the U.S. and isn’t expected to recover before 2023. While the hospitality industry has struggled to stay afloat, the challenges it has faced have given rise to new priorities and trends that are sure to be relevant for years to come.
Reshaping Brands for the new consumer
Hotels will continue to adapt the hospitality experience to attract guests in new markets. The hospitality landscape is evolving with changing travel patterns. For example, extended-stay hotels have been faring better than traditional hotels as they serve a different and more distinct need. Traditional hotels have taken note of this shift and have taken steps to adjust their establishments to also offer extended-stay offerings to attract a broader audience.
Remote work and remote learning have also revolutionized the flexibility of guest schedules. While travelers – especially families with children – used to plan trips around work and academic schedules and vacationed mainly during holidays, they’re now taking ‘schoolcations’ and travel anywhere, anytime. Seizing an opportunity to generate additional revenue, hotels like Arlo Hotels with its “Arlo Office” are marketing their rooms as office spaces while others, like the Four Seasons Resort in Punta Mita, Mexico, are creating fun and safe ‘schoolcation’ experiences for families.
Doing More with Less
With budgets tightening dramatically, hotels are seeking ways to recapture lost revenue by doing more with less. We’ve seen numerous advantages achieved by hotels that were already using cloud technology or moved to the cloud during the pandemic. Running operations in the cloud removes IT complexities, allowing limited staff to better focus on guests. Even staff required to work remotely have full visibility into operations from wherever they are, increasing their efficiency. In addition, these hotels have been able to quickly adapt to changing market conditions and guest needs – whether implementing contactless check-in or marketing more effectively to a local audience.
Also critical to this effort is simplifying, streamlining, and connecting the technology ecosystem, especially enabling integrations with open APIs. Such efficiency establishes a new cost paradigm, and operationally, it enables and simplifies a number of use cases, many of them that are lower touch and, or lower labor, from the hotel perspective.
Guests expect to be given the option for touchless or low-touch experiences when traveling. This is unlikely to change. The good thing is that there are opportunities for these experiences through every stage of a guest’s hotel journey, many of which are already in place in hotels around the world.
Booking, for example, has largely been contactless for quite some time, but now we have the opportunity to add prepayment to the process and extend that contactless experience to pre check-in. Once at the hotel, guests can be offered a touchless or low-touch curbside check-in through mobile devices, kiosks, or the guest’s own device. Once their stay has concluded, they can also use the same methods to check out and pay seamlessly.
Attracting the Local Traveler
With the pandemic’s travel restrictions, those elaborate, complicated, and expensive vacations of the past have been replaced by simpler, shorter, and less costly drive-to getaways. This shift isn’t likely to change anytime soon as apprehensions about flying linger and consumers reconsider travel possibilities.
As a result, hotel operators are adopting new strategies and solutions to attract this new breed of travelers more frequently. For example, hotels are organizing special, socially-distanced events like wine tastings as a draw to get them to their properties. The Godfrey Hotel has a BYOB option to draw in family groups that want to get away together. In this case, BYOB stands for Bring Your Own Bubble where the Godfrey arranges special accommodations on a single floor with a communal room for dining, remote working, or just spending quality time together.
Focus on Safety
Lastly, we are all hopeful that with vaccine distribution underway, hotels can look forward to a booking resurgence. But no matter what the future holds, there will continue to be more focus on personal safety and cleanliness. It’s not that hotels were not clean and safe before; it’s just that hotels will now be required to be more public about their efforts. This will be key to getting business volume back and making guests feel safe.
About the Author
Laura is Vice President of Strategy and Solutions Management for Oracle Hospitality where she is responsible for charting the direction of Oracle Hospitality’s cloud services and solution portfolio for the hotels, casinos and cruise verticals.