Travel is coming back in a big way this summer after two years of pandemic challenges. Of course, this is exciting for hotels, but it comes with the pressure to meet new guest demands in innovative ways. To meaningfully serve guests post-pandemic and ready your property for a busy summer season, it’s important to understand some of the most significant changes in the industry.
1. Keep Sustainability Top of Mind
The environmental impact of travel continues to rise in our society’s consciousness. To make a difference on their vacation, many guests will pay more for an eco-friendly trip. There are several steps hotels can take to help guests make sustainable decisions while also reducing their carbon footprint.
Start with simple improvements like placing recycling bins in lobbies and hallways. Move away from using single-use plastics like water bottles and toiletries by replacing them with alternatives such as water bottle filling stations and large bottles of soap and shampoo fixed to the shower. Invest in easy facility changes like moving to LEDs. If your property has a restaurant on-site, consider partnering with local growers or a farmers’ market. This will reduce emissions associated with food transportation and give your culinary team the chance to showcase seasonal, regional flavors while supporting your community. Even something as small as starting an herb garden for your kitchen can make an impact.
2. Cater to Domestic Travelers
Travelers are staying close to home and favoring domestic travel, resulting in shorter, more frequent trips. One tactic for capitalizing on local travel is to offer special rates for nearby guests, such as in-state discounts. Or, since domestic travelers travel more, encourage repeat visits with a preferred guest or loyalty program with members-only perks.
While these guests aren’t crossing the globe to stay with you, that doesn't mean they aren't looking for new experiences. Provide the chance to try something different by organizing unique events like themed cooking demonstrations with your head chef or a mixologist class with your bartender.
3. Focus on Health and Wellness
Living through a pandemic has made health and wellness a top priority for many travelers. This trend goes beyond healthy eating and morning workouts - our industry is refocusing on mental health and self-care as people search for destinations where they can disconnect and press pause on the stresses of their daily lives.
Partner with local experts and businesses to curate a calendar of wellness-themed events and products for guests. Activations like yoga classes, guided meditations, and even lecture series can draw guests (and locals!) looking to improve their well-being.
For guests searching for solitude in their wellness practices, consider turning a smaller conference room or banquet space into a meditation room. It doesn't have to be fancy; just a quiet spot tucked away from the day's activity. With a little redecorating, ambient nature sounds, a soft place to sit, and a scent diffuser or two, your guests will have the perfect spot to recharge peacefully.
4. Invest in Contactless Tech
The pandemic may be over, but guests have made it clear that they like having digital options. To cater to this tech-first preference, hotel operators should provide guests with modern conveniences like self-check-in, two-way texting with your front desk team, and the ability to make mobile reservations. Reservation management systems with digital tools like guest portals, text message automation, and online booking engines are an excellent solution for managing your digital services from a central location.
From an operations perspective, smart software boosts revenue and provides a holistic view of the hotel – meaning owners and staff can keep closer tabs on profitability, product, and reservation trends. When staff has access to tools that make their job more efficient, they have more free time to cater to guest requests and provide the best experience possible.
5. Capitalize on Travel Demand
The demand for travel is high, and with summer just around the corner, it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Make the most of this demand by implementing marketing efforts to attract old and new guests alike. Catch the eyes of potential customers by refreshing your social media presence. Invest in branded creative assets, local happenings and attractions to generate interest in your area. Reach out to previous customers and put your property top-of-mind as a summer destination with eblasts promoting upcoming events. Create personalized offers for important dates like birthdays or anniversaries.
Guest expectations may have changed, but our industry's mission remains the same: to provide memorable experiences and bring people together through travel. By considering these trends, hoteliers can effectively elevate their properties to meet new traveler demands while boosting revenue and ushering in a new era of hospitality.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Equipped with a decade of experience in hospitality branding, Emily Teachout directs strategic initiatives, manages internal teams and spearheads public relations to drive engagement and awareness as marketing brand manager for Solonis.