After the tectonic shift that was the inception of COVID-19, the hospitality sector found itself in troubled waters. Global travel restrictions paired with in-person restrictions and widespread consumer concern left hospitality professionals with rising costs and diminished cash flow. A sector still in crisis-mode, some operations have made it safely back to shore; others are still navigating choppy seas in lifeboats.
Fortunately, there are signs of blue skies ahead. Without running the risk of speaking too soon, the market shows a rebounded interest in domestic travel, especially in regions where the case count is down. According to a report by McKinsey & Company, it could take four to seven years for international travel to return to 2019 rates. But demand for domestic travel, local stays and short term rentals is already coming back online; people have been working from home, and families have been cooped up between four walls for too long. Almost everyone could use a change in scenery—even if it’s only a stone’s throw away from home.
Catering to and managing the new domestic travel demand will require new heights of operational coordination on the part of hospitality professionals. But one guest priority comes before all: travel isn’t feasible if it isn’t safe. And safe travel isn’t scalable if it’s not powered by technology.
Making Sales Smarter
It’s a long and winding road back to recovered revenue, and hospitality professionals can use all the help that they can get. The new consumer demand is dynamic, and market trends are still taking shape. The ease with which hospitality professionals are able to adjust to changed demand will determine the speed at which they’ll recover. But anticipating demand and tweaking listings accordingly requires a smarter approach.
Automated technology can be the bridge to better sales. Currently, guests want space. Multi-bedroom accommodations, two day or longer bookings, premium nightly rates, and properties within ten miles of city centers without too much hotel-density. All of the above are insights made possible through smart technology. And all of those factors are subject to change.
With an investment in the right automated marketing technology, hoteliers will be armed with this kind of knowledge and able to adjust their listings accordingly. Advanced marketing technology can automatically adjust a hotelier’s listing, optimizing pricing and stay-lengths based on current market needs. A hotelier with a property offering that meets all of the above is well-positioned to charge a premium rate, while other operations might concede on pricing or advertise different amenities. In the coming months, COVID-recovery will be a numbers game. Luckily, frontier hoteliers can have technology on their team.
Making Safety Simple
In a pre-COVID world, cleaning practices and protocols took place behind the scenes. Now, health is at the top of every guest’s checklist, and transparency is key. Investments in smarter sanitation technology have quickly become a customer benchmark. People need to see the clean in order to believe it. From placing a seal on the guest’s door to detailing the cleaning process on an integrated app platform, hoteliers have quickly learned that the process needs to be visual.
An investment in hands-free technology is an investment in peace of mind. Automatic doors, hands-free soap dispensers, and temperature control systems that sync with a guest’s smartphone are the new must-haves. Most professionals are taking things one step further and investing in user-platforms that allow their guests to book a beach chair or a dinner table to be cleaned ahead of time. Intuitive intra-stay booking platforms help a guest understand which spaces are safe for their use, and help a cleaning team prioritize the sanitation of in-demand or freshly used spaces.
Once hoteliers have made the investments to ensure each guest space is properly sanitized, one question remains: how does a guest get from their vehicle to their room without taking too many risks? The answer is simple in theory: take the staff out of the equation. But offering a fully autonomous check-in is harder said than done.
Luckily, this is another area in which smart technology is helping hoteliers step up to the plate. Integrated booking platforms can allow a guest to check themselves in—safely, independently, and hassle-free. Smart tech can support a smartphone check-in, a virtual identity verification, and hands-free access control; all of this, and more, at scale. Hands-free technology is solving the problem of the overcrowded hotel lobby, the long check-in line, and the contaminated get-away. These capacities are, without a doubt, the future of post-COVID hospitality.
Tech is shaping the recovery of the hospitality industry. Hoteliers have an opportunity to improve their positioning for a return to domestic travel activity. Automated marketing technologies that can adjust listings to reflect changed consumer demand are the best way to prepare for the uncertainty ahead. Smarter sanitation paired with transparent protocols and hassle-free, hands-free check-in technology; this is the new language of consumer loyalty. Hospitality professionals that can make those investments will see new waves of demand in the short-term, until a full recovery means smoother sailing ahead.
About the Author
Emir Dukic is the CEO of Rabbu, a frontier flexible rental asset management platform. With proprietary technology, Rabbu automates all aspects of asset management—from procurement to marketing to operations to tenant health and safety. Rabbu helps property investors and managers supercharge their operations, eradicate contact, and manage their assets across major rental platforms: Airbnb, Zillow, Booking.com, Expedia and more.