What can the hospitality industry expect to change as it recovers from COVID-19?
Everyone in hospitality is wondering the same thing right now in regards to the COVID-19 situation: when will business start to get back and what changes will it demand? Truth is – no one knows. It’s tough to develop projections on choices made from confidence and emotion. We are all waiting for the clouds to […]
Everyone in hospitality is wondering the same thing right now in regards to the COVID-19 situation: when will business start to get back and what changes will it demand? Truth is – no one knows. It’s tough to develop projections on choices made from confidence and emotion. We are all waiting for the clouds to lift. We can pull from some experiences of 9/11, the Great Recession and – to some degree – pandemics from almost 100 years ago. We’ve been talking to a few pros in the industry and listening to webinars like everyone else. We’ve assembled some thoughts on what changes could mean for the travel industry.
Technology Applied To Create a Contactless Environment
Changes and adoption of mobile apps. Although an app for restaurants and hotels is nothing new, the need has immediately changed. Now consumer safety and comfort is priority one. Hotels and consumer use of an app can allow transactions, keyless door entry and elevator button selection – all without touching anything other than your phone. Restaurants will consider changing their menu delivery. Instead of handing the same menu to every patron, expect a QR code in the middle of the table allowing customers to pull up the menu and pay – all without touching anything other than your phone. Of course another option is to go old school and provide paper (throw away) menus. Wait times for restaurants will benefit from mobile communications allowing patrons to move about away from the restaurant versus lobby-style waiting areas. Of course many are using texting services to do this already.
Lodging Properties Must Go Beyond Cleaning
The quick turn-around of hotel rooms may be a thing of the past. Hotels will need to create and communicate their new sanitization services after every single check out. Consumers will want to know hotels have more than cleaned every room, they will expect sterilization. Watch as hotels create branded sterilization programs such as the “4-Point Sterile Clean Up” and will need to provide in-room signage (or on-door) indicating a room has been through the new cleaning process. In the short-term, large hotels may need to adopt a new policy of not renting the same room two nights in a row – giving the visitor confidence proper time has passed by for cleaning. This all requires more costs to the property, thus it will be passed on to the consumer.
New Rules for Flying
Airline travel may require a mask. Remember when every once in a while one person may board a plane wearing a mask? Moving forward, airlines will likely require all passengers to wear masks. A possible quick temperature check may also be a part of the boarding process. Maybe instead of handing out pretzels, we will be given sanitization wipes instead. This all requires more costs to the airlines, thus it will be passed on to the consumer.
Entertainment Must Sell In Moderation
Indoor entertainment such as museums and music venues are going to try to be creative in figuring out what makes consumers feel comfortable. Standing room only and sell-outs might be the sales goal, but it may need to be adjusted for the immediate future. Limiting ticket sales versus maximum capacity may need to be communicated so guests are confident they will have comfortable social distance from other patrons.
Marketing Messages Must Include Safety
Marketing will immediately require a safety element into the messaging. Consumer confidence will decide if your destination, attraction or property will be considered. Communicate space and stay away from showing long lines (and if you expect long lines that needs to be readdressed as well). Drive destinations offering outdoors, hiking, camping, biking, beaches and other outdoor activities are likely to be adopted before flying to destinations of theme parks, indoor entertainment and large hotels.
Be Willing to Adjust Previous Reservation Plans
Timing of the summer vacations may very well be altered of course. Many families planning for June travel are likely going to be eager to recoup their own financial set backs. Thus, taking a week-long vacation may be postponed until late summer. For properties, consider offering discounts for reservations willing to postpone instead of canceling altogether. Because of the possible desire to stay in the work place, or due to general uncertainty, it is possible summer travelers would reconsider a fall vacation, allowing you to extend your season a bit. None of this is ideal, but finding consumer-minded ways to salvage business may be necessary.
Branding Matters More Now Than Ever
Trust and confidence may be perhaps the two greatest factors contributing to future traveler selection of destinations and activities. A strong brand means a strong relationship exists with consumers where trust and confidence are high. On the contrary, weak brands do not have consumer trust and will struggle with attempts to turn marketing into customers.
Of course, as of right now, we really don’t know what’s going to happen. Everyone is making predictions but no one really knows. It’s more than the science of COVID-19 and how it transmits, it’s about the emotional reaction on how we will continue. Meetings will change. Conferences will change. Group travel will change. We will all find out together.
Do you have any other ideas on how the COVID-19 situation will affect the hospitality industry? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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