In the post-COVID world, global hospitality industry is among the hardest hit due to fears of community spread through travel and group environments. Due to concerns about social distancing while traveling, closing down of international and city borders and temporary cancelation of flights, travel industry has been suffering the most immediate repercussions, with this downward trend spilling over to hotel occupancy and revenue. Postponement and cancelation of events like concerts, conferences, conventions and sports leagues is also another important factor that has been causing people to cancel their travel plans. Research suggests depending on whether the virus is contained or not, projections for the year when the industry returns to pre-COVID-19 levels of growth can be as late as 2023. In this context, there will be new trends shaping the hospitality industry which will introduce new opportunities and challenges for all industry players to address as they return to business.
1. Rise of local tourism
With concerns about social distancing, consumers have grown averse to communal modes of transport such as planes and buses, instead opting for their private vehicles or trains with private compartments that offer relatively more safety when planning their holidays. This means that their options will be limited to domestic, even regional touristic destination. In this context, hotels can redirect their marketing efforts towards domestic travelers, which may have significant impact on strategy and budgeting.
2. Opportunities for “Off-the-beaten-track”
During the pandemic, destinations that normally receive heavy tourist traffic will lose this status as more and more people prefer less travelled to regions that are free from crowds. Combined with increased demand for outside activities, this will present an opportunity for hotels in rural tourism/nature tourism destinations. Alternative accommodations like camping sites, RV and boat rentals will also benefit from this trend.
3. Changes in customer expectations
For businesses in any industry, making sure their customers and employees are safe is a priority. Especially for hospitality, ensuring customer safety so that they can be just as comfortable as they are in their own homes when staying at a hotel is important to revitalize demand for their services. In the context of a global pandemic, travelers expect the highest possible regard for safety measures. Survey conducted on 5 large markets concludes that this period will see customers expecting a variety of safety and hygiene measures ranging from more intense room cleaning to contactless check-in/check-out systems. There will likely be initiatives to award health and safety certificates for hotels that have instated best practices involving governments, OTA’s and other travel agencies, which will have a direct effect on consumer decision-making.
To address this early on, many hotels have adopted new security measures like decreasing capacity, closing buffets and increasing the distance between tables in restaurants, making protective masks a requirement for staff and guests and increasing cleaning staff and frequency. For larger hotels with high occupancies, an even better measure to make sure everyone is safely distanced from each other is to implement a tracking and warning system that warns users in real time when they break social distance. With the use of wearable devices, hotel guests and staff can be warned in real-time when they break social distance and are able to correct their position. To see how Boni Global’s COVID-19 solution can help you automate social distancing in your facilities click here.
4. Communication is key
While taking the necessary safety measures is important, communicating how your hotel is able to protect your guests is key to increase demand and manage expectations. With public health at stake, all accomodation providers must be transparent and communicative regarding their activities during the pandemic. Hotels should be well-versed on the ever evolving knowledge we have on the virus, making sure that their guests know what are the best practices. Cleanliness and sanitation of the facilities should be communicated well to instill confidence and drive demand. Supporting this with a health and safety certification can further increase customer confidence. This will bring a new challenge for the marketing function of hospitality.