Hotels are reinventing their business models to thrive in a post-COVID environment. As a result, several trends emerged to meet new guest expectations and demands. For example, hotels began offering extended stays, workation packages, and coworking spaces and investing in modern technology while refining their digital marketing strategies to reach out to more potential guests. Traditional business models are resilient but are no longer enough to ensure successful operations after the pandemic. So, hotels must adapt to the new normal and adopt new strategies. In the following, we will look at the main changes you can expect in hotels in the years to come.
Cleanliness & Safety
Concern for guest and staff safety against potential contagion became paramount for hospitality businesses since the coronavirus outbreak and will remain a priority in the long term. Cleanliness is an absolute requirement and a norm for hotel operations.
Before COVID-19, guests expected clean rooms and facilities. To comply with mandatory governmental guidelines and regulations, hotels must adopt procedures and practices that provide safe and clean environments for guests and staff alike.
Moreover, hotels must maintain transparency about their procedures and practices and keep the guests always informed about their response to the COVID-19 situation. Many hotels have already expressed a clear commitment to cleanliness and safety. See the examples set by Marriott, Rosewood Hotels, Hyatt Hotels, Fattal Hotels, etc.
We can easily summarize the essential takeaways derived from these current trends:
- Hotels must meet safety standards to secure trust among guests and staff.
- Hygiene and cleanliness are no longer "expected" but mandatory. The use of antiviral cleaning agents and disinfectants will become normative.
- Cleanliness and safety will integrate with a hotel's brand identity, ethos, and values.
- Adhering to cleanliness and safety protocols will be essential in winning over guests.
- Hotels must maintain full transparency over their cleanliness and safety practices, always informing guests and staff.
- Cleanliness and safety will become a matter of corporate social responsibility.
- The new cleanliness and safety standards may imply legal liability for hotels that fail to implement the government-required protocols in some cases.
Invest in Technology
Hotels must also invest in innovative technology to meet customer expectations post-COVID. For example, cleaning surfaces will be mandatory; however, guests demand more: touchless technology will become the new industry norm.
As early as 2020, travelers expected hotels to adopt technologies to make them feel safer. For example, a Statista survey found that 81 % of respondents from India versus 65 % in the USA believed that hotels using the latest technologies would make travelers feel safe in their accommodations.
And when it comes to contactless technology, in March 2021, Statista revealed that 62 % of travelers worldwide prefer to check-in and checkout using a hotel app.
Touchless technology goes beyond touchless check-in and checkout. For example, many hotels already offer their guests contactless payment options via online payments, mobile wallets, app payments, or a credit card through the tap-and-go payment option at a POS terminal.
In 2020, Mastercard conducted a global consumer study and found eight in ten consumers turned to contactless payments because of COVID-19, citing safety and cleanliness as key drivers. Most of these consumers also stated they preferred using contactless payments even after COVID.
"Social distancing does not just concern people's interactions with each other; it includes contact with publicly shared devices like point-of-sale terminals and checkout counters," said Blake Rosenthal, Executive Vice President and Head of Mastercard Acceptance Solutions. "Contactless offers consumers a safer, cleaner way to pay, speed at checkout, and more control over physical proximity at this critical time."
Hotels should also invest in touchless technology for antiseptic dispensers, light switches, sink knobs, and all the other essentials in public areas where guests are likely to come in contact with buttons. Technology to limit guests' contact with in-room devices is already available, and many hotels are already investing in it. Angie by Nomadix is such an example: it is a voice-activated hotel room guest assistant which allows guests to manage the thermostat, lights, alarms, TV casting, music, and more via voice.
Maximize Revenues Through Ancillary Services
With fewer tourists arriving from abroad and a decline in domestic bookings, too, hotels wanting to stay in business must find ways to generate revenue by providing ancillary services.
Guests may not wish to book a room overnight, but they still could use it as a home office for a few hours, days, or longer. Giving guests flexible booking options may secure a stream of revenue, although it could also increase the workload on the hotel staff.
Hotels could also rent unused meeting rooms, lobby bars, and restaurants as coworking spaces. Accor is already reinventing its offer to cater to remote workers by gradually integrating modular workspaces (called pop-up offices) throughout its hotels. Accor also has a special Commute & Stay offer with 15% off and a flexible cancellation for its "Book with confidence" rate.
With ROOMS, Fattal Hotels in Israel offers excellent coworking spaces, a 10% discount in 200 hotels in 19 countries, and other benefits for each ROOMS member. For example, in Tel Aviv, remote workers will find elegant ROOMS coworking spaces at the modern NYX Hotel.
Another example of maximizing profits in the context of shared workspaces is Book a Space - a platform which allows renting meeting rooms and workspaces for the purpose of work, conferences, company events, etc. in a flexible and customized manner for the renter. Book a Space connects hoteliers or property owners who own unused spaces with people who are interested in working remotely in various and diverse work complexes. This business model creates an additional income channel for the property that already exists.
Besides desiring coworking spaces or pop-up offices, customers may prefer using hotel facilities previously only available for guests: think gym, spa, pool, bar, business lounge, restaurant, and so on. But, again, hotels may benefit from opening these spaces to non-guests for a fee.
Whatever the path they choose, hoteliers must already know that they must keep on the lookout for latest trends and adapt quickly to upcoming technologies to remain competitive amidst these fast-changing times.