It’s the good news that we’ve been waiting for—hotels are re-opening their doors to their beloved guests. Changes are already being implemented in order to ensure that guests feel secure during their stay. Some of these concepts are completely new and address current concerns from travellers. A great example of this is the ‘Feel Safe Promise’ from Fleming’s Hotels and Restaurants. This guarantees stricter hygiene standards, infrared thermometers, and access to COVID-19 tests for hotel guests. Trust will be a big factor in the future of travel.
Moving forward, it will be essential for hotels to continuously evolve. Hoteliers will need to think about how they can ensure guests feel comfortable and set themselves apart from competitors. It might not be easy to create powerful campaigns and make promises to your guests without knowing how the upcoming months will play out, but it’s important to start thinking outside of the box now.
Looking into the future of travel
We looked at the current trends in the industry, and also some potential future travel scenarios. Here are some aspects of the traditional hotel experience that could change following on from the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Bye-bye minibar. The good old days of the minibar being equipped with soda, peanuts and chocolate may be over. Instead, guests might find face masks, gloves, and disinfectant gels and wipes in their rooms. These help guests feel safe in their room and also in public spaces of the hotel, or exploring outside. Other traditional direct booking benefits might also change too. You can see our creative list of new, alternative direct booking benefits here.
- The importance of technology. Innovation in the hospitality tech industry has been massive over the last few years and this will only continue. Just take a look at the 2020 Q2 Innovation Report from Hotel Tech Report with 47 new hospitality innovations (including Hotelchamp’s Demand Tracker). But what other technologies might become mainstream? Could the use of thermo-scanners at the entrance of hotels and F&B outlets become a new norm? Maybe we will find ourselves without physical menus in restaurants, but rather using our own mobile devices?
- A contactless experience. We have already experienced the need for contactless payments during this crisis, but other areas of the hotel experience could follow this trend too. Contactless check-in and check-out is one of the rising stars. One example of this is Mews Navigator, which enables guests to skip personal interaction. No waiting in queues in the lobby, but rather being able to go straight to their room upon arrival. Contactless donations or tips are also possible with Hotelchamp’s Tap to Donate device.
- Limited access only. Especially in the early recovery stages, there will be restrictions on how many people are allowed in most hotel facilities, such as restaurants and spas. But thinking ahead, will spas still exist as we have known them? The spa experience could change if more permanent regulations around cleanliness are rolled out. Maybe the spa experience will be in-room, rather than in a separate spa area? There’s so much to explore here.
- Networking 2.0. Hoteliers are known not only for hosting fantastic events, but also attending them. What will happen to our beloved conventions, hotelier meet-ups and gatherings, plus the exchange of information and industry insights? In the last few months, hoteliers have created strong online communities and connected virtually to exchange knowledge. The future of travel could contain more of these online meet-ups, with valuable input from hoteliers who might not have normally been able to travel to these events.
- Extra cleanliness indicators. Think of the traditional toilet seat bands, but on a bigger scale. Sharing more information on room cleaning might become an added benefit for guests, such as the Cleanliness Certificates from HKeeper. For short stays, room doors might be equipped with tapes to give extra peace of mind that no one entered the room while the guest was out.
- New role creation. Singapore has taken a lead on developing new Hygiene Standards, called the SG Clean quality mark for businesses to uphold their sanitation standards. We have seen shifts into this direction all across the globe now. Stricter cleaning protocols could also make ways for dedicated, supervising and training roles that we haven’t seen before, for example, a Chief Hygiene Officer.
What must the hospitality industry learn for the future?
We are at the beginning of a long journey, with no one really knowing what the future of travel holds for both hoteliers and travellers. A balance needs to be found between tradition and innovation. Now more than ever, it is important to make guest experiences memorable and ensure guests feel safe. Hoteliers will need to comply with new standards, both set by the travellers but also from governments, while never losing the customer-centric approach, something that has always been at the core of what hospitality stands for.
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