By Larry Mogelonsky
We all want travelers to start traveling again as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the hotel industry won’t be able to get back to normal for quite a while due to a confluence of factors including lingering border restrictions, lack of flight availability, increased costs per room and customer anxiety.
All that taken into account, the COVID pandemic has presented quite a few opportunities for smart hoteliers to get guests back into their properties based upon some of the emergent consumer behaviors from this virus. Here are five ideas to differentiate your hotel in this new normal we are entering.
1. Staycations for short-term wins. While some are apprehensive about travel, others are chomping at the bit to get away from their isolation homes. Until such time as the coronavirus has been ‘eradicated’ and all borders are reopened, though, guests will want to travel safely and in as socially distanced a manner as possible. Moreover, the average customer is going to be fearful of airports, which, in turn, will favor those properties within driving distance and those that are marketing value-added staycation packages. Start building your promotional campaign and an attractive offer now so you are ready to launch it whenever the all clear is given.
2. Encourage socially distanced activities. Whereas before the pandemic you may have opted to lure in new customers with conferences or prestigious neighborhood events, over the next few months travelers will want to stick with their distancing-friendly habits and get away from it all. Hence, hotels can stand apart from the pack by helping to facilitate visits to local parks or hiking trails as well as guided walks to discover the area around the hotel. You might even consider starting a sanitized shuttle service program, for a fee obviously. Importantly, all these activities are on the cheap side, which will also be a contributing factor as money will be tight for most in the coming months.
3. Wellness to destress from the panic. In a society that is now highly unnerved, those individuals who feel they are suffering from ‘post-coronavirus stress disorder’ will be much more receptive to escaping to the bodily and spiritual rejuvenation offered by spa treatments, meditation programs or yoga retreats. Of course, be sure to conduct these amenities in a manner that abides by the new safety guidelines that are emerging. Even when conducted at an urban property, the demand will be there as many guests won’t want to set foot in airports to go to far-off lands nor will they necessarily have the cash to splurge on a multi-day vacation at a luxury resort.
4. Digital and media detox. While life has indeed quieted down during the quarantine, the perpetual use of technology and addictive following of the news cycle has not. We all need a break from looking at our phones and the inflammable, clickbait headlines that the media spews out every day, only sometimes we need a little nudge to do so. Developing wellness programs to help customers in this regard will let you tap into the budding market for quiet, secluded properties where guests can recharge their spirits away from the constant hubbub of their electronic devices.
5. Work from a hotel. In sharp contrast to any ideas about electronic detoxification is the great number of people who will now be able to permanently work from home. But working in the same space that you sleep can make many a bit stir-crazy. As such, more of these ‘digital nomads’ will hope to conduct a bit of personal hybrid travel whereby they escape to a nearby hotel with laptop and videoconferencing software in tow. Adjusting your operations to meet this demand will mean stellar WiFi connectivity and lots of inspirational, quiet spaces for these travelers to relax while also being productive. Pivoting in this direction, however, will require much less operational retrofitting than you may initially imagine, and the bulk of the work will be in marketing your hotel appropriately so that people are aware of this as an option, particularly if you set up specialized packages in this regard. _______________________________________________________
One of the world’s most published writers in hospitality, Larry Mogelonsky is the principal of Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited, a Toronto-based consulting practice. His experience encompasses hotel properties around the world, both branded and independent, and ranging from luxury and boutique to select-service. Larry is also on several boards for companies focused on hotel technology. His work includes five books “Are You an Ostrich or a Llama?” (2012), “Llamas Rule” (2013), “Hotel Llama” (2015), “The Llama is Inn” (2017) and “The Hotel Mogel” (2018). You can reach Larry at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss hotel business challenges or to book speaking engagements.