It’s late-April 2022 and spring is in full swing, but take this time to think about the impending summer peak travel season. Omicron subvariant wave or not, restrictions have been loosened and there are even people who are completely tired of COVID-19 to confidently say that the pandemic is over. The pent-up demand will hit hard and fast, and your onsite experience better be up to the task lest guests not consider you for a return visit.
And first impressions are still everything. The onsite experience starts at the entranceway then continues into the lobby area. What are the sights and sounds? Is there any lobby art? Are there flower arrangements to both stimulate the eyes and the noses? Are you making guests wait to check-in or do you have kiosks or a mobile-based check-in platforms to ease the burden?
Part of the grand tradition of all the best hotels around the world is that people admired their lobbies. They wanted to linger, to socialize, to identify with these properties. As the pandemic wanes, successful hotels will in part be those that return this sense of community. To that end, a vibrant lobby bar is a great way to endear guests to your hotel.
A lobby bar can take many forms and décors depending on your brand and your budget. You need some food, of course, which may be tricky, although you can get away with lighter, cold snacks or servicing from an adjacent restaurant. You need great drinks—the lubrication of most every social affair—and an uncomplicated or bloated menu to not slow down service or overwhelm the limited bar staff.
Then consider music, which will likely reverberate through to the front desk area, helping entice guests and set the mood. Live music may well be one of the welcomed sights after two years of lockup. And the design of table areas is equally as important. Although physically distanced has been ingrained into the mindsets of interior designers, call us controversial for stating that seating arrangements stretched too far apart make a space feel desolate—more doctor’s office than hangout spot—not to mention unprofitable. Stick within your area’s guidelines but look for ways to bring people together so that we can all get back to some semblance of normal which, for the human species at least, involves socializing.
Many of us are perhaps too laser-focused on the current staffing woes and filling rooms to concern ourselves with the lobby or rooftop bar. However, we see this not only as a great way to maximize revenue per guest, but to create memorable moments that will compel guests to recommend your property and give it a stellar review. Think twice about this ‘halo effect’ of your F&B outlets on rooms revenue during this time.