The new reality that the hospitality industry is facing is unpredictability. While in pre-pandemic times hotels, particularly those in popular tourist destinations, were used to having low occupancy levels outside of tourist season and made up for losses during peak tourist season, the numbers have been reaching an all-time low because of COVID-19, which took a major toll on the entire industry. Especially due to the unpredictability that has emerged during the first COVID-19 lockdown and that will remain a reality for the industry for a long time, hotels must take measures that will help protect them from this unpredictability and ensure their hotel services match the needs and expectations of guests, so they do not lose them altogether. So how can hotels attract guests in the age of COVID?
- Hotels must provide guests with safety during every part of the stay, ensuring that the guests feel comfortable and their minds are at an ease
- Safety is likely to continue playing a significant role in the hospitality industry long after the pandemic is behind us.
- Offering online booking at your hotel through a popular booking website is beneficial for hotel owners and managers and convenient for hotel guests.
- Due to the uncertainty of whether holiday plans might have to get cancelled due to travel or hotel occupancy restrictions or unexpectedly falling ill or having to quarantine, people feel safer booking stays at hotels that offer simple refund and cancellation policies.
- For many guests, the hotel parking lot is the first place they go to when they arrive, especially now when many people prefer domestic travel rather than international travel and drive to the hotel by car, so the safe, touchless experience a hotel offers should start there.
- Parking at the hotel should leave a lasting, positive impression on the guest that will ensure them that they made the right choice in staying there, and by cooperating with companies that provide digital parking solutions and taking parking convenience to a whole new level, hotels can accomplish this.
- The digitalisation of the check-in and the check-out process is a way to limit exposure to the hotel staff as well as increase the convenience for the guest as it speeds up the process, eliminates long queues, as well as helps solve the staffing issues faced in the hospitality industry.
- Mobile keys for the hotel rooms and QR code menus for the hotel restaurant improve safety as well as increase sustainability.
- When talking about safety, we can’t forget about sustainability, as people are more willing to trust brands that implement sustainable practices and strategies in order to have a more positive impact on the planet.
What can hotels do to achieve success?
Regardless of whether COVID cases are up or down and even when travel restrictions are lifted, hotels still struggle and face difficulties with recovering from the losses and getting those much-needed high occupancy rates. That is not caused by people losing interest in travelling, because people still want to travel, especially after multiple lockdowns and rigorous restrictions. The main issue at play here is safety. That is why the key to making a hotel attractive to guests is providing them with safety during every part of the stay, ensuring that the guests feel comfortable and their minds are at an ease rather than worrying about things like coming in contact with a virus. Chances are that even after COVID, safety will continue to play a significant role in the hospitality industry. Therefore, it is important for hotels to take extensive measures to provide this safety because it will not only protect hotels from huge losses of revenue but will also prove to be significantly crucial to future prosperity.
Booking a hotel room
The first step of a stay at a hotel occurs before the guest arrives at the hotel premises, and it is quite important. That is, booking a room for the stay. Arriving at a hotel without having made a prior reservation has become quite uncommon, especially now when due to restrictions, there is often limited occupancy in a hotel. Offering online booking at your hotel through a popular booking website is beneficial for you and convenient for your guests. It will give them full transparency as to prices and availability for months in advance, as well as show photos and reviews that will enable them to make an informed decision. Hotel reviews play an important role because they influence the choice of the hotel a guest chooses. Guests do not make this decision solely based on location and price anymore.
A way to make your hotel stand out from competitors by increasing the comfort of the hotel stay for the guest is by offering simple refund and cancellation policies. Although these might seem like they are bad for business, they are not and might actually increase a hotel’s revenue thanks to higher occupancy rates. People have begun searching for flexibility due to the unpredictability of living in the age of COVID, and this is especially important when it comes to travel plans and holidays. Due to the uncertainty of whether holiday plans might have to get cancelled due to travel or hotel occupancy restrictions or unexpectedly falling ill or having to quarantine, people feel safer booking stays at hotels where in the case of any of these things happening, they won’t lose their money.
When increasing the safety measures at your hotel, it is crucial to remember about the hotel parking lot. For many guests, it is the first place they go to when they arrive, especially now when many people prefer domestic travel rather than international travel and drive to the hotel by car. Therefore, the safe, touchless experience a hotel offers should start there. Parking at the hotel should leave a lasting, positive impression on the guest that will ensure them that they made the right choice in staying there. By cooperating with companies that provide digital parking solutions, hotels can increase the convenience of parking to a whole new level, while also providing their guests with touchless parking solutions. Whether the solution relies on the use of ANPR cameras, beacons or other hardware, the solution eliminates the need for hotel guests to come in contact with hotel staff or external surfaces such as ticket machines in order to enter the parking lot and the hotel guest can enter the parking lot seamlessly.
To find out more about digital parking visit: https://blog.digitalparking.city/2021/07/29/what-is-smart-parking/
The digitalisation of the check-in and the check-out process is on the rise at hotels because similarily to the digitalisation of the parking process, it is a way to limit exposure to the hotel staff as well as increase the convenience for the guest as it speeds up the process, eliminating long queues. Automatisation of processes at hotels will soon become even more widespread, as automatisation increases the comfort and luxury of a hotel, making it more attractive for guests.
A bonus of digital check-ins and outs is that this helps address the staffing issues that the entire hospitality industry has been facing since the start of the pandemic. Many hotels are unable to operate as efficiently as they had prior to the pandemic when they had a full staff available, but because the pandemic has caused the hospitality industry to be so unpredictable, job seekers are looking for more stable work environments, and hotels are struggling to find willing employees. Automatisation of customer-facing processes such as check-in and check-out helps solve this problem.
That being said, this automatisation does not necessarily mean the removal of the front desk, but rather providing guests with a touchless, convenient option in addition to the front desk, with the front desk still being an available option for those guests who still prefer to check-in and out with the front desk staff.
Digitalising access to a guest’s hotel room also plays a huge role in the safety a hotel can offer its guests. The way this works is that instead of a key card received at check-in, guests have access to a digital key on their smartphone that they can use to enter their room. This provides a hotel guest with a safe, touchless solution on the hotel premises, as well as helps eliminate the risk of losing a hotel key.
Oftentimes in the past two years, hotel restaurants have been closed due to pandemic restrictions. Even when they have been opened, they did not operate with their pre-pandemic efficiency due to a lack of staff, which is one of the biggest challenges the hospitality industry is facing because of the pandemic.
Of course, when it comes to safety, guests expect to see hotel staff taking precautions such as wearing masks and gloves for the entirety of their stay, and this includes the restaurant staff. In addition to this and other sanitation measures such as disinfection of tables after every guest, there are other things that a hotel restaurant can offer that will increase comfort and luxury.
Implementing touchless solutions at the restaurant can improve efficiency, convenience and safety, as well as help in solving the staff issue, just like during other parts of the hotel stay. For example, instead of giving guests a traditional, paper menu, restaurants can provide the guests with a QR code which, after scanning with a smartphone, will display the menu conveniently on their phone. That is not only an innovative solution that addresses safety but also is sustainable and helps save the hotel money because it eliminates the need for paper menus and large amounts of cleaning products that are necessary for disinfection.
QR code menus can also be offered at the hotel room, enabling guests to scan the codes and have the menu on them at all times. QR codes in the hotel room can even be extended to offer tourist attractions, restaurants and other recommendations for the area the hotel is located in.
When talking about safety, we can’t forget about sustainability. Concern about the environment has been on the rise worldwide, and people are more willing to trust brands that implement sustainable practices and strategies in order to have a more positive impact on the planet. Especially in the age of COVID, when a lot of safety measures include frequent use of nonreusable masks and gloves made from plastic, people’s worries are growing, and they want to have an outlook on a brighter, safer future, not only without COVID but also without pollution and other harmful consequences.
Sustainability practices are not only sought after in retail or tech companies but also in the hospitality industry. When hotels implement sustainability practices, they become more attractive to guests. By staying in a hotel that is actively taking steps to have a positive impact, guests feel a lot better and see themselves as also ones who are contributing to doing better for the planet. The same goes for employees. Right now, when the hospitality industry is facing serious staff shortages, hotels with sustainable practices will appeal more to those on the job market as well.
So when hotels are looking at ways to bring about safety measures at their facilities, they must also take into account the sustainability aspect. However, sometimes these two go hand in hand. When we take a look at touchless solutions, which have definitely risen in popularity in the age of COVID, they do not only check the safety box, but also the sustainability box. Things such as touchless soap and hand sanitiser dispensers, touchless sinks and touchless paper towel dispensers limit exposure to public surfaces for hotel guests and staff, and additionally, many of them allow for management to have control over the amount that is dispensed through the tool. The same goes for parking solutions, which reduce unnecessary pollution to be released into the air since the seamlessness they eliminate long queues and the need to drive around looking for an available parking space. This enables the reduction of waste, making it better for the planet and additionally, saving the hotel money.