Hotels in the age of COVID-19- people will always want to get away. Whether it is to a major chain, a quiet guest lodge, or a bed-and-breakfast, here’s how hotels are adjusting to the new normal.
The COVID-19 pandemic shook the hospitality industry particularly hard and turned many hotel businesses upside down. But, like a shaken snow globe, the post-COVID-19 landscape may be as good or even better than before the pandemic, because we are, and will always be social animals.
In the second quarter of 2020, the highest occupancy of hotels was around 20% in countries where the spread of the virus was low, and some domestic travel was still allowed. In the 3rd quarter, the occupancy in large markets had gone up to 45%. While the hospitality industry is slowly recovering, the COVID-19 crisis continues to exert profound impacts on how hospitality businesses operate. To meet the increasing safety standards hotels, as well as airlines and car rentals are adhering to strict sanitation protocols to make the customer experience as safe as possible.
Hotels are under pressure but recovering faster than airlines and other operators, even though they also had to retrench people, re-adopting single roles to multiple roles as well as carry out other important changes.
Today I was fortunate enough to participate in a webinar organised by Global Travel Media which covered “What Might the Future of Hotels and Accommodation Look Like”. The distinguished team of panellists was impressive and the information they shared were indeed eye-opening to the current status of the business and the level of confidence that there is in the hotels for the business to start slowly coming back.
Unfortunately, out of control pandemic numbers in key markets like Europe and the USA, no one has a crystal ball to predict when business is coming back. These professionals have set their own timeframe as to when their business will rebound- all depending on the control of the transmission of the virus, the borders re-opening, and quarantine restriction review. These key developments would give the confidence to the corporate market to start coming back as well as stimulating an increase in the domestic market and ultimately the international tourist market.
Most of the hotel’s operators predict that the recovery will be slow, and we will not see much improvement for at least another 18 months. The hotels were forced to put on hold several projects, no renovation work, with most major renovations having been postponed indefinitely. Hygiene is a big customer concern; therefore, hotels face the task of assuring customers that their hotels are safe, clean, and have a solid sanitation program with touchless technologies such as virtual concierge, etc. Those are the short-term changes that hotels must manage to appeal to consumers.
For the long-term recovery, the utmost requirement is social distancing which will impact the numbers that a hotel can accommodate for events as well as reducing the occupancy in their restaurants and bars.
There will inevitably be a gravitation to trusted brands for a simple reason- that ultimately it’s about establishing the confidence among the customers by emphasising the procedures highlighted above and by maintaining consistency, and large global brands possess an excellent platform to do that.
In hotels, business personalisation and contact are essential for the guest and their experience. However, with the new reality, hotels have adopt a creative approach and reinvent that in such a way that it will not become robotic but remain a personal experience for the customer.