While 2020 has been extraordinarily tough on travel, the industry is no stranger to periods of slow recovery. In fact, the effects of 9/11 on the profitability of airlines had only subsided for two years before the recession of 2008 hit, resetting the recovery clock.
Hotels have traditionally bounced back from recessions quicker than airlines, with nominal revenue recovery being attained within a few years. However, none of our past recession data accounts for a pandemic. With all the uncertainty around when we can expect a return to semi-normalcy, it is easy to expect that 2021 is going to look an awful lot like 2020. But hotels are moving into the new year smarter and better prepared than they were this time last year, and many hotels are already preparing to innovate with their services and reallocate their budgets to prepare for a streamlined recovery.
So what will hotels be focusing on in the new year? We’ve rounded up the top 3 hotel trends that are set to dominate 2021. Keep reading to see how your hotel can benefit from the latest innovation.
Hotel Trend 1: Doing More with Less
COVID-19 has forced many hotels to cut staffing costs and train their employees to pivot between roles at their locations, often performing front- and back-of-house tasks simultaneously. Luckily, with the ubiquity of smart phones, automation tools have been top-of-mind for hotels even before COVID-19 nearly made them a requirement.
In 2021, hotel management will be looking for ways to automate their previously manual tasks associated with guest check-in and check-out. Contactless check-in options are attractive for hotels because they address two main priorities:
- Easing the burden currently experienced by working hotel staff
- Providing further safety measures for all parties involved in the check-in process
But automation doesn’t need to stop at check-in. There is an opportunity to automate almost every aspect of the hotel experience from booking spa services to ordering room service. Hotels will be expecting more from their Property Management Systems (PMS) than they have previously. In order to take advantage of this hotel trend, PMS leaders will be looking to accommodate automation on their platforms and will be actively innovating their services to support hotel recovery.
Hotel Trend 2: Health and Safety Overhauls
As mentioned above, automation can help bypass face-to-face contact for guests and hotel staff, but innovative hotels will be going a few steps further to allay health concerns that come from rotating guests in and out of rooms.
Flexible cancellation policies
Hotels know now more than ever that flexible cancellation policies are the new normal. As much as it hurts to lose out on potential revenue, gaining the trust and business of return guests will be an important step in recovery. Hotels should be prepared to monitor and update their cancellation policies in accordance with the latest CDC recommendations.
Reallocate budget to Room Cleanliness
While cost-cutting measures are important, it’s important to find funds in hotel budgets to dedicate to cleaning services. Some Asian countries have already enacted new cleanliness standards for hotels to maintain in order to receive a mark of excellence and earn consumer trust.
Upgrading a hotel’s own cleanliness standards, even if not required, gives hotels relevant and timely content to add to websites or booking platforms, and as the AHLA reports, 81% of travelers are more comfortable staying at a hotel with enhanced protocols and standards implemented regarding cleanliness.
Create a Program for Promotion
Hotels are making the best of a difficult situation by founding innovative cleanliness programs, sometimes in partnership with leading health brands, to promote a safe stay environment. This hotel trend has been one of the most dynamic responses to the pandemic to date. Here are a few standouts in the market:
- Best Western recently announced their We Care Clean℠ program in partnership with P&G Professionals, the away-from-home division of Procter & Gamble.
- Hard Rock Hotel & Casino has created the MEET SAFE + SOUND program that extends their sanitation efforts into the meetings and events space. They have enacted a series of property protocols to ensure the safety and health of their event guest.
- IHG has partnered with the owner of the Intercontinental Houston—Medical Center to install IVCP Air Technology to combat COVID-19 as part of their Way of Clean program.
Hotel Trend 3: Payment Innovations
Cash flow is top of mind for hotels as RevPAR has taken a steep drop in 2020. Hotel management will be seeking out B2B payment solutions that not only satisfy their own cash flow and automation goals, but they will be looking for solutions that support the goals of their B2B payees.
Mode of payment will be critical for outgoing commission payments as cash flow remains top of mind for hotel back offices. Payment systems that allow for credit card payment may be prioritized in the short term to keep cash on hand for more urgent priorities.
In the same vein, many hotels understand that the entirety of the travel industry is suffering, particularly their agency partners who bring a significant portion of business to their hotels. Ensuring a faster payment process will make a hotel remain top of mind for future bookings and allowing commission payments to be received virtually gives agencies faster access to their payments and keeps payment contactless. Virtual credit cards are a great and cost-effective way for hotels to show support to agencies during recovery.
What Hotel Trends are You Monitoring?
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