The pandemic changed hospitality forever.
We are seeing certain new trends in the changed hospitality landscape.
The hotels that thrive post-pandemic are the ones that adapt to these new trends.
Here are the 3 major trends:
Traditionally hospitality has been all about the personal touch. Every guest touchpoint was an opportunity to add a personal touch. Any technology that got in the way of providing a personal touch was viewed with scepticism. Not anymore.
The pandemic has spooked a significant number of the guest population. For them, a personal touch is not the white glove service it used to be. They are looking for ways to reduce their exposure risk. For them, technology helping a contactless experience is the new white glove service.
Here are some common guest touchpoints that are affected:
Check In: The check-in experience is undergoing a fundamental change. Hotels are replacing or augmenting their Front Desk with smart kiosks and giving guests the ability to check-in through their mobile devices. Here they are taking a page from the airline industry. Digital signatures are replacing the registration cards, pet policy, covid declarations etc. And digital keys are replacing the physical fob keys.
Guest Communication: Guests prefer doing everything from the comfort of their mobile phone. There is no need to require guests to come down to Front Desk for their requests. Or to make them use a public phone, even one that happens to be in their rooms. It’s common to see hotels provide a messaging solution based on SMS/WhatsApp that does not require guests to download yet another hotel app.
Housekeeping: It is not just the guests who face exposure risk. At the peak of the pandemic, hotels turned to opt-in room cleaning to shield their staff from exposure. And this appears to be catching on across hotels to contain the cost of cleaning rooms. Room cleaning costs have climbed as hotels experience shortage of staff to clean the rooms and the increased cleaning standards that are becoming the norm since the pandemic.
F&B: Indoor dining has fallen out of favor in most hotels. You increasingly see one-time use utensils, ready-to-go, pre-packaged food being offered with minimal staff intervention.
It has been a roller coaster. Staff was let go when demand plummeted last year, understandably. The remaining staff wore multiple hats — GMs getting down and dirty with room cleaning and Revenue staff handling operations duty.
When demand started picking up this year, hotels experienced something they had not anticipated — a labor shortage. People have tried to come up with multiple explanations — generous subsidies, staff finding employment in other industries, staff dissatisfied with hospitality roles etc. Whatever the case may be, the shortage is leading to an upward wage pressure that hoteliers had not anticipated.
The staff shortage combined with the new demands and roles within the industry, it seems certain that lean staffing is here to stay.
While revenue has started climbing, for many hotels the RevPAR is still not up to 2019 levels. At the same time, the labor shortage has put upward pressure on wages. These two trends combined have ensured the budgets are tighter going forward.
As a result of tighter budgets, it is not going to be possible to throw resources (people and money) at problems as in the past. Efficiency matters. Operational efficiency is a trend that is going to stay.
Most other industries, when dealing with rising wages, have used technologies to extract more productivity out of their staff. Hospitality has been a laggard. To thrive, hotels have to get over their inertia. Hotel software can help in two ways:
As a hotel technology company, we have a front-row seat to how software is changing hotel operations. Hoteliers that adapt to these trends are the ones going to thrive in the changed hotel landscape.
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