1. Contactless Transactions
It’s a germaphobe’s dream, contactless everything is here to stay. Nobody wants to touch something that is not clean and sanitized, whether it be in a hotel, restaurant, attraction, or meeting place. Mobile ordering, digital check-in, QR codes, self-service kiosks, digital menu boards, and much more. Why? Because they are both safe and effective at reducing labor costs.
2. Tech Investment
AI Technology has enhanced guest communications, customer service robots and automation in the front and back of the house will improve profits both short and long term. As an industry, we need to embrace automation, not because it will reduce labor but because it will drive revenue and automate manual, repetitive tasks. Given our labor shortages and increased cost of labor, we get a bonus.
3. It’s About Digital
It’s very necessary to be focused on your digital profile. Every channel that we go to for rooms costs dollars and we need to know how much! How do we develop a business plan post-pandemic? We need every tool in the toolbox and they are all technology-oriented. Websites, digital marketing, laser-targeted sales, and knowledge of the changing landscapes are required.
4. Talent is Missing
Wondering what is going on with the service? You’re not alone, it’s a global issue. We furloughed and laid off the majority of our workforce, but we can fix it by recruiting those with strong communication, technology, sales, and analytic skills. Yes, we will pay them more but they will perform better and will provide superior customer service that is currently lacking.
5. Live Events Like Never Before
Events are coming back but now offer a hybrid component never seen before! Companies know they must send their key salespeople on the road, but rather than send four, maybe two stay back and pay a reduced admission fee and have access to all the speakers and presentations. The live events will often have strict protocols, on-site COVID-19 testing, and more. Every hotel chain is jumping in with its own version of hybrid meetings technology.
6. A New Type of Industry
The industry has been jolted and turned into a science, first with revenue management and now with all things digital, the Internet of Things (IoT) and digital disruption to name a few. Airbnb and other short-term rentals are nibbling away at our market.
7. Sustainability, Safety, and Wellness
The consumer preference of sustainability and the pandemic’s impact on thoughts about wellness and these all meet up for a package of plastic reduction, reusable spray bottles, recycling, water savings, and more. Sanitizing stations will live on and third-party health and wellness ratings will become commonplace.
8. Keeping it Tech
Of course, guests appreciate great service but knowledge of what guests wanted in the 1900s does not make for a successful hotel. Guests want technology that provides them with the 2020s quality of life. Fast, free internet, texts that keep guests updated, smart TVs with the content they want, contactless transactions, use of the mobile phone for everything, and more. Add in positive reviews and they are happy!
9. Sales Direction Shift
Ok, so the basics are critical and sales calls have not changed dramatically, but prospecting tools have changed, booking technology has changed and the process is no longer manual. Order takers are out, data and technology are in and the hybrid meeting component alone will eliminate those who just don’t get it.
10. Customer Service Rewind
It’s more important than ever to provide personalization and a return to wow service that we have not seen in a long time will return this year and be a differentiator. All the technology in the world won’t bring people back without this. Hire today’s women as they really get this!
With these shifts in consumer travel trends for 2022, we expect an ongoing recovery to our room revenue and occupancy rates – we should hit very close to 2019 numbers for most US properties. The exceptions to this are convention hotels and those that have large amounts of the group and corporate business. Those hotels will see a strong pick up in Q2 of 2022!