The Traveler Mindset 2021

Summer is here… It’s June! The world is moving forward in a new post-pandemic direction. In-person meetings, conferences, and tradeshows are all cornerstones of most businesses including the hospitality industry! Looking at recent data the numbers are up and on the rise for the hospitality and travel industry. Despite the lingering staffing shortages experienced throughout the industry including forcing American Airlines to cancel hundreds of flights over the weekend, people are still eager to get out there and travel.

According to a study based on a survey of more than 2,000 Americans,  more than a year into the pandemic, there is optimism for the travel industry as four in 10 Americans plan to take at least one vacation this summer. Americans of all ages and income levels are ready to get away and are making travel plans. It was expected that leisure travel would come back faster than business travel; however, May group meetings volume increased 28.4% over the previous month. It was the fourth consecutive month that the volume increase reached double digits. The metrics are moving in the right direction and that is great news for the entire hospitality and travel industry!

Travel Pulse shared some key findings from a survey of over 5,800 travelers. It appears that close to 70% of the participants want to travel in 2021. Many of them also carried over some of their vacation days from 2020 into 2021. For example,

  • 61% feel hopeful about travel in 2021, of whom 83% will take two or more domestic trips and 44% plan for two or more international getaways.
  • 7% are excited about travel.
  • Europe remains the most sought-after international destination among the Americans (68% of participants), followed by Asia (30%), the Caribbean (28%), and Mexico (25%).
  • Within the U.S., the West/Pacific Northwest is the hottest region (52%), followed by the Mountains of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado (40%), Southwest (37%), Hawaii (31%), and Northeast (31%).
  • 52% of participants plan to participate in outdoor activities.
  • 68% want to avoid crowds.
  • 26% of respondents carried over 11 or more vacation days from 2020 to 2021; 15% carried over between six and 10 days.
  • 30% of respondents have 21-30 vacation days.
  • 31% of respondents have 31 or more days.
  • While many are making plans for trips, only 15% of respondents purchased tickets for domestic travel, and fewer than 10% have purchased flights for international trips.

We still have a lot of work to do and it will take some time, but it’s definitely great news that we are in the recovery stages and working to emerge bigger and better than ever. Summer is looking good and full of positive and hopeful vibes!

 

Hotel Lulu Opens in California

 Hotel Lulu, opened in California Following Renovation and Rebranding, nestled in the heart of Anaheim, opens its doors opens on May 14th, 2021 and was greeted with positive reviews. With 310 guestrooms it is conveniently located just steps from Disneyland and minutes from Anaheim Convention Center, this welcoming and playful property boasts chill California design details with a modern twist. Hotel Lulu features signature restaurant Lulu’s Kitchen; the new Lulu’s Coffee, serving Intelligentsia Coffee; a beautiful outdoor pool; 24/7 fitness center; 5,400 square feet of meeting and event space; and an onsite Disneyland® Insiders team. The hotel is managed by Azul Hospitality Group, a San Diego-based hospitality management company focused primarily on upscale hotels and resorts, and is owned by J Street Hospitality, also based in San Diego.

The name inspired by the word meaning something remarkable, special, or wonderful “lulu” – just like a visit to sunny Southern California! Furthermore, the name was brought to life when the hotel created a character named “Lulu” illustrated throughout the property, enjoying a fun-loving attitude as she enjoys the highlights of a California lifestyle. Echoed throughout the entire hotel’s design, with the intention to evoke the same feeling from guests!

“We are excited to announce the opening of Hotel Lulu and look forward to welcoming travelers, ensuring our guests have a carefree California experience,” said John Chan, Hotel Manager of Hotel Lulu. “This new hotel exudes the fun-loving energy of Anaheim; with everything, travelers may need to kick back and relax after a day of adventures. From pool deck wine receptions for adults to fireside bedtime stories for kids, we have something for everyone, and our goal is to make every guest’s desires our top priority.”

The Design

Hotel Lulu’s aesthetic was inspired by mid-century modern architecture. The lobby features clean lines with playful pops of color and boasts a 1960’s style record player. The pool area evokes a Palm Springs energy, while guestrooms offer contemporary furniture and beautifully appointed bedding and bathroom amenities.

Each guestroom at Hotel Lulu was designed to be a guest’s personal haven, a serene retreat to help them wake up relaxed and recharged. Room categories include two queen bed standard, accessible two queen bed standard, king bed standard, and accessible king bed standard.

Guests can soak up the California sunshine at the outdoor pool featuring lounge-worthy spaces, cozy fire pits, and al fresco dining tables.

Food & Drinks

Chill California cuisine is at the heart of Hotel Lulu’s offerings.

  • Lulu’s Kitchen: The signature restaurant features snackable, shareable plates, served in a welcoming setting. Those who would rather enjoy a meal from the comfort of their guestroom can opt for the restaurant’s pick-up dining service.
  • Lulu’s Coffee: The newest addition to the hotel, Lulu’s Coffee is the spot to grab a quick bite, like on-the-go sandwiches and salads, artisanal baked goods, and quiches, as well as local favorite Intelligentsia Coffee and teas. For kids, Lulu’s Coffee will offer delicious hot chocolate, warm milk, smoothies, and juice.

Events & Conferences

Hotel Lulu features 5,4000 square feet of indoor meeting space with three meeting facilities on the property, each is thoughtfully designed to accommodate groups large and small from 10 to 250 guests.

For more info or to book a stay at Hotel Lulu, visit: https://hotellulu.com/

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Labor Shortage 2021

Today’s labor shortage conditions could easily develop into one of the worst labor shortages in the last 50 years, particularly for businesses that employ blue-collar and service workers. This of course creates a huge strain and overall impact on the US economy.

It has been a tough year for the hospitality and restaurant industry, and even after opening at full capacity, the struggle continues. Some restaurants are even reducing business hours because they are understaffed. Unfortunately, the hospitality industry is not the only one suffering; electricians, plumbers, air conditioning companies, etc. are all in the same boat. Some are even offering sign-on bonuses with wages ranging over $30 an hour and are still not getting any applicants.

Areas all over the nation are experiencing a 1% unemployment rate. Fast food companies are having trouble recruiting and retaining minimum-wage employees. Some grocery stores have even been offering signing bonuses to entice cashiers. Salons cannot find enough hairdressers. Hotels cannot find cleaning or maintenance staff.

Unemployment in the US has been hovering at 4.3% for the last few months; the lowest in over 20 years. Upper-level management and tech positions currently have a 1.4% unemployment rate; an all-time low. There may be a short-term alleviation of the labor shortage in a few years because of the predicted future fluctuations.

Within 10 years our country may be experiencing a genuine labor crisis. According to estimates from the U.S. Labor Dept., the unemployment rate in seven years could be at 2%, which means that many businesses are going to have to acquire qualified workers from other sources. In turn, the job market 10 years from now will get even tighter. This will then diminish the labor pool as a result of population trends that are constricting the flow of new workers entering the workforce.

When the employment crunch really hits, many businesses will be unable to grow even in otherwise favorable economic conditions. The $1.9 trillion stimulus plan recently passed included weekly $300 unemployment benefits through September 6 to help Americans struggling financially. While many lawmakers and Americans lauded this provision as a form of much-needed pandemic relief, some experts have argued that these benefits might have actually discouraged unemployed workers from returning to work. While unemployment has been crucial in helping people during the pandemic, it’s important to find a balance that doesn’t disincentivize people from returning to work.

Tech Trends For The Hotel Industry Post Covid-19

Post pandemic the hospitality industry has been slowly recovering. The assistance of technology has helped ease the strain on the industry. Embracing touch-less, is thankfully something that was emerging before the pandemic, however, it has gone from nice-to-do to essential-to-do.

Now with hotels investing in ways to serve the guest mindset, the initial months following the outbreak have provided an opportunity to upgrade systems without disruption. Perhaps installing kiosks for self ordering, QR codes for menus, or near field communication technology for in-room ordering. It’s all about creating a smooth and touches experience for guests.

This pivot by hoteliers, has launched them into the latest technology in this digital era faster than ever. New technologies in housekeeping can create guest trust, which is extremely vital with the new “normal”. Using the latest protocols and cleaners to sanitize rooms, public areas, and high-touch areas is crucial, especially from the guest perspective. In some ways a guest’s smartphone will be the first and possibly only point of contact for most interactions.

Some hotels have already had in place some tech that has shown to be more valuable than when first implemented. Loews Miami Beach Hotel already had some contact-less applications in place, one of which was a live texting service that connected their guests with staff on property for various needs. The texting service also is used to inform guests about upcoming events, promotions and other latest news on the property.

The Hyatt has taken their technology efforts to their fitness studios, by teaming up with local fitness vendors and creating a library of fitness videos exclusively available to their guests. This is a clear example of pivoting and providing what your target demographic is looking for.

Adoption of mobile locks in the hotel marketplace continues to rise unilaterally across all segments, from major brands to the smaller independents. In many cases, the guest can skip the check-in line at the hotel’s front desk and go directly to their room. This tech combines two major needs of guests today, less interaction and faster, convenient experience.

Despite the huge need for it, public networks remain a concern to even the least tech savvy. Simple steps to eliminate exposure of user sign-in credentials include wiping all devices twice to remove any credentials after the guest checks out will protect guests.

Technology will allow safe integration and collaboration across the hospitality space, Smart hosts will balance high tech and high touch. Covid-19 has expedited the digital transformation. This will continue happening and will not go back to normal in a couple of years. People might not want to interact, but we are in the hospitality business. As guests return to hotels and restaurants, the industry will be ready to greet them. Tech will ensure safety without encroaching on someone’s privacy.

The new normal for restaurants and hotels in the US

COVID-19 has changed everything, including how restaurants operate and the way customers use them. The restaurant industry has experienced catastrophic losses and profound changes resulting from the pandemic. Nevertheless, its businesses continue to evolve in order to thrive again.  As restaurants start to reopen here in Florida and in other states, and prepare for dine-in service, they’re noting that while consumers are exhibiting a pent-up desire to return to restaurants, they’re also sending a message that they expect a different kind of experience — one that demonstrates commitment to safety, embraces technology, and practices social distancing and hospitality. When the pandemic hit, states issued shelter-in-place mandates and restaurants were forced to close their dining rooms, operating takeout and delivery services only.

The National Restaurant Association research found that the industry lost more than $80 billion during the first two months of the pandemic

  • 92% of restaurant traffic moved to off-premises foodservice
  • Drive-thru made up the largest service category
  • Order-ahead for pickup followed at 23%
  • Delivery made up 21% of sales
  • To-go registered at 18%.
  • Online ordering and delivery increased 7%.

Brands that were able to come up with innovative ways to create and keep revenue flowing will be the ones who will succeed in spite of the many challenges they face.

As the states have lifted their stay-at-home orders, more Americans say they long to return to a semblance of normal life, and dining in a restaurant is part of that picture. To keep customers and employees safe, restaurants have adopted cleaning guidelines from assorted sources including the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Reopening Guidelines, the Food & Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, creating ways to incorporate them into everyday operations.  American Cleaning Services was one of the first commercial cleaning company in the country to adopt all those guidelines, train its staff and provide new products and services to hotels, restaurants, casinos and venues. 

However, published reports indicate that 80% of consumers are still anxious about the safety of dining out. For example, consumers say they would rather place their orders through a mobile device or at a kiosk instead of speaking to a cashier or server. In addition, when it comes to payment, they generally agree that contactless payment is safer for personal health than using cash or swiping their cards. An American Express survey, conducted in May, found that 58% of diners who used touchless payment before COVID-19 are more likely to use it now.

To meet these consumer needs, operators have ramped up the technology available at their restaurants but have also increased their communication around cleaned facilities and protocols.

 

The future

Despite the anxiety, most surveys say that consumers would continue to dine out, still wanting to celebrate the special occasions in their lives. They will still want their basic expectations met — delicious selections, hot food served hot and cold food cold. The biggest and most critical expectation, however, is personal safety. Diners will choose their dining destinations more thoughtfully, with safety determining where they go, and operators know it. Consumers expect their safety needs to be visible, and that restaurants should ask patrons who don’t practice social distancing to leave.

What do restaurateurs think? They believe that current COVID-19 safety precautions are the new normal and could continue long after the disease is gone.

For more information about our services, click here or call 855-906-4200

ACS Latest US trends for Hotels – Recovery

COVID-19 has posed a significant challenge in terms of planning for recovery, as many questions remain unanswered. Both the timing and the shape of recovery for the travel industry has remained elusive to hoteliers and agents alike. As travel and hotel stays begin to steadily, but slowly, increase across the globe, what data patterns do hoteliers and agents need to keep at top of mind as we wait for a return to normalcy?

Below, we’ve broken down two key global and U.S. trends that are shaping our outlook for hotel recovery in the aftermath of COVID-19.

Average daily rate (ADR) trends

Year-over-year commissionable stay data indicates that hotel ADR is increasing at a lower rate than actualized stays, according to new figures from the latest Cortera data. Analyzing Cortera data, global commissionable confirmed stays declined an average of 84.3% year-over-year for the 4-week period leading up to June 20. This steep decline is to be expected. Many hotels remain shuttered, as more than 57% of hotels self-reported in April that they were closed for business as recently as April, and many more are battling low occupancy. But Cortera has seen consistent week-over-week growth in confirmed hotel stays since reopening efforts began for many US states at the beginning of May, and the forward momentum has continued despite some states pausing or rolling back reopening plans in light of increased COVID-19 cases.

This growth in hotel stays may be misleading from a revenue standpoint, however. Analyzing the same trends through the lens of agency commission revenue over the same 4-week period leading up to June 20, we see an annual decrease of 93.1%, indicating that ADR is slower to progress to the previous year’s performance when compared to actualized hotel stays. What might be causing this slower restoration of ADR to pre-coronavirus numbers? For one, hotels may be lowering room rates to entice travel-shy visitors.Another explanation is economy hotels drawing more visitors than luxury hotels, as the data shows luxury hotels are slower to recover than economy in recent confirmed commissionable stays. It’s no surprise that luxury hotels see higher daily rates than economy lodging, so the faster return of economy bookings and stays, and the slower upward momentum of luxury, will continue to negatively affect ADR.

Economy vs. luxury trends

Non-luxury hotels have seen the biggest growth since the beginning of the pandemic. Early April saw the largest weekly decline in non-luxury and economy stays with a 94% lose in volume. As we entered recovery, growth began with week-over-week percentage increases varying with an average of about 27% growth per week. Towards the end of June, non-luxury and economy stays had increased more than 650% from April’s dire lows. The same growth has not been realized in that timeframe for luxury hotels. While these hotels have also seen week-over-week growth, luxury has lagged behind the promising increases shown by other non-luxury accommodations. Confirmed stays dropped annually by nearly 98% at the beginning of April with the surge of COVID-19, with week over week gains of an average of 20% into the end of June.Overall, luxury hotels’ confirmed stays have increased nearly 412% from April towards the end of June, but still lag far behind the 650% growth of their non-luxury counterparts.

Economy lodging has seen a more rapid growth during the COVID-19 crisis due to a few different factors, the largest of which is the continued demand for business travel. While videoconferencing platforms have sufficed in the short term as a means of communication for businesses, there is a growing demand for the return to normalcy. Business travel nearly halted in the beginnings of the global crisis, but as nations begin to recover and US hotspots start to regulate with policies on mask usage and social distancing, essential business travel has seen weekly increases that have yet to be realized in the leisure market where luxury hotels hold their revenue. Since business travelers traditionally book non-luxury accommodations, the stronger resurgence of economy lodging makes more sense. Economy lodging is known for a lower ADR than luxury hotels, so we can expect to see trends for both ADR and for luxury and non-luxury confirmed stays to climb at a similar pace throughout recovery.

What can hotels do to prepare for recovery?

While data companies will continue to monitor and report on trends associated with hotel and travel agency recovery here are additional steps that can be addressed by hotels and agencies to maintain a semblance of normalcy during these times.

Beef up your marketing to maximize your bookings online with new deals

Make sure your hotel meets the CDC requirements and use reputable cleaning companies such as American Cleaning Services to properly clean up your facility, with the latest products and technology.

Stay informed of any changes in guidance so you are prepared to adapt

 

For more information about our services, click here or call 855-906-4200

 

New chemical free cleaning protocols – How hotels plan to clean up their act for post-COVID-19 travel

The world’s largest hotel groups are revamping their housekeeping and cleaning measures in the aim of restoring consumer confidence and bringing guests back to traditional hotel rooms. After Marriott International, which released details of its sanitation and hygiene procedures earlier this month, Hyatt and Hilton have been quick to follow in announcing new cleaning protocols for their properties around the world. Amenities like pens, paper and guest directories will also be removed as a decluttering measure, and the frequency of cleaning will increase for public areas and fitness centers.

Most hotels also said they will be expanding its contactless Digital Key service, which allows guests to check-in, choose their own room and gain access using their mobile devices.

As of September 2020, most large hotels groups will have a Hygiene Manager, responsible for the property’s adherence to new cleaning standards. They will be responsible for implementing social distancing measures in public spaces, staff training, enhanced cleaning measures, food safety, hygiene protocols and air quality control.

Hotel such as Marriott International announced plans to introduce new high-tech sanitation strategies that include the use of electrostatic sprayers and hospital-grade disinfectant. The company is also testing the use of ultraviolet technology to sanitize keys and devices shared by hotel staff.

The most striking update will be the introduction of electrostatic sprayers—the same machines used for fogging airplanes—to sanitize surfaces both inside hotel rooms and in public areas like the lobby and gym. The disinfecting machines (which look like a cross between a Nerf gun and a handheld steamer) rapidly spray a EPA-approved solution that clings to surfaces, offering the ability to sanitize large areas quickly, but is safe to breathe. An increasing amount of hotels are also looking into using ultraviolet light technology “for sanitizing keys for guests and devices shared by associates,”

More immediately, guests will likely notice major changes in the lobby. To promote social distancing, hotels will be temporarily removing or rearranging lobby furniture and offering more hand sanitizer stations throughout. You may also start seeing clear partitions separating the concierge and check-in teams from guests at the front desk—though, like the UV lights, Marriott is still deciding if it’ll go forward with this tactic. At the many Marriott hotels where it’s available, mobile check-in and use of the hotels’ apps for room service and other requests will be encouraged to limit face-to-face interaction. As for the rooms themselves, surfaces are being more closely disinfected with hospital-grade supplies, and you’ll find disinfecting wipes inside your room to use as you see fit.

new spray protocolsAt American Cleaning Services, we are ready with this new technology and have recently introduced 3 new cleaning protocols:

  • PLATINUM GROUP UVC GERMICIDAL LIGHT SYSTEM
  • ELECTROSTATIC SPRAYERS
  • STABILIZED AQUEOUS OZONE  – SAO™

Those systems have the ability to eradicate viruses, bacteria, mold, fungi and microorganisms and are a simpler, safer, more sustainable way to clean, deodorize and sanitize hotels, restaurants, casinos, gyms and schools.

  • Eliminates germs, odors, stains, mold, and mildew.
  • Quickly kills viruses and bacteria including E.coli, Salmonella, MRSA and more.
  • Safe and effective with no toxins, carcinogens, or chemical residue.
  • No odor, residues and other chemical side-effects

To learn more about our new cleaning protocols, click here or call us at 855-906-4200 for your free consultation

 

Five Reasons The Hotel Industry Will Overcome The Pandemic

As one of the world’s oldest industries, hospitality has experienced more than its fair share of global disasters. It weathered both the Great Depression and Recession, survived World War II and even overcame the sharp travel decline after 9/11.

For an industry that’s usually so full of passion, inspiration and light, one glance at my LinkedIn feed reveals a grim reality that few of us ever could have imagined. As of early April 2020, nearly 80% of hotel rooms in the U.S. are empty, most hoteliers are estimating revenue losses of more than 50% for the first half of 2020 and unprecedented layoffs are leaving our colleagues and friends without jobs at alarming rates (70% of direct hotel employees have already been laid off or furloughed). The impact on small businesses is equally dire — as an agency that specifically serves the hospitality industry, we are working harder than ever to stay afloat. Simply put, it’s the most devastating crisis that has ever affected the travel and hospitality space.

That said, never have we have been so confident that hoteliers and travel professionals will rise to the occasion. By working together, supporting each other, and making proactive and informed decisions, we are certain that we will not only survive this crisis, but come out even stronger on the other side.

At a time when we could all use some good news, here are five reasons this too shall pass.

1. Upon Recovery, Travel Demand Will Likely Be Higher Than Ever

While nothing is ever guaranteed, it’s hard to imagine a post-pandemic world where people are not desperate to travel again. They’ve been quarantined in their homes for months and have likely had to cancel at least one, if not several, of their planned trips during that time. Not to mention many people are low on morale and looking for ways to find inspiration and joy.

As experts have been quick to point out, the travel industry is poised for an explosive rebound once society returns to normal. How quickly this rebound happens will depend on several factors, including economic recovery and, most importantly, the reversal of unemployment trends. But one thing is certain: Good times will be back, and hotels will likely be some of the biggest beneficiaries.

2. More Hotels Will Likely Embrace Digital

At a time when in-person experiences are impossible, hoteliers have no choice but to turn online in order to keep their brands alive and consumers engaged. We’re not saying hoteliers haven’t already invested significantly into the digital space, but this might be just the impetus an industry that is notoriously resistant to change needed to embrace the digital space once and for all.

We’re already seeing a significant change in mindsets when it comes to digital marketing. To make up for lost time during hotel closures, many hotels are doubling down on their digital efforts to be proactive, whether it’s building new websites, improving their booking engine experience or ramping up content marketing efforts to stay top of mind and connect with future guests. The way things are heading, we believe hotels will be looking at every possible opportunity to differentiate themselves from the competition once we recover — and in the hotel space, that opportunity lies online.

3. Many Hoteliers Have Learned From Past Mistakes

For most hoteliers, especially those in leadership positions, COVID-19 isn’t their first rodeo with a global crisis — they’ve learned the hard way.

What we haven’t seen much of this time around, for instance, is the type of knee-jerk rate-slashing that happened as a result of the 2007-2009 financial crisis. Instead of trying to artificially create demand by plunging rates, hoteliers are instead sacrificing occupancy and holding onto the one thing they can control: pricing. Based on experience, they know that hotels that maintain rates have a much easier (and faster) time recovering from recessions — whereas rate slashers face an upward battle to rebuild profitability.

4. Local Travel May Keep Us Afloat

Even if the lasting psychological effects of COVID-19 scare people away from long-distance travel for a while, the demand for hotel rooms isn’t likely to just disappear into thin air over the next few years. If people are hesitant to travel far, their plans may simply take on a different form. And if we adjust our marketing strategies to target driving and short-distance travelers, most hotels will find consumers (including transient, corporate and group) to keep their hotels profitable while the world regains the courage to travel internationally and long-distance.

5. China Is Already Showing Signs Of Recovery

To finish on a positive note, all we need to do is look to parts of China and its slow-but-steady upturn in travel demand. According to data from STR, mainland China’s hotels reached a 31.8% daily occupancy rate on March 28, an increase from a low of 7.4% in early February. On a smaller scale, Chinese firm Huazhu Group — which operates more than 2,000 hotels in the country — reports that occupancy has reached 62% at its operational properties, up from a single-digit occupancy rate just a couple of weeks ago.

So while the U.S. may still be several months behind China, this is certainly good news and something we can look to for inspiration.

 

*** In collaboration with Forbes Magazine and Adam Deflorian – CC

COVID-19 : Hotel Association releases new guidelines

Across America Hotels the Hospitality Industry are establishing new proactive protocols with revised polices for hygiene and sanitation across their properties in an effort to protect guests and staff. These new protocols are crucial to keep individuals safe as well as build the trust of prospective guests and employees who may be in fear. The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) released its new “Safe Stay” guidelines, aiming to elevate the standards of the hotel business’ best cleaning practices and operational protocols.

 

“This initiative represents a new level of focus and transparency for an industry already built on cleanliness. Hotels have always had rigorous standards for cleaning and safety,” Chip Rogers, AHLA president and CEO, said of the news. “With Safe Stay, we are enhancing these standards to boost consumer confidence and doing so in accordance with guidance issued by public health authorities, including the CDC.”

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