5 Things Hoteliers Can Do Right Now to Prepare for a Return to Travel
New standards at hotels include screening guests upon arrival and installing physical barriers at necessary contact points between guests and staff (Photo credit: iStock/Blue Planet Studio).
After being stuck at home for nearly a year, people still have many concerns around safety when traveling. Whether it’s by plane, train or automobile — we all are asking: Are vaccinations the answer to encourage travel in 2021?
According to a recent survey, 50% of travelers plan to get vaccinated immediately, leading to 51% of Americans saying the vaccine will make them more optimistic about safe travel and 57% of business travelers intending to take a trip in the next six months. In anticipation of these likely still-wary guests, below are five things that hotels can implement right now to ensure guests have a positive return to travel.
Convey COVID-19 Cleaning Protocols
How can hotels show guests that cleanliness standards are a high priority? Many hotels have upgraded cleaning products or are using new technology to improve sanitation including ultraviolet tools or cleaning robots. New standards also include screening guests upon arrival and installing physical barriers at necessary contact points between guests and staff.
Any step toward guest safety is one that should be well promoted to your guests. A confirmation email after booking, a placard in the lobby, a note left on the door handle, or even visual cues of staff cleaning common areas during daytime hours — these little assurances can go a long way to give guests peace of mind. Consider becoming a part of an industry initiative, such as AHLA’s Safe Stay, as another means of setting health and hygiene standards for your guests.
Invest in Contactless Tech
The pandemic accelerated the rate of hospitality tech adoption, particularly contactless technology. A recent survey from Metova reports that 86% of guests prefer a hotel with a fully contactless mobile solution, and 70% of hotels have adopted or plan to adopt contactless technology for check-in, food ordering, concierge services and more. These upgrades allow hotels to continue offering a high level of service while maintaining needed distance between guests and staff.
From mobile check-in apps to robots that deliver towels or water bottles to in-room touchless voice technology, there’s something for every hotel’s aesthetic and budget. When implementing new tech, don’t forget to make guests aware by promoting it on hotel websites, in confirmation emails, in the room and in common areas.
With a fifth of Americans considering a staycation trip in their own city, consider promoting an offer to local guests. Even something as simple as a free appetizer at the hotel restaurant, upgraded internet to work from the property, or a drink at the bar might be just the encouragement a future guest needs to book the trip. And with people ordering takeout more often from home, this could be a great way to get non-guests to make purchases on-site while getting more potential guests to visit.
Utilize Outdoor Spaces
If location permits, think about repurposing outdoor spaces for safer eating and gathering experiences for hotel guests or even local diners. An emerging trend called “cocooning” offers guests private spaces using domes, greenery, or decorative screens. Simply rearranging outdoor furniture into various pods is a budget-friendly option for safe distancing between small groups.
Get Creative with Available Resources
There’s still something special about staying in a home away from home. Hotel amenities that were popular pre-COVID still have the potential to enhance a stay. Let guests schedule an hour at the pool or spa. Determine how many parties can safely use the gym or loan free weights or yoga mats to guests for in-room use. Break up conference halls into private working spaces. Have a list of the best takeout in town ready for guests to grab or upload it to the hotel app so they can easily enjoy some COVID-friendly local dining.
Don’t forget about where guests spend the bulk of their time: in their room. Welcome guests to their room with a handwritten note and a COVID safety kit with a mask and hand sanitizer. Consider upgrading in-room entertainment options (e.g., adding TV casting or in-room virtual assistants) or repositioning furniture to allow more room for enjoying breakfast or even getting in a quick workout.
As travel restrictions are lifted and travelers gain confidence, making some upgrades to technology, getting creative with current offerings, and adjusting processes can make a big impact now and when planning for the future. While we are all ready to be back to “normal,” these changes can make guests feel at home and safe when they visit in the meantime.
David Millili, CEO of Angie Hospitality, leverages his more than 25 years of experience scaling technology businesses globally to spearhead commercial strategy and development.