Nearly every industry is experiencing an onslaught of new, unpredicted trends as a result of the equally unexpected pandemic we’re currently living through — and hospitality is no exception.
Along with new COVID-19 related slang terms like Coronacations and Coronasafe, hotels, restaurants, and event spaces have been making major shifts in their marketing focus, messaging, and offerings to meet consumers where they’re at both mentally and physically.
In this first installment of our two part series, Top COVID-19 Induced Hospitality Trends, we’re taking a look at what hoteliers are gravitating towards to stay active, visible, and above all, open.
Serve Up Staycation Specials
Although the idea of a staycation is nothing new (according to the forever handy Wikipedia the term was first coined a 2003 article for The Sun News), its definition has been expanded upon since. Initially a staycation was defined as “a vacation where an individual stays at home and participates in leisure activities within driving distance of their house and does not require overnight accommodation.” Now, a staycation has changed to include further travel or “a vacation spent in your home country, rather than abroad.” Either way, thanks to flight apprehension brought on by COVID-19, the hospitality industry has seen a surge in local and in-state travel and hotel stays.
In fact, according to PR Newswire, panelists from the Traveler Trends and Drivers of Behavior post-COVID-19 webinar agreed that, “for the near future travelers are going to be cautious and stay closer to home, preferably in less dense, more rural, outdoor orientated destinations.”
So how are hotels responding? Many are tapping into that stir-crazy energy and encouraging people to venture out into their own city or state and treat themselves to a long weekend at a hotel.
Refocus your marketing to attract staycationers
- Build up the indulgent amenities your hotel offers
Spa-style bathrooms, expensive sheets, outdoor patios, rooftop pools — play up anything that triggers memories of vacations past.
- Focus on the need for a change of scenery
Most of us have been cooped up in our homes for months and just the idea of looking at a different piece of furniture sounds great.
- Be transparent with your health and safety practices
From how you’ve changed your cleaning policies to what you’re doing to aid in social distancing, guests will be more inclined to book a stay if they feel comfortable and safe.
Be Ready for Road Trippers
What naturally comes with a Staycation? Road trips! This year with the rise in summer temps has come an increase of Americans hitting the highways to explore the great outdoors. According to ScreenPilot’s summary of Skift Research’s third monthly travel tracker survey, “41% of Americans said they’ll travel within 100 miles of home. 26% said they will venture further than 100 miles, but stipulated that their trips will still be by car and within the U.S.”
Better accommodate car-bound adventure seekers
- If possible, make sure your property has ample parking space
- Increase your reception hours to 24/7 or provide contactless check-in (more on that later…)
- Create flexibility with check-in and check-out times to accommodate looser travel plans
- Advertise your business as a road-trip friendly destination on social, with media buys, and on popular travel websites.
Another great suggestion from ScreenPilot is to make sure you’re familiar with your property’s Google Analytics profile and top-viewed pages. This information can help guide digital and social ad content and targeting by showing you where people looking to stay at the hotel are coming from and what they’re most interested in. (Example, hotel accommodations vs. surrounding area activities.)
A road trip to a national park or other attraction within the state or a neighboring state — this is what travel will look like in the near future. Travel is expected to start with road trips not too far from home because of the feeling of insecurity associated with flights and airports at the moment.” — Trivago Business Blog
Host Online Hotel Events
As we mentioned in our recent blog, “Three Ways to Connect with Consumers at Home,” from this year’s stay-at-home orders emerged a major rise in the trend of online events. At first thought, this might not seem applicable to the hotel businesses but don’t scroll by so fast! Here are four ways to get your potential guest’s attention.
Interactive ways to keep audiences engaged
- Host a virtual cooking or cocktail-making class with your executive chef or lead bartender.
- Partner with local fitness professionals to hold online exercise classes in your gym or yoga sessions near your rooftop deck or anywhere that shows off your hotel’s space.
- Create a series of virtual hotel and city tours.
- Spa on site? Have your staff teach massage techniques and simple DIY spa services guests can do at home.
Create Contactless Guest Experiences
The recent increase in safety concerns, stay-at-home orders, and CDC guidelines for social distancing has led to additional need and use of added space, cleanliness, and technology to keep hotel guests safe.
New (soon-to-be-standard) hotel health and safety trends
- Mobile check in, check out, and service
AI-enabled apps such as Ivy by Go Moment are prime examples of how technology can help guests limit their interaction with others. Ivy not only offers mobile check in and check out but room service options and staff-to-guest communication.
- Grab-and-go meals
From a continental breakfast to full-meal restaurants, hotels nearly always offer food of some kind. Instead of shutting down these services completely, switch grab-and-go meals that guests can order for pickup.
- Reduced housekeeping during long term stays
Many hotels are limiting their room cleaning services to 2x/week vs. every day for long-term guests. Although it may seem counterintuitive to decrease cleaning, it actually will help limit the contact your guests have with your staff — and help keep both parties safer.
- Smart hotel rooms
Just like smart homes, smart hotel rooms allow guests to control every aspect of their rooms right from their smartphone thus cutting down on surfaces prime for contamination.
Despite the fact that COVID-19 has wreaked havoc for the hospitality industry and implementing these solutions won’t completely fix the losses caused, staying on top of trends as best as possible is key to staying relevant and accessible. If you’re looking for creative ways to put these trends (and more) to work for your hospitality brand, contact us today.
Prospect, generate and develop new business relationships. Skilled professional at selling AOR’s marketing and digital services.
Graduate from the University of Nebraska College of Journalism – BA in Advertising and Journalism. 8 years of sales experience in the Hospitality Industry. The ultimate people person.