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During & post Covid-19 is a new era for the hospitality property industry and guest expectations and properties are going to have to re-evaluate the way they conduct business in order to survive.

Here is what you need to know.

Welcome to another edition of Hospitality Property School.

I am your instructor, Gerry MacPherson.

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Why People will Book

Based on a report by SevenRooms, a reservation system company, as things are today, Americans planning to book a hospitality property stay would most likely do so for one of the following four reasons. (If your property is located outside the USA, the reasons could vary.)

  • A vacation or out-of-town trip – 36 percent

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  • Celebration of a life event – 25 percent

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  • Business trip – 21 percent

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  • Staycation – 21 percent

In addition, 20 percent of respondents said they’d book a property stay if they were to receive a deal or promotion to enjoy in-house dining or entertainment.

 

 

Health & Safety Concerns

Guest expectations have changed this year and travellers are prioritizing health and safety considerations.

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34% said that they are more motivated to book at hospitality properties that are operating with the reduced guest capacity to allow for adequate social distancing.

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The data also showed that guests are only willing to book at hotels offering:

  • Pre-stay communications related to health and safety measures – 41%

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  • Health screenings for guests upon arrival – 30%

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  • Contactless technology tools – 20%

And it doesn’t stop there. Even after checking in, guests will be keeping an eye on the health and safety measures implemented at properties.

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The health and safety procedures that they observe after their arrival (or the lack thereof) can absolutely be deal-breakers, even to the degree that below-par protections would cause guests to end their stay early, never to return to that property and tell all their friends about their experience.

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67% of those surveyed said that they wouldn’t hesitate to cut their stay short and depart early if the property staff or servers looked or sounded ill.

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Other deal-breakers for hotel or resort guests include:

  • The property is too crowded and does not enforce social distancing – 63%

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  • The property staff and servers are not required to wear masks – 63%

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  • The property guests look and/or sound ill – 58%

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  • The property guests are not required to wear masks – 55%

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Guest Expectations – Preparing for Post Covid-19 | Ep. #223

Books with Tips & Strategies for

Your Hotel, Resort, Inn,

Bed and Breakfast Guest Expectations – Preparing for Post Covid-19 | Ep. #223

 

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Guest Expectations with Food & Beverage

The demand for dining out has not lessened as much as you might think in the current climate. This is also true for hospitality properties food and beverage venues, and it appears that guests continue to look forward to memorable, personalized dining and drinking experiences as part of their stay.

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In fact, 59% of guests want to make a reservation at a property restaurant in advance of their stay.

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These are down from 2019 but still high.

  • Guests say a complimentary breakfast is a top item they look for when considering a hospitality property’s dining amenities – 34%

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  • Those who said their property choice is likely to be influenced by its food & breakfast amenities and that a complimentary drink or meal provided upon arrival would influence their decision to book one property over another – 46%

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  • Multiple types of dining options being present at a property is among its most important dining amenities – 25%

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Amenities

Even with social distancing and mask-wearing in the mix, travellers still want to safely take advantage of the hospitality property amenities that make a stay special but want to be able to access them through advance reservation systems.

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The most popular choices:

Lounge at the pool – 42%

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Visit the spa/sauna – 37%

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Swim at the pool – 36%

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Use gym/fitness equipment – 28%

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Sit at the hotel bar – 22%

Among those respondents who said that they’d be more likely to stay at a specific property because of its food & beverage offerings and other amenities:

  • Receiving a personalized offer to book again would influence them to book at one property over another – 25%

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  • Earned loyalty rewards for a hotels’ restaurants and bars would convince them to book at a particular property – 34%

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Another thing you will need to take into consideration

During this pandemic, innkeepers have been struggling to find a balance between operating property and making sure that guests feel safe. There are guests who think you are not doing enough and others who think the new standards are overkill.

 

As a business owner or manager, it is important for you to err on the side of caution- not only for your reputation but also for liability. Ensure your guidelines are up to date with the most recent local health and safety protocols for businesses to practice.

 

You Need to Watch Your Online Reviews

Considering that 80% of travellers frequently read online reviews before making a booking (TripAdvisor 2019,), it is no surprise that negative reviews can have a significant impact on your property.

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It is important to understand that some people who are travelling during this pandemic are aware of the risks but not as interested in complying, expecting properties to provide services just as before the lockdowns.

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If you are thinking of your staff and making sure their safety is a top priority, some guests will think you’re being paranoid, even if it is justifiable. Conversely, if you are not doing most expected practices, like social distancing, they may call you careless.

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Either way can result in negative reviews:

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There are measures you can take to minimize negative reviews, improve customer service, and handle negative reviews that are sure to come.

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The priority is to adapt your property’s operations to the ‘new normal’.

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  1. Prioritize cleanliness and hygiene

Dirty rooms are never good, but during a pandemic, they are a definite no-no.

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You need to have created enhanced cleaning protocols to ensure that hygiene and cleanliness are priorities. This includes increased times to clean and sanitize rooms, using cleaning products that have a proven track record, and technology such as UV disinfection solutions and sanitizers.

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These strategies will give a clear sign to your guests that their safety is your top priority.

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Have you changed your property cleaning strategy since the beginning of the pandemic?

Leave your comment below

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  1. Enhance safety measures for guests and staff

Even though the hospitality property industry is traditionally a face to face business, properties have been continuously adapting, limiting this interaction for the safety of their staff and guests.

Examples include

  • Contactless check-ins & services

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  • Keyless room entry

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  • Plexiglas barriers help to minimize personal contact

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  • Masks, sanitizers and wipes supplied by the front desk

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And for your employees

  • Frequent temperature checks

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  • Repeated hand washing

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  • PPE should be utilized daily

These practices would create an impression of safety and care.

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  1. Encouraging budget-friendly travel and adapt to change

COVID-19 has negatively impacted the entire global economy- resulting in job losses, furloughed employees and businesses shutting down permanently.

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While the number of travellers has diminished since before the pandemic, many people who do travel are on fixed budgets. Encouraging budget-friendly travel through promotions or packages can help improve travel experiences.

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The “new normal” has resulted in many changes for travellers. Enjoying amenities like the pool, buffets and spa treatments are not high on many guests’ lists.

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Innkeepers have to get creative to give their guests a similar experience.

Grab and go breakfast or snack packs

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Local partnerships with restaurants

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Eco-tourism attractions & parks

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These types of amenities can help fill the void.

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  1. Responding to reviews

You need to be vigilant and use a professional and unbiased approach to help reduce negative reviews which despite your best efforts, will be inevitable.

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It is essential to have a good online reputation during this pandemic. Many people are hesitant to travel and will be very cautious of any property before they book. Your reviews will be a key factor, and responding to all reviews is not optional if you want your property to stand out.

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A TripAdvisor study revealed that 90% of potential guests believe a hospitality property that responds to reviews cares more about its customers.

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In conclusion

It is hard to predict exactly when the pandemic will be over although I do feel there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. The only way to keep the industry moving forward is to adapt to the new “norm”.

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This means adopting precautionary measures while doing our best to keep businesses thriving. Even though the industry has taken a devastating toll in 2020, it will rebound, as it always does but for you to succeed you will have to evolve with the changes to continue to grow.

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What have you changed at your property to adapt to the new norm?

Let me know in the comments.

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In the next episode, I will talk about the Hospitality Property School’s top ten most popular posts of 2020.

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That’s it for today’s episode,

Until next time, have a fun day.

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