For the hospitality industry, 2020 was a challenging year. As restrictions are lifting, hotels are expecting an upcoming surge in leisure travel. But are companies prepared?
“The vaccicationers are out, they’re excited, and the pent-up demand from being locked down has caused them to come out in droves.”– Vaughn Davis, Dream Hollywood
In a recent webinar hosted by Canary Technologies with HTNG and Beekeeper, hospitality leaders weighed in on:
- Challenges they faced during the pandemic
- How technology carried their business through the tough times
- Trends they think will define hospitality in the near future
Let’s look at the key points of the conversation:
Health and Safety Is Still a Priority
All of the panelists agreed that health sanitation guidelines were the number one concern for guests during the pandemic. Hotels had to maintain strict protocol for cleaning physical spaces and enforcing social distancing as much as possible.
With more relaxed regulations, hotels have to still maintain a high standard of sanitation. At the same time, they are having to accommodate different beliefs from guests about what would make them feel most comfortable.
Guest Expectations Are Higher
During the pandemic, hotels had to rethink their operations. All of the panelists agreed that adopting new technology was key to making the guest and employee experience safer.
Now, guests expect that technology to still be there because it has significantly improved their experience.
“Coming back into the old world? That’s not happening. This is a new world. A lot of this technology is here to stay and the pandemic has only accelerated the development and utilization of this new technology.”– Vaughn Davis, Dream Hollywood
Vaughn shared that even before the pandemic, 80-85% of guests preferred texting over calling the front desk. The pandemic accelerated creating a new operating model with that in mind:
During the pandemic, guests at Dream Hollywood could use QR codes to access a menu and pay for their meal instead of giving a credit card. Guests could also check into the hotel and go up to their rooms without speaking to an associate.
While interacting with hotel staff will still be a part of the guest experience, it will likely be a choice that guests can opt-in or out of.
Renewed Focus on the Employee Experience
During the pandemic, hotels had to ensure the health and safety of their staff through:
- Revamped safety guidelines and training
- Virtual meetings and strategic break structures
- Focus on mental health and wellbeing
Panelists agreed that the number one way to improve the hotel employee experience was through digital communication.
From communicating safety updates to shift schedules, platforms like Beekeeper allowed staff members to stay engaged through:
- A mobile-first approach
- Instant messaging
- Virtual training
- Employee surveys
Our panelists cited that creating a positive work environment was important for boosting staff morale during difficult times. Using communication tools allowed them to check in with employees more often to make sure their mental health needs were met.
Adapting to a Complex Ecosystem
While leisure travel may be coming back at a rapid pace, hotels can’t expect old solutions to work in this new environment. The panelists agreed that taking a DIY approach to internal communication isn’t a good idea.
Here’s what Mike Blake, CEO of HTNG had to say about why hotels need to consider adopting platforms like Beekeeper:
“Go out to people who are tried and true because those are the ones where you’re going to win. A lot of hotel companies experienced many layoffs during this time. They need to go out and procure those solutions. They don’t have time anymore to invent them.”– Mike Blake, HTNG
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