By Hâfi Martinsdóttir
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes | 1512 words
Having experienced many disasters, from 9/11 to SARS, hurricanes and the financial crash of 2008, the travel industry has proven time and time again how truly resilient it is.
True resilience requires creative adaptability and the experts all agree that pre and post COVID-19 travel looks quite different. Here are some of the key trends that our industry will shift towards as travel restrictions begin to lift. By understanding and informing ourselves of these changes ahead of time, we are empowering ourselves with the tools we need to roll with the challenges and embrace the opportunities.
Two days ago we attended an online summit with several hospitality and tourism industry experts. One of the key points that came out of this was that the most difficult task when it comes to receiving guests once more will be earning their trust. We have all had a shake up and this has caused us to reconsider our own health and safety when it comes to travel. The experts agree that we will see a shift in the amount of people looking for healthy travel and healthy stays at their destinations (not to be confused with wellness travel, although that is expected to become a priority too).
What some hotels are doing in Singapore in order to earn back trust is to invest in an SG Clean assessment, and upon achieving the level of cleanliness and safety required they are presented with an SG Clean quality mark to display. This shows their guests that they are taking this seriously and are being scrupulous with their hygiene. We know that we would certainly choose a hotel with this certificate over one without in our future travels.
We would highly recommend enquiring with your local cleaning services to set up something similar when local travel restrictions are lifted.
Guests will expect clear hygiene regulations and procedures to be advertised front and centre at your property and throughout the booking process. This will likely prove to be even more important than your property’s current amenities.
Click here to read an article by Properly who share how to properly disinfect a short-term rental. Their Everything Property Managers Need to Know About COVID-19 section is very helpful too.
Experts believe that we will see an increase in automation and technology to avoid unnecessary human interaction. Automated check-in processes and keyless entry tools are expected to become more mainstream.
“I expect you will see more property management companies move to automate the majority of the entire short-term rental process by using technology more and relying less on face-to-face interactions. Just like everyone now uses an ATM instead of waiting in line for the bank teller or how we all order delivery, you’ll see property managers use similar technology because renters are going to prefer it.” Explains Vered Schwarz, COO of Gusty to Rentals United.
As we shared in a previous article, (Why Wellness Tourism Will Be a Focus After COVID-19 Dissipates) industry experts anticipate a rise in the amount of people booking longer term rentals, between 2 – 4 weeks amongst nature and away from other people, especially if they usually reside in population dense cities. A reduction in people wishing to stay in hotel rooms is expected as travellers are much more likely to want the privacy and security that comes from booking an entire home.
People will also continue to need 14-day bookings in private lodgings to sit out their quarantine after travel. These guests will likely opt for accommodation on the more luxurious end of the spectrum in an effort to experience a home-away-from-home stay to mitigate the discomfort of having to isolate.
“Getaway destinations close to nature and niche luxury properties will increase and be much more desired after recovering from the lock-down in the cities,” says Moriya Rockman, Founder of Smiling House, via Rentals United.
As we covered in a previous article (Covid-19 Lessons: Why We Shouldn’t Put All of Our Eggs in One Basket When It Comes to Taking Guest Bookings), property managers will diversify the types of channels that they advertise on in order to spread their brand’s awareness further. From advertising with several well-known online travel agencies to increasing their brand’s presence on more niche holiday rental platforms. We will also see an increase in property managers utilising their own websites to secure bookings by offering ‘book direct’ promotions and guest loyalty programmes. Diversification will be key to attracting a wider audience to their properties.
Variety doesn’t stop at advertising, property managers are expected to begin diversifying their portfolio to include a mixture of short-, mid- and long-term rental options for their guests. This will undoubtedly help them withstand any future crisis by creating a more flexible business model and maintaining several stable revenue streams.
In a previous article we covered the importance of staying active on social media and with your guests, (What You Can Do to Give Your Business a Fighting Chance During These Turbulent Times). Now is not the time to go quiet, keep your audience in the loop with you and your property’s situation, encourage human interaction (albeit online rather than physically), post videos of you speaking directly to your audience about your personal experiences during this.
Property managers who foster strong connection with their audiences, especially during this time, are likely to fare better when we come out the other side and people begin booking once more.
Start thinking about your marketing campaigns for the future when the travel restrictions begin to lift. Asses the data of your recent marketing efforts and get prepared so that when people are beginning to think about booking, you are there and ready to encourage them to choose your property over everyone else’s.
Taking action now, rather than staying quiet, watching and waiting, will ensure you are in a stronger position coming out of this crisis than others who chose to shutdown and hide.
As Eric Bailey the Global Director of Travel at Microsoft pointed out, travellers will want a more personalised experience.
“I think you’ll start to have this curated experience end to end”, Eric explains, “you know who is picking you up from your house, because you’re not going to get into an Uber pool that’s for sure. So, you’re going to know the driver that’s going to pick you up from your house. You’re going to know the terminal that you’re going to (..) you’re going to know what hotel you’re staying in, which restaurants you’re going to eat at. You’re not going to be walking out to the night market and just picking up food somewhere. You’re going to eat in that hotel probably, you’re going to go to one particular building. So, what I think we’re going to start to see is that the end-to-end is going to be completely planned out ahead of time for the travelers.”
Travelers will likely seek out trusted destinations who clearly state their cleaning processes and with whom you can enjoy an entire stay without needing to venture further into the nearby populace.
Guesthouses with their own kitchens could provide their guests with a shopping list ahead of time and before their guests arrive they would ensure their kitchen is well stocked with their requested items. Or perhaps a small hotel with a restaurant might provide an all-inclusive deal so that guests can rest assured that they won’t need to leave the property, thus reducing their interaction with other people outside of the hotel.
There are many ways that hoteliers and guesthouse owners can accommodate their newly cautious guests and ensure that they are able to enjoy their stay in comfort and privacy.
Unsure of your next step? Get clear on your hotel’s recovery strategy
As COVID-19 is unlikely to disappear completely without an effective vaccine, it’s expected that we will have a W shaped recovery with lock downs repeatedly being enforced, relaxed and enforced again over time. Being prepared for this tumultuous recovery will stand you and your hotel in good stead to ride the waves to come.
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About Magpie Creative Co.
Magpie Creative Co. is a digital marketing and design consultancy with a worldwide client base. We provide branding, web design and online marketing for businesses that offer luxury guest experiences and require an efficient online booking system.
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