The coronavirus pandemic presented an unprecedented challenge to the hospitality industry in 2019, and it continues to create problems for hotels today.
It’s no secret that hotel sales have suffered due to travel restrictions, concerns about infection, and staffing shortages. Many people have hesitated to book domestic or international trips, opting for staycations or outings closer to home.
However, those circumstances are beginning to change. 37% of U.S. travelers are planning to travel this year, a number that’s likely to climb even higher as the year progresses. To accommodate these travelers in a post-COVID world, forward-thinking brands are prioritizing a new kind of guest experience.
Keep reading to learn what these brands are paying close attention to and how you can stay competitive in 2022.
The way your customers perceive your hotel’s personality has always had a significant impact on their loyalty to your brand. In the pandemic era, that impact is even more evident.
The fear and uncertainty of the last two years mean that travelers are responding favorably to brands they feel they can connect with. Brands are shifting their messaging and experiences to ensure that they are as “human” as possible to build trust with guests.
An increase in direct bookings in 2021 reflects this trend. Companies like Hilton and Hyatt are leveraging loyalty programs and enhanced mobile apps to draw guests away from OTAs and toward direct brand interactions.
It’s not just big-name brands that are making changes to meet the moment. The digitization of hotel operations means that small boutique hotels can now offer guests a seamless experience on par with their corporate competitors.
Contactless mobile check-in, for example, means that limited hotel staff previously tied to the reception desk can now focus their attention on improving guest satisfaction in other areas of the hotel. Smart hotel locks with keypads make lost key cards a thing of the past, and smart rooms can adjust temperature and lighting when a guest arrives or leaves for the day.
Most of these upgrades aren’t possible without automation, so it makes sense that around 85% of hoteliers said they are prioritizing automation of hotel operations in the coming year.
Beyond the streamlining of automation, digitization is also enabling hoteliers to create a personalized guest experience.
Others are putting the power in guests’ hands, offering apps that allow guests to customize room temperature, lighting, available TV streaming services, and housekeeping schedule to suit their needs.
More and more, guests are expecting to be treated as individuals throughout their stay. Brands embracing this wave of digital transformation will be positioned to deliver that experience.
These trends reflect rapid shifts in an industry that’s leveraging technology to adapt their operations to a changing world. It can be difficult to know how to proceed in this context, even for the seasoned hotelier.
If you’re wondering about the next best step for your hotel or brand, consider the following tips.
Outdated computer systems make it near-impossible to create a smooth experience across the guest journey. Front desk staff keep guests waiting while they check-in, the accounting department has to sift through paper receipts, and the marketing team misses opportunities to get high margin, direct repeat business by not following up with guests.
If this sounds like your situation, you may want to consider updating and centralizing your systems with a CRM.
This single source of truth acts as a hub for hotel operations, meaning every department is linked, can communicate, and can see the guest profile to anticipate their needs. It also allows you to create simplified processes that enable your staff to turn their attention to more important areas of the business.
When Best Western implemented its CRM strategy, they saw a 19% increase in guest ratings and a 71% decrease in complaints.
Deliver end-to-end higher-margin bundle services with dynamic package pricing. Offer spa packages with certain room types, or business packages for MICE guests to increase your profits. A CRM makes these promotions possible, further personalizing the guest experience and increasing loyalty.
If you’re already using a CRM, you might wonder if you’re leveraging it to its full potential. Your CRM stores a lot of valuable data that can empower you to speak directly to your audience, automate processes, and personalize the guest experience.
Unfortunately, it can take a lot of time and effort to pull insights from that data. And any time your staff spends combing through data could be better spent taking direct action to enhance the guest experience.
Platforms like Thynk allow you to create custom dashboards and reports that make it possible to glean insights from your data with minimal effort. You and your team can manage all of your data in one place, at a glance and in real-time.
With drag and drop reports, you can:
Equipped with these insights, your team will be able to make constant improvements to the guest experience.
With the right systems in place, your teams can deliver a seamless, personalized experience that leaves guests feeling safe and satisfied. This positive guest experience, powered by technology, will elevate your hotels above the competition in 2022 and beyond.