Among the many aspects of travel that COVID-19 turned upside down is the position of hotels and rentals as short-term hospitality options. With safety concerns surrounding the use of common areas and exposure to high-touch surfaces, travelers who have never before stayed in alternative accommodations have suddenly found themselves booking private rentals. It is for this reason that hoteliers across the globe are anxiously awaiting travel’s recovery. Still, there are strategies they can employ to encourage bookings until the pandemic is behind us for good.
Here are 4 ways to keep your hotel in the game before that day arrives.
1. Limit human interaction
While players in the short-term rental space generally don’t have a front desk, reception stands are a long established trademark of hotels, both large and small. The social distancing necessitated by COVID-19, however, may have been the stimulus needed to usher the hotel industry into the new age of hospitality, one characterized by tech tools such as digital concierges and keyless entry systems. If you haven’t already implemented contact-reducing technology in hopes that the pandemic would be short-lived, know that recent health concerns have only served to escalate an imminent revolution of the industry.
Take the opportunity to modernize your hotel and meet elevated guest expectations (while providing more peace of mind); this will serve you long after the pandemic is a thing of the past.
2. Implement automation technology
Don’t stop at guest-facing technology. With hotels needing to function on reduced manpower due to financial constraints resulting from COVID-19, putting as many backend processes as possible on auto-pilot will go a long way in supporting leaner teams. By delegating operations like guest communication, task assignments, report generation, and room pricing to sophisticated automation tools, you’ll be able to get more done with a lower headcount and won’t have to worry about sacrificing quality or efficiency.
3. Capitalize on emerging trends
COVID-19 brought more to the industry than just more stringent cleaning protocols - a batch of new travel trends emerged and hospitality brands had to quickly pivot to accommodate. For one, the work-from-anywhere trend, a result of the shuttering of offices and the freedom of employees to work remotely, has benefitted property management companies and hoteliers who can provide comfortable work environments. Rest assured this doesn’t have to be a large investment and can mean simply offering a desk, a chair and high-speed WiFi. Or, take it a step further and offer loyalty programs built around this concept like Mint House did with their new nomad pass.
Another phenomenon, driven by the closing of tourist attractions, has been the transformation of the accommodation into the destination. Guests pursuing a change of scenery are more likely to select accommodations with plenty of in-house entertainment or outdoor space, so outfitting your units with exciting amenities will go a long way in capturing this market - whether that be high-quality speakers or offering Netflix free of charge.
4. Prioritize cleanliness
Many predict that guest expectations surrounding cleanliness are here to stay. In fact, almost a third of the more than 500 industry players who responded to Guesty’s recent survey regarding the recovery of travel believe that more stringent cleaning protocols will endure post-COVID. Therefore, to stay in the game, hoteliers must continue to take cleanliness seriously, starting by creating clear and organized workflows for their housekeeping staff that allow them to facilitate quality assurance across the board. In addition, it’s crucial to market and publicize your cleanliness initiatives and commitment to providing safe and thoroughly cleaned rooms for all of your guests loud and clear across your site and social channels; in doing so, travellers will feel more confident to book.
While hotels don’t always boast the private nature inherent to short-term rentals, there are certainly measures hoteliers can take to bolster occupancy rates as we wait out what is hopefully the last leg of this pandemic. What’s important to remember is that these strategies will not only serve to make accommodations more attractive to guests during COVID-19, but also well after, as many new expectations will last beyond the pandemic. Efforts taken to adapt your properties now are sure to pay off in the long run, even as travel normalizes and we enthusiastically return to business as usual.
This post was contributed by Guesty, a short-term rental property management platform that automates and streamlines the daily, complex operations of managing flexible inventory.