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Prepare for a quick recovery

20 January 2022
Sooner rather than later, the pandemic will be over, and travel will bounce back. However, I do not think anything will be the same as two years ago. The world, the consumers, the business mix, the technology, the attractiveness to work in the industry, and many other things have changed. The way to acquire guests, serve guests, and make a healthy profit has changed. The old way of working will not lead to a successful hotel.

By now, everyone has heard about all changes going on so many times, so it is probably starting to sink in. However, the biggest challenge of them all lies in front of us. We all have to change, which will be the most difficult challenge during the pandemic. Here are some ideas about adapting commercial thinking to the world after the pandemic.

A shift in business mix

The traveler is not the same as before the pandemic. Some segments will not return as quickly, while others will appear in even more significant numbers. A shift in business mix from business to leisure has already happened. The changing business mix heavily impacts how a hotel will attract its future guests with more focus on consumer marketing and a bit less focus on the business segments (at least for now). The shift in target groups will also impact profitability negatively. The cost of servicing a leisure guest is much higher than managing a business traveler.
Actions to assess and adjust to a new business mix:
  • Re-distribute resources, both financial and human, to consumer marketing.
  • Research available technology to improve productivity in marketing, sales, and revenue management.

New consumer behavior

Innovative hotels have already implemented processes where guests will be more involved in managing their stays, such as mobile check-in and check-out, food ordering systems, and other self-service technology. The guests love this, mainly because it is instantly available and does not depend on less accessible staff members.
Actions to assess and adjust to the new consumer behavior:
  • Re-design the guest workflows from booking, check-in, stay, and check-out.
  • Research available technology that can improve the guest workflows and enhance guest satisfaction.

The new way of working

During the pandemic, the perception of speed has changed. The world moved fast before the pandemic, but the expectations of how quickly something should happen are now even higher. The paradox is that this became possible because people started to work from home (or everywhere), and time management became their responsibility instead of the managers. At the same time, people became very familiar with digital communication over Zoom, Teams, Google Meet, and other similar services. As a result, meetings are shorter, more focused, and have no downtime in travel before or after the meeting.
People ordering something online expect fast delivery. Amazon understands this, and your order is on the truck and on the way to you 45 minutes after Amazon receives the order. If this is possible in complex logistics, people expect action much faster within travel and hotels. The only way to speed things up is to re-design processes and improve them over time.
Actions to speed up:
  • Re-design all workflows to increase and speed up throughput
  • Research available technology and learn from other industries

The invisible changes

The hotels are the same as two years ago. The buildings have not changed. The bed and furniture, the food, spa treatments, meeting rooms, the parking lot are all the same. The changes are invisible since they can be found in expectations, how guests behave and work, and how hotels attract them. Maybe invisible changes are more profound and need more attention to become a successful hotel again.