Every hotel needs a new strategy to meet new consumer expectations

25 May 2021
The same old strategy to fill a hotel will not work past-pandemic and especially not during the recovery. The consumer's requirements, expectations, and behavior have already changed permanently. The most needed and significant change now has to occur within the hotel to create a high-performance commercial team to speed up the recovery.

There is now a new reality for the hotel industry that is slowly starting to emerge. The old strategies do not apply since the world has pivoted to digital. Everyone talks about a pent-up travel demand, and consumers have saved more money during the pandemic than ever before. People will use these funds for travel and experiences after over a year in lockdown at home. Business travel will continue to be under pressure due to discovered substantial cost savings and to comply with consumer sentiment about climate change. Business people also found that virtual meetings work and save both time and energy. No more early morning flights for a short meeting and then back again late at night.

These changes in the segment or customer mix mean that commercial teams in hotels have to create a new strategy for attracting a consumer with new requirements and expectations.

Travel patterns stay the same

Experts, surveys, and predictions might suffer from "overconfidence bias" that everything will change when looking ahead. That is highly unlikely. Most patterns and reasons for travel will stay the same. People still work on weekdays, kids still attend school on weekdays, so most families are free to travel for leisure on weekends and school holidays just as before, during, and after the pandemic. When business travel slowly returns, it will likely occur during weekdays and not during weekends — the same with business meetings, conventions, exhibitions, etc. Virtual or hybrid meetings will make attendance possible for people far away and will increase collaboration and productivity. People will travel for the same reasons after the pandemic as they did before the pandemic.

The pandemic accelerates existing trends

During the recovery, fewer people will travel, and there will be a shift in the segment mix for some time. The strong growth in leisure travel started several years before the pandemic, and businesses had already begun to pay attention to climate change in their travel policies before the pandemic. These trends gathered strength during the pandemic and will come back with full force during the recovery.

There are a few new travel reasons, such as work from anywhere instead of home, but the demand for accommodation in hotels for these travel reasons is insignificant. Most people would prefer Airbnb with more space for more extended stays when working from anywhere.

New consumer preferences and behavior

Guests will be staying at hotels for the same reasons as they did before the pandemic. However, the expectations of their interaction with the hotel and their stay have changed dramatically. Hotels that will meet the new expectations will be winners and will be able to charge a premium. The others will have a hard time recovering as long as there are not enough guests for all hotels.

Focus on value instead of a low rate

A successful strategy includes to re-think the hotel's value proposition for each target segment. New consumer expectations might even need additional investments, such as touchless technology. Focus on value instead of a low rate. People have stayed home for over a year and have the funds to spend. Everyone now prefers a great experience over a cheap one. Finally, make sure your fantastic offerings get exceptional exposure in social, search, distribution, and other media.

The only way to succeed with a new strategy is to work together in a commercial team. The most significant change, after the pandemic, that has to happen is within the hotel in acquiring guests with fewer people and resources. The only way forward is to break the old silos and work as a team. The team needs a strong leader, a commercial manager, focused on activities that drive all revenue sources. The role of the leader is to create a high-performance commercial team to get the hotel back on track quickly.

For more ideas, download the white paper "Create a High-Performance Commercial Team."