7 Ways Hotel Stays Will Change After The Pandemic

Hotels have gone through a deeper recession than any current executive or property owner has ever experienced. Many properties have closed, some will change hands. And costs have been cut wherever possible.

Guest expectations have changed too – around service and cleanliness – while there’s never been more of a need to compete for a limited amount of business, something that will remain true even as the pandemic comes to a close. Here are 7 things to expect for hotel stays going forward.

  1. Full breakfast will take time to return. Limited service options will remain as long as the competitive environment allows it. Hotels will want to limit cost of breakfast for guests, taking measured steps largely in response to competitive pressure.

  2. Mobile check-in and keyless finally has a purpose. Adoption of self-check in was always limited, and though Marriott actually allowed hotel owners to delay investing in keyless room entry during the pandemic more guests are getting used to this and will likely continue to use the feature post-padenmic.

  3. Increased cleaning will stay and will continue to be inconsistently applied, as major chains fail to sufficiently audit properties (especially franchises and properties in more remote locations). People look more closely at cleaning than they used to and flag trash left behind or other cleaning fails as indicative of larger issues at a property.

  4. Hotel amenities will largely return whether fitness centers or pools, because hotels already have made the capital investment so the cost of offering these is low.

  5. Reduced housekeeping will remain we were seeing this already at full service properties like the Hyatt Regency Seattle. While luxury properties will offer daily housekeeping, expect even the median Hyatt, Marriott, and Hilton owner to work with their chains to keep housekeeping expenses low. To the extent hotels scale back on daily housekeeping, though, they downplay their differentiation with Airbnb.

  6. Expect elite promotions for 2021 and probably promotions to encourage co-brand credit card use as well. Hilton already announced lower qualification thresholds for 2021. Other chains are behind the 8-ball here, though some may prefer double qualifying promotions over lowered requirements.

  7. They’ll have to view Airbnb as a more serious competitor more people have been introduced to homeshares during the pandemic, and Airbnb is going public. The check-in process and cleaning processes have improved, though Airbnb still isn’t good about actually guaranteeing that a product is as-advertised or that a booking will actually be honored. Still, dismissing Airbnb as a competitor by saying it appeals to a different customer will likely make less sense in the future especially as leisure travel continues to dominate while business travel is slower to return.

Is what’s most important to you in a hotel stay different than it was before March? Will your stay patterns change, and will investments in things like cleanliness, meals and amenities drive those changes?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Mid -level hotels will suffer because the average OPM corporate drone salesman will not be travelling around.

  2. We will be having limited breakfast for quite some time and more lounges will be closed permanently (at least in USA). Even if they reopen, do not count on the same offerings.

  3. I’ve used AirBnb for the first time during Covid. Five times actually. I have found it to be less than stellar. Many “high end” places, especially city condos, are actually run by large management companies in multiple cities. On two occasions the units in the photos were not the one I was given (once I was issued a full refund). Check in times of 5PM (which is absurd) and check out times of 10AM….really? Twice they could not even meet the 5PM check-in and cleaners were still in there working, once until 6:30. Cleaning was spotty at best, and the units were poorly stocked. These management companies hire other companies specializing in AirBnb cleaning and upkeep…problem is that there is no supervision to their quality as the management firms are often located elsewhere. No checks and balances at any property. Add to this abysmal cancellation policies. But apparently they are getting away with it even during Covid.

    I am done unless it’s a specialized home in the country etc, that is actually managed by a host that’s nearby. Otherwise hotels offer a much more reliable product and, even if more expensive, a better value to me.

  4. I’ll be back traveling weekly for work once I get the vaccine. I think I’ll be working harder to stay at Hyatt’s, as they are the only ones (IMO) they still rewards loyalty to their globalist. Marriott has taken away all my reasons to maintain platinum. I’m hoping all the hotel chains bring back full service breakfast and lounges, as that’s what I value. I have a feeling Hyatt will lead there, with Marriott being the further behind from the majors.

  5. Literally nothing in my expectations has changed.

    Give me a good bed, a good shower, and working internet.

    Oh, and more shampoo/soap dispensers and less high waste single-use bottles.

    Didn’t use online checkin and electronic keys before, still won’t after.

  6. “Oh, and more shampoo/soap dispensers and less high waste single-use bottles.”

    I’m the exact opposite. If they don’t have the sealed individual bottles, then I’m done with that brand.

  7. Re: 1.

    Stayed at a Radisson Blu in Europe last night and had an omelette made-to-order, smoked salmon, specialty coffee. I’m not Anglo-American so I leave it to you guys to decide if this is to be considered a “full breakfast” 😉 (personally, I’m happy and couldn’t care less whether it’s a full breakfast or not.)

    Re: 2.

    Without any in-depth knowledge, from my perspective as a guest this was always a supply-side issue. C19 didn’t change that. Many hotels get it wrong, some get it 95% right, few get it 100% right. I guess, sure, let’s hope C19 induces hotels to make new investments in this.

    Re: 5.

    I think it’s really tough to make this prediction unless you have certain markets in mind specifically. I cannot imagine staying at a solid 4* hotel in Asia (a better Hilton, Marriott, Crowne Plaza, Pullman, Hyatt Regency, Shangri-La/Hotel Jen, …) and not getting proper housekeeping upon request. Sure, in other continents it’s different. But I think turndown service is overrated. Peace and quiet is getting more popular. There’s not just “enhancement” here, new generations with different preferences play a role, too.

    Re: 6

    How could anyone dispute that?

  8. @Tom I hope that “once I get the vaccine” really means “a few weeks after I get the second shot of the vaccine”. And that you realize the difference between protection from getting seriously ill from the virus (which the vaccine should provide you) and protection from catching and spreading the virus (which the vaccine may NOT provide you), and thus continue to take precautions such as mask wearing and social distancing until herd immunity sets in.

  9. In the “upper middle” category — the Hyatt Places, Holiday Inn Express and Hampton Inn category — I actually expect their “normal” breakfast offering will return pretty quickly (although,admittedly, Hyatt says they’ll be tinkering with this). The same with the “better” extended stay hotels. There is a lot of competition in this sector, and hotels will lose business if they still their customers. I’ve been travelling a lot during Covid times, and I call the hotels directly and book away if they’re not doing hot breakfast. It’s expensive and/or inconvenient to go out for breakfast, so why wouldn’t you stay with a nearby competitor who’s giving you a better product?

  10. From your predictions it sounds like giving loyalty to any hotel chains is going to be a waste for the next few years. Even the low level loyalty of looking first at chains where you have status.

    If that’s what they want, I can oblige.

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