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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?