10 Things We Learned About the Future of Hospitality in 2021
With another challenging year behind us, we have all learned a lot about what it means to navigate a business through uncertain waters. Here below, we sum up 10 things 2021 taught us about the future of hospitality.
1. Crisis recovery is not linear: In the span of twelve months, we dealt with several new variants, reopened and closed borders, and went from a health crisis to a labor crisis. To prepare for recovery means to be flexible, efficient, and future-proof your business.
2. Automation as the new standard: A trend that started way before the pandemic, but which accelerated over the past year. Automation has proven to be essential for any business to overcome the ups and downs of the industry, by allowing us to increase efficiency when dealing with limited resources.
3. AI & Chatbots are here to stay: Another way technology has transformed hotel operations is via AI, and more specifically chatbots. With the growing need for up-to-date information and immediacy, chatbots were a hot topic in the digital transformation conversations of last year.
4. Contactless technology: Self-service technology had already been adopted in many industries pre-pandemic, but an industry that relies on human contact as much as hospitality, showed resistance to the idea. However, with a growing interest in contactless interactions, hotels too started to look into ways to adapt their high-touch processes, like check-in, to fit the post-pandemic expectations.
5. Tech implementation strategies are key for success: As we increasingly see more investments into hotel technology, we need to keep in mind that the success of your tech stack does not only lie in the technology you buy, but also in how it is implemented into your organization. Make sure your team receives good onboarding to ensure a smooth and frictionless transition.
6. New channels of communication: Guest habits have changed, and so should your guest engagement strategies. Communication runs primarily via mobile phones, and messaging channels like WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger are becoming essential for successful interactions with guests.
7. Leverage the pre-stay phase to boost revenue: while in the past we almost exclusively focused on the guest experience on-site, hoteliers are now understanding that the guest journey starts well before check-in. By engaging with guests pre-arrival, hoteliers can boost revenue. For example, a chatbot integrated with a booking engine can simplify and optimize direct booking strategies, or sending out pre-stay communication with upselling can create more revenue opportunities.
8. When in doubt, ask your guests: the problem with navigating unknown territory is that you do not always know how to act. In that case, just ask. Blue Tree Hotels cleverly used a survey to ask for the opinion and priorities of guests to better organize their reopening. The success of the survey (almost 5,000 responses!) showed that guests are willing to assist hoteliers in these difficult times.
9. Reputation always matters: remaining competitive has become challenging, and a good online reputation could be your edge moving forward. As many haven’t traveled in a while and might feel uneasy exploring new territories, the opinions of previous guests matter more than ever.
10. Guest Experience remains at the heart of it all: Exactly because traveling now can be risky and complicated, we should offer our guests the stress-free experience they long for. We have all been locked up for too long, and are in need of a great, and relaxing experience.
A Message from Us to You
How does the future of hospitality look like? It is hard to say. After dealing with COVID-19 for almost two years, we all learned to manage our expectations and prepare for the unknown, and as our CEO Michael Kessler has put it, “the hospitality industry is resilient, and we can bounce back from this with strength and innovation, both now and in the future”.
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