From loyalty programs to tech to business travel, hotel industry experts discuss which trends and strategies will be more crucial than ever in the new year.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—As 2021 quickly approaches, hoteliers and industry experts are beginning to predict which of 2020’s trends will stick around as well as new opportunities that could emerge.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic threw the entire hotel industry into chaos, forcing properties to either rethink their strategies for 2020 or completely overhaul their operations, writes Hotel News Now contributor Heidi Banak in a 25 November article.
Banak, coordinator and research analyst for Hotel & Leisure Advisors, and her colleagues, looked ahead to 2021 to predict which new and innovative strategies might stick around as trends in the new year.
Among the predictions include an increased focus on customer service following a record dip in occupancy. Many brands are extending loyalty programs through 2021 and maintaining communication with brand-loyal customers.
“These brands are looking to 2021 for gains in occupancy and more regular travel from their most frequent guests,” Banak writes.
Hotel CEOs know business travel will change in many ways, but one thing they’re certain about is that it will return, writes HNN’s Danielle Hess in a 9 November article covering the “CEOs check in; The new norm/an industry update” session of the 42nd Annual NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference webinar series.
Keith Barr, president and CEO of InterContinental Hotels Group, said demand is starting to return in China with 400- to 500-person meetings.
Barr added that trend will follow in the U.S. and other parts of the world.
However, STR President Amanda Hite said during the “Statistically speaking” session of the NYU webinar series that 2021 is expected to be challenging for the industry, writes Hess in a 19 November article.
(STR is the parent company of HNN.)
“We’re anticipating the first half of 2021 will be where we expect to have potentially a vaccine, but control of the virus either through therapeutics or masks. (If) we are better at controlling the virus in the first half … the real pickup in business will happen in the second half,” Hite said.
STR expects some essential meetings and small- to medium-sized events to show up on the books in the second quarter of 2021, Hess writes.
With a full recovery in the overall industry lagging due to the lasting difficulties of COVID-19 and the U.S. presidential election, managing cash flow will be more crucial than ever in 2021, write HNN columnists Robert Rauch and Sarah Andersen in a 10 November opinion piece.
“Minimizing working capital and revisiting variable costs will be a requirement over the next year. After all, cash is king,” the two write.
If hoteliers do have the capital to invest in technology enhancements, it could help guests feel more confident in their hotel stay. Booking.com’s Future of Travel survey for 2020 shows that 63% of travelers want hotels to “use the latest tech” to ensure safety. And 64% of travelers feels tech “will be important in controlling health risks,” an 11 November infographic shows.
Ultimately, what mid- to entry-level managers can do for the next 18 to 24 months will prepare them for success in the new and ever-changing hospitality world, write HNN columnists Carl Winston and Scott Hermes in an 11 November opinion piece.
“Successful new industry leaders will emerge by realizing there are no sacred cows or status quo, and they are already adapting. Think outdoor experiences/dining, new housekeeping standards, in-room guest amenities, socially distanced events and contactless technology enhancements,” the two write. “Guests will continue to demand authentic and exceptional experiences along with enhanced safety and cleanliness.”