The New Hotel Experience: Anticipating and Setting Traveler Expectations
With hotel gyms and spas closed, food service limited, and concierge services and housekeeping restricted, what does the new hotel experience look like? In this webinar, Moderator Jon Bolger, Head of Travel for Deloitte in the United Kingdom, was joined by other members of the GBTA Accommodations Committee – Bonnie Brabb, Enterprise Travel Manager for Telephone and Data Systems, Inc.; Holly McTague, Sr. Manager of North America Travel at Halliburton; and Steven M. Van Overmeiren, Associate Director of Global Travel Services at Baker McKenzie – to discuss top-of-mind issues: how to adjust traveler expectations, the future of loyalty programs for business travel, communication of hotel requirements to travelers (masks, public space restrictions, food service options, etc.), and more.
Several key insights included:
Delivering on guest expectations will look different moving forward; creative and adaptable hotels will come out ahead. Restrictions or closures of amenities doesn’t mean the guest experience has to be lessened. Creative work-arounds like appointment booking for fitness center use or offering information on local trails or hikes, contactless delivery of room service at the door, and offering more outdoor dining options can bring some much desired normalcy to the hotel stay. Hotels that consider the entire guest journey and experience will continue to differentiate themselves from the competition.
Travelers will be relying on their company travel professionals now more than ever. The qualifiers have changed. Travelers will expect that due diligence regarding safety and security has been conducted with preferred hotels. Conversely, post-trip feedback will take an elevated role, on all sides. Travel professionals will be soliciting and using feedback from their employees to ensure suppliers align with the company’s needs and safety requirements.
The pandemic has pushed new technologies to the forefront, and this will hold true in the accommodations space. “Contact free” has become a buzz term during the pandemic and in the hotel space it translates to virtual payments, online check-in, and communication apps. The best hotels will provide these technology options while still finding ways to engage with the traveler and make him or her feel welcome.
Communicate, then communicate some more. Travel professionals and suppliers should provide information and resources to travelers pre-trip and post-trip: What are the COVID requirements (masking, testing) at the location I’m going to? What safety precautions is the hotel taking and what amenities are available? Where do I go for health care or testing if I get sick while on the road? Increased transparency and communication will help the traveler feel prepared and safe.