8 Changes to Guest Expectations that will Redefine Hospitality Post COVID-19
Author: Kacey Bradley – travel and hospitality blogger behind The Drifter Collective
If you own a hotel, you know that times are challenging. As travelers tentatively return to their vacation and business travel schedules, their expectations have changed in a COVID-19 world. What should savvy hoteliers prepare for when it comes to life after the novel coronavirus? How can they enjoy a renewed reputation as the safest destination in town? The following eight tips will help you exceed guest expectations in the post-COVID-19 hospitality industry.
1. Improved Hygiene Measures
Guests will demand higher hygiene standards, and you don’t want a lack of supplies to create an impression of your facility as negligent. You should immediately install additional hand sanitizing stations if you haven’t already done so. Where should you place these? Start by including them at all entrances, exits and public restrooms. Other areas include meeting rooms, concierge desks, the registration area and any open dining areas.
2. Alternative Dining Options
Even if dining facilities are open in your area, you must remain aware that not all guests will feel comfortable frequenting them. The traditional continental breakfast buffet may well go the way of the dodo.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no evidence of the novel coronavirus spreading via shipped food products — consider this advice an invitation to amp up delivery options. If your rooms include kitchenettes, offering grocery delivery is an ideal way to show guests you care about protecting their health and safety.
3. Time to Breathe
The CDC recommends waiting 24 hours to clean rooms when an occupant had symptoms of the novel coronavirus. As a hotelier, you can’t tell whether a guest’s cough stems from cigarette smoking or allergies. You can, however, protect your staff and future visitors by giving each room that much time to “air out” before cleaning and rebooking it.
Granted, this accommodation will result in lower occupancy. However, many facilities now advertise their additional cleanliness measures as part of their marketing strategy — follow their lead.
4. Touchless Payment and Check-in Systems
Gone are the days when guests exchanged pleasant banter with the reservation desk clerk at check-in. In a post-COVID-19 world, they want to lower contact with strangers. If you haven’t already, you should invest in self-check-in kiosks or guest mobile check-in to minimize interactions. You benefit, too — you can program the screen to upsell and generate revenue when guests book additional services.
5. Hassle-Free Cancellation Processes
Travel restrictions continue to vary, and there’s no way to tell what limitations may exist a week or two from now. Guests want to know they won’t lose their money if they cancel their trip because of factors beyond their control. Update your cancellation policy to include more flexibility for last-minute bookings.
6. Keyless Entry
Your guests no longer want to grasp door handles — they’re among the most frequently touched surfaces. Spare them the hand sanitizer with touchless keycard entry systems that don’t require them to manipulate a handle. Some models unlatch the door so they can push it open with a hip. This convenience comes in handy when laden with suitcases.
7. Increased Housekeeping Options
Don’t expect your housekeeping staff to clean each room daily. Unless your guests request service, you want to minimize contact with your crew. Instead, upgrade your “Do Not Disturb” signage to reflect whether the visitor wants maid service to enter — otherwise, their room remains untouched until departure.
8. Supervised Play Areas
If your hotel offers outdoor play facilities for children, could you reassign some of your housekeeping staff to playground duty? They can give parents added peace of mind that another responsible adult is making sure kids are wearing their masks and high-touch surfaces are clean.
Prepare Yourself and Your Staff for Post-COVID-19 Hospitality Customer Expectations
As you prepare for a returning influx of guests, remain aware of the changing landscape due to the novel coronavirus. The eight tips above will help you and your staff prepare for changing customer expectations in a post-COVID-19 world.