As the world copes with the pandemic, the hospitality industry has come up with innovative ways to keep their businesses up and running
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced industries to rethink their approach for the future and to bring about changes that can cope with not just the current pandemic but also the challenges to come. The hospitality industry is no different, and being the industry that was hit the hardest, it has had to make changes that can ensure its growth today and tomorrow.
In this “new normal” the industry is facing the double whammy of the need to review trends and put concerns into perspective. Regardless of the negative effects of the pandemic on the day to day functioning of the hospitality industry, there are new opportunities that present a lot of scope. Let us look at some of the trends for 2021, which promise to push the development of the industry in a positive direction.
From the use of chatbots to mobile check-in, the hospitality industry is catching up with the fast pace of technological development. With contactless payments, it’s clear that automation is the future. And with travellers and customers becoming more and more tech-savvy, it’s essential for the hospitality industry to offer up-to- date and user-friendly apps and websites.
Along with this, every establishment must have high-quality tech equipment and knowledgeable support staff. With the use of IoT and Artificial Intelligence (AI), guests can encounter a seamless digitized experience. An added bonus of digitization is it helps to uphold some of the safety precautions of the pandemic, which are needed for a safe and clean setting and to maintain social distancing. At the end of the day, automation and digitalization go a long way in ensuring guests are comfortable and secure.
Safety and hygiene
“Going above and beyond” is a norm in the hospitality industry. With the pandemic necessitating more focus on hygiene, establishments need to inspire confidence that the wellbeing of their customers has been taken care of.
Hygiene, the new luxury, is simply a part of a carefree guest experience. From the moment a guest sets foot into an establishment until they leave, the staff needs to take measures to ensure their safety. More than anything, it’s about ensuring that guests are aware of the steps establishments are taking and not just advertising the changes that can change a potential customer into an active one.
A commitment to green and sustainable tourism
The mantra ‘Go green or go home’ is now a trend. Not only is it extremely important for the environment, it also grabs the attention of the younger generation (Millennials and Gen Z) earning brand loyalty.
In recent years, the hospitality industry has made tremendous strides. Brands have pledged to reduce waste, carbon emissions, water usage, and also focus on renewable energy resources, and eliminating disposable items like plastics, etc. Installing solar panels and updating systems so that lights and air conditioners automatically switch off when guests leave their rooms. Going green is happening, but sustainability goes beyond environmental friendliness. Sustainability is more about supporting the local community and businesses, engaging in fair-market competitiveness, providing good labor conditions, and respecting cultural values. Implementing all these practices is a trend that will stand the test of time and ensure inclusive growth.
Customizing for the future
A major part of the hospitality industry has been creating unique experiences. And customization is more important than ever now. To make guests’ stay exceptional is more than covering the basics. A brand can make a difference by focusing on particularly meeting the needs and wants of visitors, providing tailor-made services, and just creating an individualistic and unique experience. While basic standards like free water and Wi-Fi go without saying, industries also need to go one step further. We’re talking individually tailored service packages, greeting by name in the rooms, flexibility in cancellation policies (especially during the current pandemic scenario), replacing paper menus with digital ones, etc.
Many industries took a hit during the pandemic, but that didn’t stop the ingenuity of the hospitality industry. Hotels began converting their space into coworking spaces as well as creating shelters for the homeless and renting out rooms as emergency hospitals. To also accommodate the varying and changing needs of travelers and times, a number of hotels have changed their models or adapted. From co-living spaces to service apartments to boarding houses to monthly rentals for remote workers or single travelers, there are a plethora of options. By the look of things, these alternatives will be a standard running parallel alongside classic hotels. The theory behind this idea is simple – the more rooms are empty, the more money is lost. So filling rooms again and longer discovering different purposes is a unique way out. This “alternative” industry trend will thus continue in the years to come.
Planning for the future
With vaccination drives gaining momentum, the future looks set for people returning to their travel plans. Although uncertainty looms, what remains unchanged is people’s desire to travel – whether it’s climbing a new summit, looking for an ideal beach, escaping the hustle and bustle of the city, or resuming face-to-face business. Meanwhile, the hospitality industry can work on ways to adapt their business strategies to heightened expectations of cleanliness and service and better reflect the evolving expectations of travelers.