Four trends towards hotel recovery in 2022
Amadeus has published a report revealing what may happen to the hospitality industry in the upcoming season
Almost two years after COVID-19 was first detected, the hospitality industry has yet to fully recover. Hotel occupancy rates and interest in traveling have fluctuated from season to season and country to country, all affected by government regulations, vaccine availability, and consumer confidence.
Although they are not at 2019 levels, the good news is that all regions have seen positive growth this year. According to Amadeus Demand360® data, global hotel occupancy peaked at 60% in July 2021, nearly doubling the 2020 performance for the same month. After a strong summer, stocks remain stable heading into fall in many regions, with Europe and China seeing increased demand in September.
So what can hoteliers do to inspire leisure travel in the months ahead? How will guest purchasing behavior and accommodation preferences continue to evolve in the coming year?
Based on new research and industry knowledge, we have compiled concrete ways of acting for hospitality professionals to develop and execute recovery plans in four key functional areas: sales, marketing, revenue management, and operations.
These are the most important trends and considerations for 2022:
Tailoring marketing plans to capture demand based on key market indicators It
may have been a normal process to chart business strategies on an annual basis, but the pandemic is changing travel dynamics too much for any decision to remain relevant long-term. By regularly evaluating key market indicators (such as booking term and preferred channels), hoteliers can understand when and how to communicate with guests in a way that fosters long-term loyalty.
For example, do most guests book within days or even hours of arriving at the property? Do they seem interested in last minute deals or promotions? The short waiting time is a trend that has persisted throughout COVID-19, with almost all reservations around the world being made between 0 and 7 days before the trip.
This buying behavior will require hoteliers to closely follow their local market conditions and have a wide range of strategies ready to deploy. This includes digital media and advertising, which were ranked as the most useful technology during the pandemic in a survey of hoteliers around the world.
Combining proactive email marketing campaigns with tailored advertising and promotions across paid search, social media, SEO, metasearch, and GDS will keep the hotel highly visible across channels where travelers and agents travel search and book.
Keep a real-time pulse of changes in booking channels and be prepared to pivot revenue strategies
Direct bookings soared during the height of the pandemic last year, as travelers sought more information directly from the property, from available services to disinfection protocols. Now, as travel continues to rebuild in many markets and consumer confidence recovers, bookings are being directed back to other channels like Brand.com, OTAs and GDSs.
Hoteliers must ensure that their revenue strategy is based on accounting and forward-looking data, and that it is agile enough to change course when necessary to capture the attention of travelers and attract bookings through different channels. . We recommend keeping a close eye on the competition to detect changes in their distribution strategies and see where a promotion or value-added offer can be introduced to differentiate the establishment. Don't forget about travel agencies searching the GDS: this channel is another great opportunity to highlight inventory to a key audience that often sells more experiences to leisure and business travelers, resulting in a higher overall value of the reserve.
With 95% of hoteliers worldwide leveraging market performance data to monitor trends, it is critical that hoteliers look at forward-looking business intelligence data to set competitive rates with attractive packages or services and offer flexible cancellation policies to win more business.
Automation and contactless technology will become a standard in hotel operations
. As travel returns, so does the need to improve operational efficiency as guest expectations and priorities have changed. Hotels around the world are expected to offer a clean and sterile environment with a high level of service. But this is not always easy in regions where labor shortages have affected the hotel sector.
As occupancy increases, hoteliers will have to find creative ways to satisfy customer requests without long wait times affecting their satisfaction results. One way to do this could be to introduce automatic cleaning programs to avoid staff problems and daily room cleaning. 20% of hoteliers around the world who have implemented this measure say they plan to maintain it in the long term.
If daily room cleaning is a necessity to uphold a property's brand promise or star rating, automation technology that streamlines operations and improves staff productivity will be key to tackling cleaning or maintenance tasks with ease. readiness.
In any case, for both large and small establishments, service optimization solutions are essential for hoteliers who will be forced to do "more with less" in the immediate future.
Among the many aspects of hotel operations that have changed due to COVID-19 is social distancing. Even in an industry focused on human connection, hoteliers continue to agree that both strengthened cleaning measures and long-term reduction of contact with guests are here to stay. 30% of hoteliers who participated in our global survey are very excited about the acceleration of new contactless technologies to improve the guest experience as we emerge from the pandemic. From check-in temperature checks, to mobile check-in and digital keys, hotels will have to consider technology to support a new era of contactless guest engagement. These technologies not only offer comfort to the guest,
Sales and group business will look fundamentally different from previous years
As travel rebuilds in both the leisure and business segments, sales teams have a unique role to play as the link between revenue generation. and the changing needs of customers. With traditional business travel still not returning to pre-pandemic numbers, sales teams are shifting their strategy to focus less on prospecting for corporate accounts and volume contracts and instead looking for new ones. creative opportunities.
As optional offices and telecommuting are gaining momentum, sales teams should consider how to position their properties as a preferred location to host remote team meetings or for local businesses that have closed their offices but still need a physical location to host. meet with clients. A similar approach could work for "leisure" travelers or digital nomads who have the flexibility to work from anywhere. They actively search for and book hotels as a base to explore new cities and regions at their leisure, so it's important to create messages and promotions that connect with them.
Another important dynamic for selling group businesses is determining whether leisure or corporate groups are comfortable hosting in-person events. Hoteliers can contact their interlocutors to gauge their level of interest in booking a meeting or event in 2021 and 2022. Additionally, sales materials can be updated with COVID-19 protocols to highlight security measures of attendees, and investment in new technology will support the ability to host socially distanced and hybrid events to capture short-term revenue until the big events return.
Although hoteliers continue to face numerous challenges on a day-to-day basis, the good news is that the sector is making steady progress in its recovery. Global hotelier sentiment reflects this, with 53% of respondents expecting pre-pandemic occupancy levels to return in 2022. To make the most of the current situation, we recommend that hoteliers connect with their target audience, to provide constant communication and assurance on the COVID-19 protocols and services available, and to invest for the future, whether in people, business intelligence data or technology.
These three elements will be some of the most critical to hoteliers' ability to manage today and grow tomorrow, and will ensure properties are prepared to rebuild stronger than ever.