The COVID pandemic that started in early 2020 has at least temporarily changed more than a few ways people function. The hospitality trend quickly adapted to new customer wants and has offered customers some new amenities that adapt with the workplace, social distancing, and changing desires for going out. We will review many of these changes with you so you know the current hospitality trends in 2021 are being put forth by hospitality management and hospitality companies.
1. Hygiene Protocols
People thought about the state and cleanliness of less their rooms, lobbies, and public areas before COVID, but the virus has put additional stress on the need for cleanliness and communication. Walking into a hotel lobby, travelers wouldn’t know what the cleaning team at a hotel did just by looking. Public spots like tables, chairs, and countertops looked clean, but the hour and methods used to clean were not often specified.
Many customers now expect a sign or something readable acknowledging the current cleaning process by the hotel. The signs often acknowledge awareness of health issues caused by the virus and state how often public areas are clean, in addition to telling customers to isolate if they are feeling symptoms. More places are also expected to enforce some level of mask wearing, whether or not masks are legally required in public places in the area.
2. Longer Stays
Travel restrictions varied by state and sometimes county. This meant that some trips in 2020 were at risk of being canceled and that problem hasn’t quite changed yet in 2021. After all, traveling to a different spot is less enjoyable when the traveler can’t enjoy the public scene where they are going.
With the uncertainty of stay at home orders from state to state, customers were less willing to take risks on going for repeated shorter vacations. Travel companies determined customers were seeking longer stays because they were less risky and easier to plan. Travelers could at least get a vacation, though they might not experience the variety they really want. Expect this trend to continue as well as more travel companies offer specific long stay packages.
3. Work Remotely
One major change for hospitality trends in 2021 is the need to work outside of a normal office while on vacation. More workers are opting to do at least a little bit of work while traveling to avoid the build up of responsibilities when they return home. The “Business Center” at many hotels simply isn’t good for workers who now have daily Zoom video calls and often have out loud discussions with colleagues over the Internet, in addition to needing to concentrate.
Hotels offering faster WiFi and better workstations to stay ahead of the time. Faster WiFi is needed to download large files faster and keep up with video and audio conferencing, even from outside the hotel room. A hotel in Aruba has taken amenities a step further. They offer an outdoor workstation on or near the beach, including Internet, a fast computer, table, and accessories. A traveler could literally work on the beach without needing an odd looking Zoom filter to produce the experience.
4. Touchless Technology and Smart Rooms
Hospitality trends in 2021 were already close to being touchless, but COVID has pushed them ever closer. In the near future, visitors may not even need to talk to the front desk to check in. Instead, check in and check out can be done online. You’ll also need to worry less about using a magnetic card someone else used and instead use your phone to check into your room.
Some customers are also used to having their own heating and cooling settings at home, and hotels are making this possible on the go too. Downloading an app for the hotel can let visitors set their temperature and other settings to be remembered later when they go to a different room or same brand hotel.
Going along with extended stays, hospitality management is also learning to deal with the need to be flexible. Customers dislike having to cancel travel plans, and dislike being charged or penalized for canceling a trip at the last minute. Marriot was the first to offer a 24-hour advance cancellation period which is more generous than previous offerings, which was also copied by its rivals who knew that customers were more likely than ever to need to cancel based on health conditions and travel problems. This trend offered hospitality companies less predictability in bookings but offered travelers more assurance.
6. Privacy and Distancing
You’ll see the words “Private” and “Secluded” in many ads for bed and breakfasts and rentals. COVID has made some health-conscious customers want extra distance between them and their neighbors instead of sharing the same amenities and hallway.
Visitors are also more likely to literally want to get away from it all and opt for renting a home just for themselves on a larger plot of land instead of within one big building with others.
Combine these desires with touchless technology and a customer could be able to mostly choose when they want to see other people while they recharge and relax.
7. More Value
With a less than healthy mid-COVID economy, some are traveling with a tighter budget. These same people are more so valuing getting away, but also have health and safety needs in addition to a comfy bed. They are willing to spend a little more to get safety and comfort, but hotels need to be more budget conscience to win their business. This could include cutting small amenities or letting visitors choose more a la carte amenities that could bring the cost of travel down.
Between technology and COVID, hospitality trends in 2021 have included small but noticeable changes. The average customer has a range from wanting more health practices to desiring seclusion for the sake of seclusion. The industry continues to know its customers well and has adopted many of these changes as travel restrictions were applied in the last year.