This past year was tough for the hospitality industry. How will the events of the COVID-19 pandemic impact the lodging and hotel industry in 2021? From revamped sanitation protocols to alternative accommodations to environmentally conscious services, there are a lot of changes happening in hospitality venues. Here are some of the trends that hospitality experts predict will take off in 2021.
Changing Trends in the Hospitality Industry for 2021
Some of the biggest changes have been happening within the lodging, hotel and resort locations because of travel restrictions and policy changes to meet safety standards. Having groups of people stay in one place for extended periods of time poses a heightened health risk. Trends for 2021 will largely deal with those concerns as well as emerging tech.
Sanitation and Cleanliness Standards
Cleaning standards were among the first to change when news of COVID-19 was first announced. In order to avoid spreading disease, hospitality venues increased cleaning efforts, especially in lobbies and common areas. While surface sanitation has always been important to maintain customer safety and satisfaction, the pandemic heightened the stakes and drew a lot of attention to company protocol.
Air Circulation and Filtering
A huge change with COVID-19 is in the area of air quality. While air quality has long been a public health issue, COVID-19 caused businesses to get very serious about their filtering and ventilation systems.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published back in 2005 warnings about an increase in pollution, causing indoor air to be more polluted than outdoor air in some cases. Today, the EPA has recommended using HVAC filters and air purifiers to help improve air quality on all fronts—including risks of spreading airborne COVID-19 virus.
Spacing Concerns and Amenities
Many facilities have changed their policies to prevent crowding in dining areas, conference rooms, event spaces and fitness centers. Many hotels have worked to space out guests and encourage as many remote check-ins as possible to reduce lines and crowding in the areas. For example, a number of hotels have changed their dining options to order-in-only to help guests remain separated and within their rooms.
Another solution has been to develop methods for reserving access to different facility amenities, such as signup lists that set time limits for available spaces. Guests may reserve an hour slot in a fitness center or pool to maintain a max guest count well under 50% capacity.
Another option may be found in advanced technology. Digital mirrors could be incorporated at some point to allow guests to do certain workouts in their rooms, like following a yoga routine or stretching guide shown digitally on the glass—similar to the tech being sold to consumers for home use.
Personalized Treatment and Experiences
Using key data metrics in the hotels system can help personalize a guest’s stay and heighten the guest experience. Hotels are already tracking a lot of guest information and can use data to help personalize their suggestions and ads to better fit the needs and habits of their guests.
Mobile Check-In Service
An estimated 64% of millennials booked their hotel rooms with a smartphone in 2019 and that number is only expected to rise. Mobile check-in services are faster and more convenient for the on-the-go crowd who has always enjoyed easy access to technology. These automated processes make the process seamless for a better customer experience and reduces exposure risk for staff and guests.
Smart rooms enable a guest to check-in via mobile phone and access reserved space with a digital key sent through the facility app. Increased technology within the rooms allows guests to control lights, TV, room temp and even the curtains—all from their phones. New tech also means guests can order food from room service or request amenities from the front desk.
Voice Search and Voice Control
Samsung worked with Marriott to create a Guestroom Lab that helped develop more new tech to amplify the guest experience, such as voice controls. Using a virtual assistant, guests vocally order wake-up calls and other hotel services.
Finances Online reported that facilities using new tech were able to reduce guest complaints by 71% and increase customer service ratings by 19%. Since Millennials shifted to make up 50% of all hotel guests in 2020, incorporating new tech is a top priority.
Sustainability and Environmentally Conscious Services
Many hotels and resorts have been trying to get guests out of the habit of expecting daily room cleaning for quite some time now. The pandemic has only reinforced this desire to reduce cleanings during a stay.
Many locations are asking guests to forego room cleaning or eliminating the option altogether until the stay is complete. During that time, the facility is able to save water by avoiding the extra laundry and it is able to keep staff from being unnecessarily exposed to occupied rooms that are still full of guest germs and viruses. This trend allows hotel managers to reduce the strain placed on their working sanitation staff.
Use of Outdoor Spaces
From restaurants to event facilities, many companies are working to use their outdoor spaces as much as possible. With the larger space and flowing air, outdoor venues provide a safer space for group events and entertainment. Some restaurants and bars are setting up specialized table bubbles—especially in places where crowding is a concern or the weather is not ideal for being outside.
Healthy and Organic Food & Drinks
Hotels, restaurants and other hospitality facilities are also moving towards more options for healthy food and drink. From vegetarian and gluten-free options to organic foods, many guests are looking for a wider variety of food and beverage products that fit their personal lifestyle. Though not necessarily expected by the average customer, offering great food and drinks is a key marketing point for hospitality facilities moving into 2021.
Some facilities have even shifted to offering take-out food services to help cover lost revenue from 2020 industry challenges. With online ordering and curbside pickup, shifting to a food provider status has helped some companies survive when others have been forced to close doors.
Hybrid Hotel Concepts
In some areas, hotels are merging with other business models—like vacation apartments, timeshares and restaurants. There have been themed hotels for dolls, historical styles and museums. Some resorts offer spas, watersports or hunting focuses. There are a wide range of options for hotels that want to do more than just offer a good night’s stay. Hybrid concepts in certain countries have also worked to reimagine facility design, exploring the luxury of space and beauty for the visitor.
Authentic Local Experiences
When someone is visiting another city, state or country, they often want to explore a bit during their free time. From good food to events, hotels can partner with authentic local businesses to help connect their guests to the very best points in local tourism.
Beyond acting the role of concierge, hotels can be a part of the events with their figurative finger on the pulse of the city’s action. Hospitality brands can play a crucial role in helping guests take advantage of local entertainment options after a year where hours and operation for many surrounding businesses have not been normal.
The hospitality industry is changing, but revitalization will help agile brands thrive. Are you interested in a career within the hospitality sector? Earn your hospitality degree online from JWU. For more information, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].