Renowned jazz musician Duke Ellington once said that “a problem is a chance for you to do your best.” I believe hotels have a massive opportunity to take the upheaval caused by COVID-19 and revolutionize how they do business for future success. This situation isn’t merely something we should endure until it’s over. If we’re smart, we’ll find ways to make good use of it for creating even better guest experiences. Here’s my two cents…
Embrace Technology (Especially Video Conferencing)
There has never been a more obvious time for hotels to welcome the opportunities presented by technology. A great example is HayMax Hotels, which operates four boutique properties in Colorado and Idaho. The chain has used this year to look at what kinds of technology can more efficiently address customer demands. Most recently, the brand introduced door locks that accept digital keys in response to customer requests for touchless security. Arguably the greatest opportunity for brands is virtual meetings and conferences, predicted to remain a staple of business well into 2022. Hybrid experiences - a mixture of in-person attendance and online sessions - is booming as hotels adjust to a temporary new norm. We’re already seeing examples of this across the country. The Mohegan Sun Casino & Resort in Connecticut held a two-day, hybrid event over the summer that was attended by 20 in-person guests and 80 virtual attendees. The Orange County Convention Center also hosted its first exhibition since Covid-19 in late July, attended by 1,405 people in person and 8,225 people online.
Rethink Loyalty Programs
Now is the time to consider new loyalty program structures in order to stay competitive. Hilton, for example, recently retooled its loyalty program after watching many companies allow redemption options to disappear when the pandemic first hit. Perhaps your program removes restrictions on certain redemption options, or maybe you extend the expiration dates on certain rewards to accommodate changing travel needs. Remember that takeout and food delivery are more popular than ever before in today’s times. Perhaps your program could integrate rewards or credits with those types of purchases. Loyalty programs seem ubiquitous, but research shows nearly 60% of guests still don't belong to one. Consider how you can revitalize your loyalty program in a clearly changing era.
Strike While the Iron’s Hot
Hotels have been hit with a year of major adversity, but they can use this situation to innovate and thrive against all odds. As I always say, challenges are the greatest opportunities to grow stronger. Imagine what is on the other side of this struggle with the power of technology and human creativity. I look forward to seeing what the hospitality community comes up with to create even better guest experiences.