Even with the disastrous year that was 2020 behind us, the hotel industry continued to suffer from a series of recovery-stalling factors that were felt all the way through much of 2021. From survey after survey indicating that guests were all but willing to risk their health by staying at a hotel and as industry events such as tradeshows were either cancelled or unsuccessfully held online, hoteliers throughout the industry found themselves with little guidance on how to best preserve the wellbeing of their hotel business.
Fast-forward to the final quarter of 2021 and things are finally beginning to look up for industry markets around the globe. Alongside news of improved booking performance are also recurring examples that both guests and industry professionals are ready to move beyond the pandemic and return to a greater sense of normality.
Getting Back on Track With Industry Events
For decades, hoteliers have relied on an array of global or regional conferences and tradeshows to maintain an active pulse on the industry’s latest trends and expectations. However, to minimize the spread of COVID-19 the vast majority of anticipated 2020 events were ultimately shuttered, which while necessary to protect the safety of attendees, did also result in missed opportunities to educate and share best practices on the biggest challenge that the industry has ever faced.
With the end of 2021 now in sight and thanks to the wide availability of vaccines, the return of physically held events has now become a welcome reality. In just the last month, industry professionals were once again able to meet face-to-face at The Lodging Conference in Arizona while the industry’s most anticipated technology event, HITEC, went ahead as planned in Dallas, Texas. Other notable events to take place physically also include the Global Gaming Expo (G2E), HSMAI ROC Americas and the Americas Lodging Investment Summit, with many more just around the corner in 2022.
Aside from serving as a much needed source of positivity for a battered hospitality industry, the events also proved highly valuable in plotting the next steps for continued market improvement. At HITEC Dallas for example, hoteliers were provided the vital ability to actually see and interact first-hand with the newest technologies created specifically to overcome the industry’s current issues. From contactless digital key platforms and chatbots to solutions tailored towards the growing trend of experience personalization, this year’s HITEC if anything demonstrated that the industry is not lacking in innovation when it comes to attempting to rebuild guest confidence and hotel business revenues. Yet just as important as seeing the showcasing of new solutions was the opportunity for attendees to hear from providers themselves on how such platforms can integrate with existing infrastructure to provide the seamless, safe and convenient experiences promised. They significantly could learn about actual-use case scenarios to determine if adoption of a specific solution is suited to their unique property and guest needs.
One noteworthy trend that has understandably become a focus of recent industry events is the need to effectively tackle hospitality’s ongoing labor shortage. Yet here as well, event attendees could look to industry providers to discover new ways of managing their operations that can guarantee enhanced efficiency and service quality regardless of workforce size. Many HITEC attendees for instance, found it crucial that some of the industry’s leading staff safety platforms can also utilize the same location-based technology to monitor the real-time whereabouts of hotel assets. With overstretched employees struggling to keep pace with the ever-growing list of responsibilities, solutions such as real-time asset management are demonstrating their worth at tradeshows thanks to the precious time that employees can win back otherwise needlessly spent searching for misplaced items.
Industry Professional Positivity Aligns With Growing Guest Confidence
While professionals throughout the industry are ready to move on from the lackluster performance of previous months and are now more informed than ever on the technologies that will drive recovery, what will ultimately count is the perceptions of guests themselves. Yet as the industry moves closer towards normalcy with the resumption of physical events, guest views are likewise changing for the better.
Recent survey results by the AAA for instance reveal that at least 55 percent of Americans are now planning a trip involving an overnight stay during the next several months. Across the Atlantic, a co-funded EU report recently found that almost 70 percent of Europeans are now planning to take trips by the end of January 2022, while only 17 percent expressed a continued unwillingness to travel. Demonstrating the rising confidence of travelers even further is a survey conducted by TravelPulse, with findings revealing that 83 percent of parents are planning a multi-day family vacation over the next 12 months.
Yet while more and more consumers begin to regain their sense of trust in the travel and hotel industries, they nonetheless continue to expect the adapting of services and operations in order to minimize any risks to themselves and their family members. In a recent study published by Hospitality Technology, 71 percent of guest respondents claimed that it is still important for hotels to provide confirmation on when a room was last cleaned. 65 percent of respondents further stated that it remains essential for hotels to clearly communicate details on how they are working to limit germ exposure, while 58 percent also indicated that the presence of touchless hand sanitizer stations continues to be extremely important.
While the industry undoubtedly still has some road ahead before returning to the way performance stood before COVID-19, current and future prospects have nonetheless improved significantly compared to where things stood just one year ago. With travelers now increasingly yearning to experience new sights and locations, hoteliers need only ensure that their operations continue to live up to their expectations for enhanced safety. Judging by the array of new technologies showcased at now resumed tradeshows and the enthusiasm of attendees to learn about solutions that can meet rising health safety standards, the industry certainly appears to be headed in the right direction.