By Stephanie Quilligan
While would-be travelers have sheltered at home, hotels and resorts have been putting protocols in place to keep guests safe when travel resumes. Now that doors are starting to open, what other factors will determine where travelers choose to stay?
A greater emphasis on healthy living, open air and personal space, brought about by COVID-19 concerns, will influence travel decisions going forward. And while certain hotels and resorts will have a natural advantage in this area, there are easy-to-implement changes any property can make to enhance their appeal to post-pandemic travelers. Here are four:
Fitness on the road
Because gyms and fitness centers are high-touch spaces, it’s likely we will see a significant decrease in their use, particularly at hotels. At the same time, the rapid success of virtual gym classes and the numbers of people who have turned to wellness while quarantined at home offer a clear sign that as guests return, hoteliers will need to facilitate their ability to comfortably workout on the road. Providing in-room equipment like yoga mats and dumbbells, removing unnecessary furniture from rooms to create more space for exercise, offering virtual classes or partnering with a local personal trainer for one-on-one sessions are among the ways hotels can show their commitment to the wellbeing of guests.
Healthier Food Options
Maintaining a robust immune system will be top priority for guests as they resume traveling. Hoteliers can support their efforts by adding fresh juices, smoothies and other wholesome options to breakfast menus, including healthier food and drink options in minibars, or partnering with a local purveyor to provide organic, farm-to-table meals. Consider offering a meal plan option for guests who are hesitant to venture out to potentially crowded restaurants.
For hoteliers, creating robust opportunities for guests to spend more time in the open air will distinguish their brand from the competition and capitalize on an expected increased demand for outdoor activities in the months and years to come. Hotels in urban settings could offer bikes to borrow along with suggested biking and walking routes to explore the city, or partner with a local walking tour guide. Resorts with expansive grounds might consider stocking up on lawn games as well as bikes, fishing gear and other equipment –or offer them through a partnership with a local outfitter—to help guests take advantage of any nearby natural assets.
Prioritizing Personal Space
Guests emerging from the pandemic will likely be more conscious of maintaining personal space, which will impact their travel habits, and brands that can help them do so will reap the rewards. Hotels and resorts need to think creatively about how they can provide a more self-contained environment for guests—particularly if their facilities weren’t built with that in mind. One possibility: create packages that offer extended families and other groups traveling together the option to buy out a floor or the entire property. Another: consider adjusting guest furnishings and amenities to make in-room time more inviting and comfortable. Can you reconfigure room space to add a small kitchenette and dining area that would allow guests to prepare some meals themselves? Or if not, at least a microwave oven and space in the minibar for them to store their own food and drink? How about bath oils or bubble bath to invite a leisurely soak versus a quick shower? Even small changes can increase guests’ comfort level and help your brand stand apart as the world begins to travel again.