With the US recently joining a growing number of destinations which have reopened borders to fully vaccinated travellers, a rising vaccination global rate and lower Covid-19 caseloads, travellers are looking to fly — but is the hospitality industry ready?
According to a commentary by hotel management software brand Hotelogix, studies indicate travel to be the second-most-desired activity that respondents wish to indulge in once the pandemic subsides, especially those who have not been affected economically by the pandemic.
However, even as governments manage infected caseloads and vaccination rates, the hospitality industry should ready itself for an imminent travel spike "to take advantage of the valuable opportunities that are bound to arise [as the pandemic recedes]".
Here are four ways to start preparations.
1. Rebuild capacity
The pandemic reduced the scope in several hospitality domains, including many in the travel and hospitality industry losing their jobs or switching to other industries. This means the travel supply chain risks a situation of lack of trained manpower to handle the expected travel rebound.
A similar scene can be noticed in the capacity levels of the global aviation sector, as many aircraft remain in storage and staff suffers due to lay-offs. While bringing the travel supply engine back to ignition may be a costly affair, keeping it inactive could have far greater repercussions.
2. Invest in digital support systems
With the pandemic, the protocols travellers have to follow at every step would only increase and they would need and expect far more assistance, at each point.
For the hospitality industry, a PMS (property management system) like Hotelogix could work effectively in sharing the load. From contactless check-in facilities that help maintain social distancing and quicken the process, to keeping an accurate record of guest data, including their likes, dislikes and preferences to help hoteliers meet specific demands, a PMS could potentially be a resolution to many customer pain points which can prevent degradation in perception.
3. Revisit pre-established commercial approaches
Last-minute bookings, cancellations, even unannounced visits are all going to be common denominators in travel. With the forecasting model losing its relevancy in a volatile pandemic, the hospitality industry should look at flexible or dynamic pricing models to deal with customer discomfort in the ever-changing travel landscape.
Hotels may have to think of ways to repurpose their existing facilities, such as rooms on rent for government use, and Singapore's example of becoming Stay Home Notice facilities for quarantining of Covid-19 patients. Likewise, travel agents may need to utilise their automobiles as cab facilities to beat any downtime.
4. Know your customers better
Differentiating services or offerings has become more pronounced post-pandemic, and technology can give a hand in knowing, understanding, and then reaching clients with products/services that evoke a genuine interest.
Apart from learning to recognise emerging trends and possible hiccups, hospitality businesses can also use data to personalise experiences for a memorable guest experience.