The future of hospitality: 2021 and beyond
The pandemic in 2020 affected the hospitality industry severely—as we have never seen before. The effects have been even greater than what we saw in 2001 and 2008. This mega-event has shaken all our assumptions about traveling, managing hotels and dealing with customers and hotel owners, management companies, lenders, banks and team members.
On the other hand, 2021 is looking very promising—as soon the world will be vaccinated. The hospitality industry is all about smiling at the guests and knowing them well; we should not forget it. I am sure that, in 2021, we will smile again at our guests, and they will smile back at us without a mask.
Looking at trends in the industry, we can expect the mega hotel chains to continue growth with their brand variety. Customer suspicion about room cleaning will continue for many years. The mega-chains did great work in publishing their standards and procedures to improve hotel hygiene and cleaning. Of course, all others involved in the industry, from a local hotel chain to mom-and-pop operations, as well as Airbnb accommodations, have improved their cleaning.
This change has propelled the industry forward in that respect, which is great news to all travelers.
It will take some time for capsule hotels and hostels to recover after the pandemic. But human nature is to forget, and people’s nature is to connect. We see a trend of getting out of the main cities for vacation, so villa resorts, glamping and Airbnb outside cities will flourish. Super budget hotels will continue to answer the need for good hotel accommodation in the city centers at an affordable price; boutique and trendy hotels with great F&B concepts also will be in high demand. The mix of business and leisure will be stronger than ever. Accommodation for younger guests (ages 20 to 30 years old) will grow, as will resort types of accommodation for the elderly, who want to mix business and leisure in attractive places. There are so many different segments that developers and hoteliers can go after, making the hotel industry’s future so bright.
It will take some time for international business to return, so local tourism will continue to be important more than ever. Hoteliers should make sure they have a local loyalty program, not only internationally. Furthermore, business people will cut back on traveling as Zoom is now an acceptable avenue to do business. The business hotel should explore how to recover from the
expected drop in business travelers. For example, hotel rooms can be used as day offices, and hotel lobbies can be used as a coworking area. Many hotels have a large lobby with a design that does not properly accommodate businesspeople. Now is the time to change it. Besides, many hotels are still selling seminar packages, which cost a lot of money, while coworking space operators can give working space by the hour. Business hotels need to learn to host coworking spaces as well. Hosting coworking is easy to do with all the different apps available in the marketplace with minimal cost.
PMS and More
The PMS (Property Management System) is one of the key factors that affect the hotel’s function. The PMS dominates the hotel operation, and I have been told that there are more than 4,000 different PMSs in the world. All applications have to contact the different PMSs to be relevant to guests and team members. Now, despite the major advances in technology, hotel operators have to work with too many applications: one for the back of the house operation, one for the concierge services, one to be used as a keyless entry to open the hotel’s doors, one to follow up on the social media reviews, and more.
It is time to have one platform that can manage the hotel inventory, accounting, customer journey (before, during and after), staff member communication and more. All of these functions should be a link to business intelligence that can give the operators one dashboard that lets them know everything about their hotel guests’ profiles to deal with service, delivery and maintenance.
Climate Change and Green Solutions
As hoteliers, we have to look at new technology to become greener. We need to harness solar power, save energy, reuse the hotel gray water, save heat, improve air circulation, use more efficient lighting and utilize environmentally friendly materials.
From my experience in coworking spaces, customers are looking for flexibility. As hoteliers, we need to change the way we think and be more flexible with our operations, hotel public space and room construction. Flexibility should extend even to the point that room configurations and sizes could be changed easily per guests’ needs.
Finally, as hotel operators, we are at risk that anything can happen. We have a great responsibility for all our stakeholders’ safety, from the owner and team members to the guests. Recently, I have seen cyber attacks on different companies, and it is cause for concern. The hotel industry has to work together to protect guest information and the hotel operation, as we are becoming more and more dependent on technology.