In order to look ahead in the hotel industry, we have to look at what is happening now.
Although many hotels have temporarily closed their doors during the pandemic, there are still many that remain open. In seeing what open hotels are doing now, maybe it can give us an idea of what hotels might do in the future.)
With so many of us at home itching to get back to work at a hotel or back to our travels, the biggest question on our mind is, what will the new hotel experience be like? While we and the industry figure that out, I think it’s important to see and look at what open hotels are doing now to give us insight on what moving forward might look like.
The Four Seasons NYC Example
So let’s take a look at the Four Seasons New York who has dedicated 125 of its rooms to healthcare workers. They now have almost no touchpoints in the ENTIRE hotel, which is completely against a hotel’s nature of being hands-on, as with the traditional luxury hotel experience.
Check-ins and check-outs are being performed virtually, with no human-to-human contact. Elevator rides are limited to one guest per car, which can make things really slow when one is out of order and maybe even waiting for someone to see Titan Machine, should a part need repairing or replacing. Room service has also been discontinued, hotel restaurants, bars, and complimentary coffee stations are closed indefinitely. Going forward, we could even see the inclusion of informative digital signage from the likes of Platon Graphics that can serve as a way to convey important information to the guests wit minimal human contact. So what are we seeing as some hotels’ new dining options? Pre-made boxed meals.
It’s safe to say that breakfast buffets, communal tables, and traditional spacing in common areas are going go away for some time.
Minimizing Contents of Guest Rooms
Some hotels are also minimizing the contents of guest rooms, so there are fewer opportunities for germs to spread. Things like minibars, excess hangers, extra linens, even extra pillows.
A New Type of Housekeeping?
When it comes to housekeeping, most hotels that are open now are not offering in-room cleaning services during a guest’s stay. Then once a guest checks out, we are seeing some hotels leave rooms vacant for 24 to 48 hours after a guest’s stay. Then after being cleaned, the room is left empty for at least another 24 hours. This works fine now with occupancy levels being so low, but it will be curious how long a hotel can and will maintain these buffer periods. That puts one room out of order for quite some time. Predictably, hotels may also need to hire new managers who are well versed with covid protocols. A manager who is familiar with all of the Covid situations and guidelines can potentially monitor the staff much better. After the hotels reopen, you can either advertise the position on job portals or hire a company like Hospitality Headhunter to find the best-suited candidates.
As for hotel gyms, we will certainly see an uptick in daily cleanings. But we might also start seeing hotels require sign up slots. If it is not minimizing to just one person/room at a time, at least minimizing the number of people in the gym at a time.
Some hotels in Asia doing temperature checks. Of course, this is not a foolproof way of determining id a guest is healthy or not, but it will be interesting to see if hotels will start adopting this in the US and Europe. This likely won’t be a permanent procedure, but it could very easily be part of a temporary normal as we resume traveling again. I could foresee there being some pushback as some might argue it is an invasion of privacy-which is the antithesis to what a hotel was traditionally about.
The New Hotel Experience Like the Apple Store?
All in all, the new hotel experience could look similar to the Apple Store Experience as now more than ever, we will be utilizing technology for a humanless contact experience.
So what are your thoughts? What are you seeing at hotels now? What do you think we can expect moving forward. At this point, there is so much speculation, but now more than ever, we need to have a discussion about the future of the hotel experience.