Features Calendar 2021
Despite the overwhelming adversity the hospitality industry faced in 2020, there is reason to hope for a significant rebound in 2021. The promise of vaccines and robust consumer demand should be major factors in leading the way, but hotels will have to adapt to the conditions of the New Normal to ensure the health, safety and comfort of their guests and staff. At the forefront of these strategies are hotel apps. A mobile app is an essential technology at every phase of the guest experience - pre-arrival, arrival, in-room, food & beverage, amenities and departure. The goal is to make guest interactions as touch-free as possible and the app can be used to facilitate communication, reduce physical touch points, provide social distancing measures, and implement safety regulations. The app can also be used to track employee movements for exposure tracing purposes. The January Hotel Business Review will report on how some hotels are using mobile apps to offer guests and employees a superior experience and a sense of safety and protection
By all accounts, hotels can expect to welcome back more guests in 2021. But it is necessary to have a strategic communications plan in place - including an effective social media strategy - that will rebuild brand awareness, promote guest engagement, and maximize recovery efforts. And for the foreseeable future, hotels will also be compelled to use their social media channels to communicate the actions they are taking to protect the safety of their guests. In that regard, accuracy and transparency are paramount. Hoteliers must be certain that what they are posting about cleanliness, contactless service, cancelation policies, etc. are accurate and true, and consistently communicated across all social media channels. To that end, some hotels are featuring employees in videos of their behind-the-scenes, day-to-day activities, demonstrating the safety measures they are practicing. The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate safety concerns in their social media strategies.
The immense devastation suffered in the hotel industry last year has compounded a problem that human resource professionals will face once the market starts to recover in 2021 - a pending labor shortage. Though some hotels have done their best to retain employees or to ease the suffering caused by mass furloughs, staff reduction was inevitable and many of those employees may not be available to return when guest traffic picks up. Consequently, hotels will once again be competing to find and retain qualified talent to staff their operations. Naturally, companies will have to review their wage and benefits packages in order to remain competitive. They might also wholeheartedly embrace the work-from-home trend for some corporate positions. In addition, human resource professionals will also have to definitively convince frontline employees that their hotels are safe to work in. The March Hotel Business Review will explore what some HR professionals are doing to address these and other employment issues in their respective departments.
Though expectations are that hotels will return to some semblance of normalcy in 2021, their highest priority must continue to be the health and safety of guests and employees. To that end, hotels are training their guest service personnel in enhanced cleaning routines, which include the following practices - bathrooms, elevator buttons, remote controls and other high-touch items, are disinfected and cleaned with a higher frequency; all tables, chairs and menus in restaurants are cleaned at a much higher frequency, and after each seating; floor markers in public areas to remind guests and team members to maintain physical distance; hand alcohol stations and disposable gloves in lobbies and restaurants; loose items such as pens, note pads and information material removed from rooms and meeting rooms; limiting the number of seats in restaurants and public areas; and revised food & beverage offerings. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will review how guest service personnel are being trained to maintain health and safety protocols in their operations.
One theory about the pandemic states that future viruses are more likely to originate and flourish due to global warming. If true, the urgency to accelerate the adoption of eco-friendly practices is greater than ever. Of course, there are many other reasons to create a sustainable operation, including reduced utility costs, savings on operational costs, healthier and happier guests and employees, and positive publicity, marketing and community goodwill. Many hotels are introducing innovative programs into their operations - from recycling bins in guest rooms to starting a roof top garden. Other hotels are using eco-friendly cleaning products, reusing towels and sheets, sourcing locally grown food, supporting the use of electric vehicles, and permitting guests to refill their reusable water bottles with clean, filtered water. Finally, some hotels are encouraging guests to get involved by making it possible for them to participate in local community clean-up projects. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.
During an economic downturn, it is tempting to slash marketing budgets to make up for lost revenue. But smart hoteliers play the long game, knowing that companies who stay engaged with their customers will be the first to benefit from a rebound. Therefore, now is the time to renew and revamp sales and marketing strategies in order to be ready for what lies ahead. For example, this is a perfect time to refresh website content, social media and SEO. The same for hotel blogs where content can be updated to give customers inspirational ideas as they begin to travel and meet again. Multimedia assets should also be revised with new photo/video shoots that provide accurate information about how setups, room configurations, and onsite offerings have changed to accommodate safer meetings and social distancing. The June Hotel Business Review will focus on the sales and marketing strategies that some hotels are adopting in anticipation of a recovery in 2021.
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