Today, SevenRooms released their latest in-depth report, Beyond the Booking: Meeting & Exceeding Hotel Guest Expectations.
SevenRooms, a data-driven guest experience platform, conducted a survey of 1,361 individuals at the end of July in partnership with YouGov.
The travel and lodging sector, as with the restaurant and bar and so many other industries, has suffered since the Covid-19 pandemic devastated global economies.
Just like their restaurant and bar counterparts, hotel operators have found themselves forcing to pivot. The massive shift in hospitality continues to introduce a host of challenges, driven in large part by shifts in guest expectations and concerns.
First and foremost among those considering hotel stays: health and safety.
According to Beyond the Booking data, 34 percent of the Americans surveyed for the report are more likely to book reservations at hotels operating at reduced guest capacity.
Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Americans would end a stay—possibly never to return—if they felt the hotel was too crowded and failed to enforce social distancing protocols.
The same percentage said that hotel staff members and servers not being required to wear masks would also be a dealbreaker. Hotel staff and servers looking or sounding sick (67 percent), hotel guests looking or sounding sick (58 percent), and no requirement for hotel guests to wear masks (55 percent) would also cause a guest to end their stay.
Reduced capacity equals reduced revenue. However, meeting—and exceeding—guest expectations can strengthen loyalty and set up profitable long-term relationships for the future.
Many industries have had to invest in PPE and consumer-facing technologies and monitoring equipment. Marketing efforts must also be adjusted to better engage with today’s guests.
These measures extend to the lodging industry, and they play a crucial role in bookings.
The SevenRooms report indicates that contactless tech, health screenings conducted upon a guest’s arrival, and pre-arrival messages about a hotel’s health and safety protocols are must-haves. Without such measures in place, guests will book stays elsewhere.
Other messaging is also crucial to navigating the new era of hospitality. A quarter of people who select a hotel based upon F&B incentives and other amenities would book another stay at that property if they received a personalized offer to do so.
Building on the importance of F&B incentives, more than a third of Americans (34 percent) say they would be swayed by loyalty rewards related to a specific hotel’s restaurants and bars.
Nobody has a crystal ball—we can’t predict what the future holds. In some ways we can’t yet know fully, the travel and lodging industry will never be the same. That can also be said of the restaurant and bar industry.
The industries converge in many hotels across the United States. Hotel operators must not only comply with mandates governing room capacity restrictions, they also have dining room capacity limitations with which to contend.
Operators whose room capacities haven’t been limited by governing bodies are, as the data show, facing the challenge of embracing such restrictions to meet guest health and safety concerns. They must also be cognizant of restaurant and bar capacities in order to make hotel guests feel safe and comfortable.
It’s possible that food and beverage programming can present a viable path forward for hotel operations. Today’s SevenRooms report shows F&B and other amenities have a role to play in the new hospitality era.
The good news is this: Americans still have the desire to book hotels for reasons other than work.
Survey respondents said that they’re likely to book a hotel stay for a vacation or trip out of town (36 percent); to celebrate a life event (25 percent); or a staycation (21 percent). Just 21 percent would plan to book a hotel for a business trip.
For those unsure about where to stay, F&B and entertainment deals can influence their decisions. Twenty percent of Americans would book a hotel that offered them a deal or a promotion related to hotel dining or entertainment.
In fact, F&B incentives in general are informing today’s hotel decisions. While the numbers have dropped some when compared to pre-pandemic 2019, F&B is still on guests’ minds.
Just over a third of Americans (34 percent) say that complimentary breakfast is top of mind when they consider a hotel’s dining options. A complimentary drink or meal upon arrival influences 46 percent of those comparing hotels. A quarter of Americans rank multiple dining options at one hotel as their top F&B consideration. Nearly 60 percent (59 percent) are interested in making hotel restaurant reservations before their stay—they want to make a reservation before their arrival. More than one-fifth (22 percent) are looking to sit at the hotel bar and make the ability to do so a priority when choosing where to stay.
The ability to make reservations for other amenities also influences how Americans choose hotel stays. When it comes to wellness and relaxation, 42 percent want to be able to lounge at the hotel pool, and 36 percent want to actually be permitted to swim in it; 37 percent are interested in visiting the spa or sauna; and using the gym and fitness equipment is important to 28 percent of American hotel guests.
The next datapoint doesn’t pertain to every hotel but is no less important. In areas where doing so is legal, 18 percent of Americans want to be able to gamble at gaming tables.
Hotel operators are facing several challenges, from beating out competitors for bookings to meeting guest health and safety concerns, along with building long-term loyalty and earning repeat bookings. The data in the latest SevenRooms report can help operators put the right foot forward and march toward success in the near future.
I’ve been studying and writing about the hospitality industry since 2006. Like so many people, I started my journey in this business by working as a host, server and bartender. I was introduced to nightlife in Chicago, learning the ins and outs of nightclubs and after-hours hot spots.
After moving to Las Vegas nearly 20 years ago, I both co-owned a valet company and helped promote the club it serviced. That led to me taking on the role of editor for a Las Vegas hospitality industry publication.
A few short years later, I continued along my journey of hospitality industry reporting. I went from contributing to a major industry outlet to taking on the role of editor and content curator.