An unforgettable year of great uncertainty remains behind us. A year that showed where the shortcomings are in business and which enabled us to dedicate ourselves in more detail to the improvement of business processes.
The hotel and travel industry has suffered a major blow, especially in coastal and large cities. The way people live, work, move and travel will probably never be the same again. Which doesn’t have to be a bad thing in the long run! In 2021, we hope for successful immunization and the beginning of a recovery in the hotel industry, as well as an increased number of foreign tourists.
Changes in consumer (guest) behavior
From how the trip is organized, to the choice of locations, through the conditions of reservation and the method of payment, the procedures change significantly and rapidly.
This year, we expect guests to adhere to trips to locations they can enter and return to their place with minimal restrictions. Thus, local and regional tourism will continue to occupy a significant percentage of the total number of overnight stays.
Due to the great uncertainty and negative experience with booking channels and refunds last year, guests will be less likely to opt for accommodations where there are advance payments and booking deposits. What guests will be willing to pay extra for is certainly flexibility, ie the possibility that in case of unforeseen circumstances they can change their travel dates.
Booking channels such as Booking, Airbnb, and Expedia lost a lot of trusts last year and this year we expect guests to turn to the possibilities of direct booking on the hotel or accommodation website. For this reason, we believe that a hotel or private accommodation in 2021 must have a Booking engine system that is modern, fast, and easy to use.
Recovery starts in the second half of the year
We can already notice announcements from certain countries about the easing of measures, travel conditions, as well as about the immunization status of certain countries. The possibility of access to this information gives us additional confidence that all countries are working together to return tourism to a completely stable path as soon as possible.
Certainly, a process awaits us in which we will all have to play our part and help the crisis to be overcome as soon as possible and to enable guests to move as easily as possible.
Not every type of international travel will recover at the same pace. We expect that vacations and individual trips, or in pairs, will be the first to recover, for which we are already seeing a trend in Asian countries. After that, we expect a recovery from family travel and finally business travel, as the most rigorous type of travel.
What you can do?
Review your procedures and cleanliness standards. Emphasize on your website and in other brochures that are available to guests, how you fight against the spread of not only coronavirus but also other viruses and bacteria.
If you make sure you have standardized cleaning procedures and inform guests about them in time, together we can help the health system and instill additional confidence in future guests.
Modernize your hotel/accommodation management. In the years of limited movement, we have noticed that the reception systems that are installed on the computer itself, for managing reservations and sales, are an additional burden. Cloud-based technology offers new features, booking reviews, price management, and invoicing on the go.
Like most hoteliers and hosts, you have probably already made significant changes to your distribution strategy. Although air travel and long-distance travel are still dormant, domestic passengers are ready for vacations.
Consider partnering with local businesses or advertising through local channels such as radio stations, newspapers, and associations to attract guests closer to home.
Although optimism is slowly returning to the market, we cannot lower the city yet. Ahead of us is a year of struggle for recovery and we must be ready to react quickly, to plan in the short term and to change plans in the process. If she taught us anything in 2020, it is that we must always be ready.