The 5-Star Experience in the Age of COVID-19
The 5-star hotel experience in the age of COVID-19 could look very different from what both guests and hoteliers are used to. Sometimes referred to as the “new normal,” hoteliers need to be ready to evolve and adapt their hotel stay experience and set the right expectations as travelers return back to our hotel’s front desk. So what does “new normal” hotel experience look like, and how can we effectively set the right expectations for travelers?
Your Hotel Lobby Before COVID-19
This is an illustration of what your lobby might have looked like on a busy holiday weekend pre-COVID-19. For a traveler then, this scene might have been described as crowded and busy. For a traveler in today’s climate, this scene is considered unsafe and potentially dangerous. WIthout setting new expectations of what travelers will see upon arrival to your property, this scene might be what travelers are imagining in their heads.
Your Hotel Lobby After COVID-19
Hotels have worked hard to make necessary changes to ensure the safety of both travelers and their staff. It’s time to showcase it. Social media is the perfect channel in order to do so. We help create social media posts that highlight all the changes that have been implemented at the property. Even the smallest details can be captured and shared, transforming a traveler’s expectations as they consider booking with your property. The more you post and share what this “new normal” looks like at your hotel the more the traveler’s comfort level increases and their willingness to book.
Another clue to what that “new normal” hotel experience could look like can be found in a recent interview I conducted with Jan Freitag, Senior VP of Lodging Insights at STR on Travel Media Group’s Hotel Digital Marketing podcast, The Suite Spot.
I asked Jan, “Do you see any parts of the hotel experience become part of the “new normal” as travelers start to arrive?”
Jan responded, “It’s going to go from high-touch to hi-tech.”
Where the 5-star hotel experience pre-COVID-19 might have focused on high touch, customer service-oriented interaction, post-COVID-19 hotels will have to rely on technology for guests to feel safe and comfortable. Calling the front desk via the in-room phone and receiving requests for extra pillows hand-delivered by the staff could be replaced by social media messaging and leaving the items in an unopened, sanitized container outside the guest’s room. The adoption of keyless entry will increase, limiting the amount of face to face interaction that you get with the hotel’s front desk.
COVID-19 Review Content and Online Feedback
With the overall hotel experience changing, so will the online content and feedback on your hotel’s review sites. So what might the 5-star hotel experience sound like online post COVID-19? These reviews could include elements like:
- “There was plenty of hand sanitizer at the property”
- “Although the lobby was crowded, the staff made sure guests kept their distance and there was plenty of room for us to check out safely”
- “The property provided a “breakfast on the go” to avoid close interaction with other guests and staff”
Online reviews are one of the most powerful ways of setting expectations for future travelers. As we get further and further into recovery from this pandemic, it will be the hotels that set the right expectations for their “new normal” hotel experience that will be in the best position to capture travelers moving forward.