Amadeus EVP, Client Engagement, Hospitality Paul Barron sets out to adapt during a boom time for the domestic sector
For many of us, jetting off on a long-haul holiday is unlikely while restrictions on international travel remain following COVID-19. However, demand for domestic travel is soaring as travellers look for close-to-home, lower risk holiday options. In fact, recent data has shown a 62.8% increase in net reservations since the reopening announcement in the UK. To capitalise on this, hoteliers must plan for recovery to drive profitable demand and retain guest loyalty in this changing market.
The Staycation Renaissance
Restrictions on travel means that staycations are set for a boom. Consumers in the UK booked domestic trips every 11 seconds following the announcement of lockdown lifting. Our own data shows that in July, the UK was by far the most popular destination for British travellers with 58,946 website bookings compared to just 4,625 for the U.S, the second most popular destination.
This behaviour reflects the outcome of a recent Amadeus survey of HSMAI hospitality executives, in which 33% of those polled believe that leisure travel closer to home will become much more prevalent as a result of the pandemic. In response to this shift, 76% of respondents are planning to prospect new audiences to make up for impacted revenue from the usual business travellers. With passport-free holidays becoming increasingly normal, identifying these shifting demands and leveraging this momentum is crucial for the hospitality industry to capitalise on.
What does this mean for hoteliers?
Hotels will have to make key operational changes to survive in a COVID-19 world. Firstly, hoteliers need to be agile to provide guests an offering that is safe, flexible, and exciting. To do this, use of business intelligence, media and technology is vital to stand out against competition. The foundation of a solid recovery plan is making data driven decisions to plan for competitive rates, marketing, and distribution strategies. Historical trends won’t be useful for hoteliers given the seismic industry shift resulting from COVID-19. As such, hoteliers will need to be forward-looking and tailor their recovery approach to cater to new traveller segments (such as the domestic traveller), shorter booking windows, and new channels to source bookings.
Secondly, COVID-19 has made cleaning more important than ever and it is a non-negotiable essential that hotels deep clean and sanitise high-touch areas, and provide essentials such as hand sanitiser throughout the premises. Scrupulous cleaning and disinfecting processes and procedures will be vital to execute the cleanliness standards that the new “Generation Clean” guest – a singular segment that blurs the lines between Baby Boomers, Millennials and Gen X travellers with elevated cleanliness standards – will expect.
Thirdly, if your customer base has shifted from international travellers to those seeking holidays closer to home, you will need to employ new marketing strategies which are relevant and targeted to your evolving customer base. These customers will want updates on the necessary steps you have and are taking at every phase of recovery to ensure traveller safety and inspire their confidence to book your property.
Once hoteliers have demonstrated that they have and are continuing to address the top concerns of travellers, hoteliers can turn their attention to meeting traveller expectations by offering personalised, authentic, and sustainable journeys and experiences to give themselves a competitive edge.
Looking to the future
Although traveller behaviours such as domestic travel are likely to be impacted in the long term and altered habits could pave the way for a new normal in the travel industry, the hospitality industry is resilient and we look forward to the future when we see recovery and the return to global travel. Whilst we hope that this recovery occurs in a directly forward pattern, we should be prepared to account for some setbacks along the way, so we aren’t taken by surprise. As with any challenge, we will find a path forward, learning from the challenges we have and continue to face, adjusting as we go to find a better solution in the future.
For best practices and guidance on how you can build the most effective recovery strategy for your business, please find out more in our e-book series, which are designed to address the needs of hospitality professionals focused on Sales, Marketing, Operations, and Revenue Management.