Hospitality 2.0: Recovery of an Industry in a Post-Pandemic World

Future of Industry

As the pandemic hit, the hospitality and tourism industry crumbled. We had looked at its implications earlier. But, with a phoenix-like style, the industry is in the process of recreating itself from its ashes.

What does this newly regenerating industry have in store? Here’s a look.

Hotels and Stays

Emphasis on safety

Despite all their tag-lines, safety and reassurance is what they need to guarantee to get their clientele back. On that front:

  • Large luxury chains are investing millions and partnering with hygiene experts and other businesses in the field of disinfection.
  • Marriott, Hilton, IHG have all done that.
  • Hilton has partnered with RB, the company that makes Lysol and Dettol and is marketing Hilton CleanStay.  Moreover, Hilton has teamed up with the Mayo clinic for medical and safety advice.
  • Marriott has launched a Global Cleanliness Council.
  • The Venetian in Vegas, U.S.A has teamed up with The Cleveland Clinic to make its resort and casino safe for its customers.
  • Countries/ states wherein tourism plays a major role are also entering the fray for quality control.
  • Singapore now has the SG Clean campaign that assesses establishments and awards them with the SG Clean mark, if they pass the test. This certification will definitely convince more people to enter the premises.
  • If you are the kind who favours intimate, smaller stays over the large luxury kinds, you are being covered too. Airbnb now has Enhanced Clean, a program created with the collaboration of former US Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy. Hosts without the Enhanced Clean badge are going to be at a disadvantage.
Adapting to new consumer patterns

Adapt or perish is the order of the day. With the very nature of travel changing, hotels and stays are trying to keep up with the tide.

  • More travel for leisure than for business. Travelling for work is still limited to those areas where it is absolutely unavoidable, especially considering the remote-work economy. However, travel for leisure is the thrust that the industry requires. People are looking for ways to beat the lockdown fatigue. In the U.S.A alone, summer bookings for 2021 is 110% higher than that of 2020.
  • The shift towards short-term rentals. The hospitality industry accrued some goodwill as it opened its doors to be used as isolation centres. That, in itself, has become a marketing strategy. Short-term rentals for work or a stay-cation means lesser guest turnover and, in turn, fewer chances of exposure.
  • With international travel still restricted, targeting local clientele helps with sustenance.
  • Opening up services for locals––individual spa services, gyms or even short-term bookings for work.
  • Teaming up with local businesses––restaurants, fitness centres and such.
  •  Sustainability after cleanliness. The world is becoming increasingly aware of eco-friendly and sustainable ways of travel. With the impacts of climate change becoming more prevalent, there is a demand for the industry to go green. This shift will also help hotels sustain, in the long run.
  • Minimal menus to reduce high food inventories and costs. Large breakfast buffets are, unfortunately, a thing of the past.

Travel, Tourism and Restaurants

  • A resilient travel industry is the order of the day, considering the number of variables involved: WHO guidelines, government policy, market behaviour and safety protocols. But with increased vaccinations and lockdown relaxations, the travel industry is beginning to recover.
  • Tourism, at the moment is limited to familiar places of comfort and stay-cations. It gives the public a way to cope with lockdown fatigue, while minimising risks. As with the hotel industry, emphasis on safety will kick tourism back in its gear.
  • While some of them have been serving on government funding and interest-free loans, they will have to sustain themselves in the long run.
  • Small, independent restaurants have also taken a massive hit.
  • The U.S based National Restaurant Association has observed that 83% of adults are not eating out as often as they would like.
  • Most of them are switching to take-away/ delivery only models to save operational costs.
  • Small kitchens are also adapting themselves to provide for larger orders and cater to small-scale events.

Digital Nativity

The most significant stepping stone that will help the industry migrate into version 2.0 is digital nativity. Like with most other industries technological advancements, especially involving Ai and touch-less tech, is being integrated into the core of hospitality industry to provide safer spaces. OYO founder, Ritesh Agarwal predicts new ways of travel that will shift from human-touch to no-touch.

  • No-contact, touch-less tech in receptions, room service and restaurants.
  • Virtual room-keys/ remote controls/ switches that guests can access through their devices
  • Thermal devices for unobtrusive temperature checks
  • Self-service assisted by digitisation
  • Digital payments
  • Robot-assisted sanitising, housekeeping and kitchen assistance to increase safety
  • Increased automation with food and beverages, starting from digitised pantry carts till automated billing.
  • Importance of digital marketing
  • Online travel agencies and review platforms have never been more important
  • Creating an online presence on social media and individual websites will reassure guests
  •  Virtual views of the public areas and sanitisation protocols on websites
  • Emphasis on guest comfort and safety
  • In India, tech players in the industry (Airbnb, OYO, EaseyTrip and others) are launching CHATT (Confederation of Hospitality, Technology and Tourism Industry) to support smaller domestic players in the shift towards digitisation.

Hospitality education

Transformation in the industry will have to trickle down into the education system as well. These paradigm shifts also means newer career opportunities are being generated. How does this translate for you?

  • It is no longer a human-only field. Integration of technological courses into conventional curricula is the need of the hour.
  • From your end, up-skill yourself from an interdisciplinary way: a combination of technical expertise along with the required soft skills to navigate the hospitality industry.
  • Cleaning and sanitation as core topics.
  •  Building adaptability, critical thinking and leadership skills to weather the storm.
  • Sustainability protocols to conserve local ecosystems
  • Including data analysis and research to predict consumer behaviour, travel patterns, financial sustainability, food consumption and so forth.

The bottomline is that the pandemic has not uprooted the hospitality sector entirely. As the industry reshapes itself, newer opportunities are expected.

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