This summer, guest experience is still king

After raising the bar when it comes to guest experience during the COVID-19 pandemic, the accommodation industry is now faced with a new challenge: raising that bar even higher.

Late into 2020, many players in the accommodation industry had been attempting to gradually reopen their establishments and welcome guests back. This came after a long period of lockdowns, border closures, and flight cancellations since the start of the pandemic. Despite the heightened travel restrictions in place during that time, many hotels and bed-and-breakfasts tried desperately to adhere to their governments’ shifting mandates on how their businesses should operate. This gave way to the rise of many new travel trends during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

For one, accommodation establishments embraced the rising popularity of domestic tourism and “staycations,” given the many limitations on international travel, and hosted promos and discounts that encouraged extended vacations, which was believed to have been caused by people’s desire to fight “quarantine fatigue.” With the shift to remote work, most people found themselves not needing to rush back home. This allowed hoteliers to find opportunities to remain relevant.

The accommodation industry embraced new travel trends during the COVID-19 pandemic to stay relevant, such as domestic tourism, “staycations,” and extended travels, among others.

However, as the world slowly enters yet another new normal, where people from across the globe are being asked to return to the office, where does that leave accommodation establishments? Now that the opportunities for staycations and extended travels are upending, what new ways should they leverage for their guests to come back?

According to a report by travel and tourism market research firm Destination Analysts, accommodation establishments need not worry: American travel sentiment has soared to levels not seen since the height of the summer 2021 vaccine rollout in the US. In fact, 81.5% are in a ready-to-travel state of mind, “among the highest levels it has ever been in the pandemic era,” according to the firm. Nearly 77% of respondents also said they were eager and excited to travel in the next 12 months, including internationally.

The same report also showed that more than three-quarters of respondents have dreamt of and planned to travel recently.

A January 2022 report showed that 81.5% of Americans are now in a ready-to-travel state of mind. Is the accommodation industry ready?

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a really hard time for many of us. Some of us have lost friends and family because of the pandemic, while many of us have become very fatigued from being at home for such a long period of time. If anything, the pandemic probably created a bigger demand for travel; people are actively trying to avoid getting stuck in one place.

At this point, what accommodation establishments need to do is embrace newer and emerging travel trends given more recent developments with how the pandemic is managed globally. Such trends include vaccination and booster programs, employers’ return-to-office mandates, and border reopenings in many countries.

How to elevate guest experience this summer

Amid developing travel trends, one thing remains the same: guest experience is still king. Hoteliers can adapt to new travel trends by keeping in mind the new demands of travelers, such as:

  1. Personal Development. Many people acknowledge that the past couple of years has been rough. In effect, they are seeing the importance of self-care and self-improvement. As travelers pack their bags and go on their much-awaited and much-deserved vacations, they also seek personal development activities whether in the form of meditation and yoga or counseling and retreats. Accommodation establishments that can offer such services will add value to their business.
  1. Outdoor Activities. People have been cooped up for so long that the last thing they want on vacation is to be locked up again indoors. Accommodation establishments, especially those that are situated in nature hotspots, can leverage this tourist behavior by offering outdoor activities such as bike tours, mountain treks, and diving lessons, among others.
  1. Workations. While many employers are requiring their employees to return to the office, many have also promised their employees that they could continue with their W@H setup. This is why countries like Barbados, Anguilla, Dominica, Mauritius, and Bermuda have launched visas for longer-term stays to encourage working digital nomads to spend their productive vacations in paradise.
  1. Sustainable Travels. As international travelers become more aware of the climate crisis, they expect accommodation establishments to offer eco-friendly travel options. It is high time for players in the accommodation sector to implement sustainability goals and initiatives to entice environment-conscious travelers. This could be as simple as discarding plastic straws and utensils to imposing a more sustainable waste management system.
  1. Family Getaways. After two years of celebrating birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries at home, people have been wanting to bring their families with them on vacations, road trips, or getaways. With higher vaccination rates in the US and beyond, people would want to spend their next special occasions away from home. Hoteliers must adapt to this trend by adding more and bigger family rooms, childcare services, and children’s pools in their amenities. 
  1. An Improved Online Booking. Online travel apps have also elevated their features. One of them, for example, has categorized the accommodations in their listings into curated collections such as “Amazing Views,” “Beach,” and “Historical homes” for easier browsing. Also, as more people are taking longer trips than ever before, the same travel app has recently introduced a new feature that splits a trip between two different homes, giving the guest an average of 40% more listings when searching for longer stays.

As summer draws near, accommodation players must brace themselves for the anticipated deluge of bookings for home-sharing and vacation rentals, as well as tours and activities.

Owners and managers of accommodation establishments must keep in mind that many of these travelers have been home for so long and that this will probably be their first time going out again for a vacation; they deserve nothing but the best guest experience possible.

At this point, it helps to brace arms with digital experts that could improve guests’ experiences–from finding accommodations to reserving or booking tours and tickets.

TaskUs, for one, serves the connected traveler wherever they are in their journey. From intelligent chatbots to machine learning platforms, and everything in between, we ensure that the authentic human factor trims costs and produces interactions that create lasting value.

What the travel industry does today will set a precedent for the next travel trends, so it is crucial to do it right. For the players in the hospitality sector, it is a must to give guests nothing but a pleasurable and remarkable experience–to let them feel that it is now safe to travel. It is only by providing a great guest experience that travelers will be enticed to finally pull out their dusted travel bags and book their much-awaited flights once again.