While the coronavirus pandemic has been devastating to the travel industry as a whole, one of the sectors less affected is the hotels. Don’t get me wrong, they’re suffering too, particularly if their business was dependent on large conventions or mega-tourism sites drawing people from all around the world. For example, the problems at The Palmer House in Chicago.
However, if you have a hotel near the beach, a lake, a park, or even a walkable city, things weren’t that bad. These locations were showing 50%+ occupancy rates in May and I’m sure those numbers went even higher over the summer.
In order to make guests feel comfortable about staying at a hotel, all of the chains put new protocols in place for their properties to follow. As expected, compliance with these rules is spotty. If a hotel wasn’t run well before coronavirus, it’s not suddenly going to start doing everything to the letter now.
Here are some changes that I hope will stay around long after we get the case numbers down and life goes back to a semblance of what it was.
Can we all agree that the enhanced cleaning protocols that hotels have put into place are really just the things we’ve wanted them to do all the time? Telling me that sanitizing surfaces in the room between guests is something new doesn’t give me much confidence in what you were doing before this. In addition, cleaning up high-traffic public spaces on a regular basis is something I’d like to see be continued as well.
Don’t Bring Back The MiniBar
While I understand that the minibar is a revenue stream for hotels, there’s no need to bring it back. First of all, you have no idea how long the items have been in the bar. If no one has purchased those mixed nuts for 9 months, are they still good? Were people even checking for the freshness of that can of orange juice?
Now, I know there are people who will say there was a need for the mini-bar if you needed an overpriced soda or water at 4 AM. I’m sure there can be other solutions for purchasing items, like a vending machine on each floor that’s only accessible with your room key. If we brainstorm, I’m sure there’s a solution to this problem without putting a fridge full of overpriced items back into every room.
To-Go Breakfast Items
Instead of offering a breakfast buffet, several hotels have gone to providing bags of to-go breakfast items to guests. While I’m not a fan of preselected morning items, I want to see some form of this practice continue. I’d like to see items that can either be taken back to your room to eat or carried out of the hotel added to the mix.
Fast, Working Wi-Fi
This is something that hotels can’t install overnight but I think it’s going to become more of a necessity in hotels. We’ve become accustomed to working via video-chat and that’s not going to stop. More business travelers are going to be on video meetings while on the road. Everyone is going to want to stream video to their devices. No longer will “meh” free Wi-Fi be tolerated. The same goes for premium Wi-Fi, which still isn’t all that great.
Hotels are saying that one way for guests to have a contactless experience is to go to a virtual key based on their hotel app. I’m not a big fan of this technology. I want to have a hotel key that works all the time. Is it too much to ask to not have to walk back to the front desk because my key cannot open the lock on the door?
Virtual keys add another layer of complexity to the process. What if the app crashes? What if my phone battery is dead? Maybe I dropped my phone while I was out. I don’t want to make the front desk staff become IT specialists just so I can get into my room.
Some of these changes were instituted by hotels right after the pandemic began. Others are still in process of being put into place because of changes in what guests want when staying at a hotel. While some of the changes will surely go away when COVID-19 is not a worry anymore, other changes might and should stay around. Cleaner hotels, faster Wi-Fi, and more breakfast choices are all things that every guest can support. It actually would be a great basis for an ad campaign down the road.
#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands #wearamask
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary