Whether you’ve recently re-opened, are still planning your big return, or never really closed to begin with, chances are you’ve been presented with challenges and opportunities you never saw coming. You’re not alone in that.
Hospitality professionals around the world have had to adapt to new standards presented not only by COVID-19 but also by heightened guest expectations. Hotels and resorts are also taking responsibility for restoring consumer confidence in travel. So how does one hotel team meet all of those expectations?
Though you may not be able to make plans by looking to the past, you can take inspiration from other hospitality industry professionals. This week, we talked to three of our partners about their experiences on-property. We talk everything from common guest questions to what they wish they knew before they opened.
Meet the Professionals
Evan Crawford is the Director of Field Marketing Support with Benchmark Resorts and Hotels. Crawford supports the marketing and operations activities of Benchmark properties in several regions including Texas, Florida, and Curacao.
Kristina Greene is the Corporate eCommerce & Marketing Manager at The Grove Resort and Water Park Orlando.
Bob Smith is the Marketing Manager at The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch.
Brittany Farella is the Director of Marketing & Leisure Sales at The Beachcomber Hotel and Grand Plaza Hotel, both of which are located in St. Pete Beach, Florida.
What did you learn during your re-opening?
Crawford: People just want to get out of the house. Customers have been very receptive to our reopening messages, but that hasn’t necessarily translated into reservations at all properties. It’s clear people are more likely to opt for a vacation in less densely populated destinations, desiring the beach or other locales where they can get outdoors.
Smith: The reopening has really put into perspective how important and how responsible the resort is regarding the care and health of our team and both leisure and business travel guests.
Farella: How important transparency is for our guests. It’s really important for them to know about any operational restrictions – restaurant closures/ hours, entertainment variations, etc. that may impact their stay (especially for repeat guests).
What advice would you give to a hotel that’s planning their own re-opening?
Greene: Follow through with the plan that you put in place and do a walkthrough prior to guests coming back. You would be surprised what you learn when you are standing on the opposite side of the desk.
Crawford: Create an open dialogue and make sure you’re prepared to respond quickly. There is a lot of uncertainty about the guest experience and people are asking a lot of questions. It’s important that we communicate with guests and potential guests openly and honestly.
Smith: Go slow and be conservative. The market is currently showing that there is demand for drive market leisure guests, but the health and cleanliness are the greatest concern to everyone…If the associates are comfortable while practicing current social distancing and cleanliness mandates, the guest will see this and enjoy their experience.
What aspect of your operations do you feel guests care most about?
Crawford: They just want a place to get away to and relax. And they want to understand what will be different about the guest experience.
Smith: I think that everyone has been so pent up and they are ready to get out. Once they see that your property and team have active cleanliness guidelines and protocols in place, they are ready to getaway and enjoy themselves.
Greene: Half of them care about our procedures while the other half wants to make sure they can vacation the same as pre-COVID.
Smith: I think that TRUST in the hotel resort, brand, their operations and knowledgeable staff regarding cleanliness, space and comfort [is] now more than ever the most important “amenity” to individuals and families looking to travel for business, vacation, getaway or a staycation weekend escape.
What do you wish you knew or prepared more for?
Farella: I think our biggest obstacle was not knowing what business demands would be, not just for overnight accommodations, but dining and beach services.
Crawford: The early adopters who are traveling right now aren’t overly concerned with our safety precautions. If anything, they seem more concerned about how the safety precautions we’ve implemented will impact the availability of amenities and the overall guest experience. I suspect this will change some as more people who were originally cautious about traveling start to venture out more.
Greene: Preparing for the initial large wave of guests and knowing that more direction and planning are necessary.
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Read MoreWhether you’ve recently re-opened, are still planning your big return, or never really closed to begin with, chances are you’ve been presented with challenges and opportunities you never saw coming.
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