Industry Update
Opinion Article18 December 2020

9 Creative Uses for Hotel Rooms for All Budget Types in the Time of COVID-19

By Jonathan Bartlett , Founder & Chief Architect at Clubhouse

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COVID-19 has presented a challenge for the hospitality industry, unrivaled by the likes of any challenge that came before it. Yet, despite global shutdowns and downturns in travel, there is no shortage of hotels thinking outside the box to attract guests—safely and at a social distance. With a downturn in bookings, many hotels have pivoted to F&B experiences to generate revenue. But there are plenty of easy, cost-effective ways to convince guests to book rooms—and not all of them involve heads in beds.

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GUEST ROOMS AS INDOOR DINING ROOMS

Food remains one of the biggest draws for travelers. It's also a fantastic way to generate revenue from locals who still want to dine out and support local businesses.

  • $: While many remain wary of dining out, hotel rooms provide an ideal way to eat with a small group of friends and family—or alone. If you have an existing restaurant, make unreserved rooms available for restaurant reservations. It's an easy way to generate revenue from empty spaces while allowing guests to enjoy their meal in safety and comfort.
  • $$: Give guests who are staying at the hotel a reason to dine in. By recording content or offering virtual experiences with your chef or sommelier, you can offer in-room culinary experiences that don't require an oven or a stovetop, such as charcuterie and wine pairings. The champagne and mole pairing at Waldorf Astoria, Los Cabos Pedregal, tastes just as good in the room as it does from the hotel's oceanfront champagne terrace.
  • $$$: Swedish chefs Rasmus Persson and Linda Karlsson landed in Food & Wine this spring for their "Bord för en" project, which means "table for one." The outdoor restaurant, located in Ransäter, Värmland, is one table and one chair in the middle of a meadow. A three-course meal is delivered by rope and basket, making the entire experience contact-free. For hotel rooms and suites with balconies, terraces, or rooftop access, this unique and contactless dining experience for one will be one that your guests won't soon forget.

GUEST ROOMS AS THE MAIN DESTINATION ATTRACTION

It used to be that guest rooms were a place to sleep, or perhaps to relax before an evening out. Now, with main attractions (think Broadway theaters in New York) closed for the near future, hotels can bring the destination to their rooms.

  • $: In a matter of seconds, you can go live on Instagram. Consider reaching out to local partners, such as museums or cultural attractions (especially those that are also closed at this time), and schedule exciting programming throughout the week. For example, a museum curator could discuss an exhibit that's currently closed, or a local chef can give tips on how to make one of her most popular dishes at home.
  • $$: Take it a step further by offering special packages with an experiential component. By partnering with local brands to provide a curated snack basket along with free premium movies, a night in the hotel room becomes as fun as a night at the movie theater. In-room offerings (at a surcharge) can reach all types of travelers, from video game consoles and games for kids to dog treats and plush dog beds.
  • $$$: Experience companies like Atlas Obscura have global networks of interesting people doing unusual and uncommon things. Partnering with these brands not only gives your hotel plenty of exposure to their large audiences but also gives your guests access to premium programming from the comfort of their guest room. These timed and ticketed Zoom experiences can be custom-created for your hotel and take virtual in-room experiences to new heights.

GUEST ROOMS AS FITNESS CENTERS

While fitness centers remain closed due to COVID-19, hotel guest rooms become the perfect safe space for solo workouts.

  • $: If your guest rooms have smart TVs and speakers, you can curate streaming content for guests to exercise in the room. Easy-to-transport equipment, like sanitized weights, could be brought to guest rooms. For a surcharge, you could provide custom amenity bags with yoga mats and water bottles that guests get to take home with them.
  • $$: With a small production budget, you can work with local fitness personalities to film custom workouts in your hotel's guest rooms. These exercises are responsive to your space limitations and feel extra custom and branded to your property. It's ideal to partner with an individual or organization with a substantial social media presence who can help promote and raise awareness of your hotel's new, custom fitness programming.
  • $$$: You can transform spacious rooms into unique suites for fitness lovers. For a limited time only, you can partner with indoor cycling brand SoulCycle or Mirror, the "nearly invisible home gym," to offer premium in-room workout amenities.
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