Will COVID Make Hospitality Stronger
By Craig Jacobs, Freelancer
Profound change in the Meetings and Hospitality Industries is on the verge. Hybrid conferences, food and beverage offerings and new cleanliness and service protocols will scramble current standard operating procedures, profit and loss statements, staffing, pricing and the definition of Luxury.
While change is difficult, the final outcome is going to be an improvement for clients, staff and ownership. Values like quality, efficiency, productivity, and profitability are never-ending quests and the pandemic has provided us with a clean slate to start from scratch.
The following list is just the beginning:
Face-to-face meetings are the heart and soul of our economic culture. The difference between live and remote personal interaction is profound, as we are learning now. But remote attendance is less expensive and less risky. So, we hold two opposing beliefs to be both be true. The emerging talent will be the ability to justify meeting face to-face. Whether the objective is to close a deal, find qualified new prospects, meet with industry leaders or engage with established clients; knowing how to justify the need to be there in person is going to become essential.
There is consensus that Hybrid meetings will stay long after the crisis subsides, which will require many new expensive technical services that integrate remote and live audiences. But one simple change that is free is to reduce human traffic by making attendees stationery and speakers mobile in between breakout sessions. Good for reducing germ exposure but bad for meeting people.
The pounding beat of dance music pulsating from the DJ's giant speakers, the pile-up of frantically gesticulating partiers ordering their drinks at the bar, the smooth transition from ordering drinks to breaking out those signature dance moves. After a long day of meetings, how will we let off steam AND meet new people in the post pandemic era?
Cleanliness is the undisputed number one priority for hotels and Housekeeping is in a state of flux as a result, starting with a myriad of new standards and procedures. Raising the bar will be more costly, even in cases where hotels no longer clean the guest rooms daily. Will the Front Desk be the last resort to check in for technology averse guests? Will Concierge become 100% AI? Will doormen and bell staff even be there? And what happens when tech solutions for hotel services fail or the user experience is less than ideal? IT support is the very last thing that comes to mind in describing a luxury experience.
The popularity of buffets has always been a love or hate proposition. The all-you-can-eat concept can be attractive to some people, but the quality of the food once the chafing dish hits the buffet line goes downhill faster than Lindsey Vonn. It's a moot point in the light of Covid. Eating from a buffet line will forever be considered reckless behavior.
While there will be plenty of fist-bumping and elbow grazing when live events return, the traditional handshake is destined to be replaced. The right hand covering the heart would be a wise alternative; it feels personal, affectionate and safe and can mean hello, goodbye and thank you. Perfect for the Hospitality Industry.
- IN PERSON: Elevate the content of conferences, trade shows and events in ways that clearly justify inperson attendance including a tool kit to help calculate potential ROI
- HYBRID: Create a menu of digital upgrades that would generate new revenue streams including a glitch free guarantee, platforms designed to be marketplaces before, during and after each session and the option to interact in a small group with panelists after a session.
- OUTDOOR: Invest in innovative outdoor venue design for dining, receptions and meetings.
- REVENUE RECOVERY: Re-invent resort fee benefits to include dining credits, discounts at local retail partners and donations as well as the ubiquitous wi-fi, fitness center and bottled water elements.
- DINING: Re-invent buffets designed to provide choices, be sanitary and minimize waste.
Change won't be limited to hotels and events. As the new reality in travel reveals itself, our old way of defining customers and their transactions with us will change too. While the fundamental human need to travel will continue, luxury service standards will change, business, leisure and groups segments will blur, and pricing will rise.
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