Changing Restrictions Highlight Need to Up-Skill Workforce
By Pedro Colaco, CEO at GuestCentric Systems
The "great reopening" as Time magazine coined it, has happened in the US. New York magazine called it "the return of FOMO. Following the pandemic, it’s time for fun", and The New Yorker called it "Easing back."
Although our June 2021 Market Trends analysis shows total hotel bookings have dipped below pre-pandemic levels, the growth of international travel demand remains stable. As European destinations tentatively reopen borders, and some welcome travelers from the US and other parts of the globe, international bookings now account for over 60% of total bookings.
However, market disruptions in June 2021 appear to have impacted hoteliers’ revenue expectations. The number of Hoteliers who expect to increase revenue in 2021 vs 2020 has decreased, while the majority of Hoteliers surveyed in June 2021 now expect to financially recover to pre-pandemic levels only in 2023.
As the appetite for revenge travel increases and consumers grow more demanding, our June 2021 survey results also highlight the industry’s focus on the agility to engage guests amid constant market disruptions. Therefore, the need to upskill the workforce has risen significantly on the industry’s agenda, ahead of summer 2021.
Our June 2021 Channel Performance analysis shows that hotel direct bookings - the most resilient and fastest-recovering channel since the start of the crisis - continue to outperform pre-pandemic levels since May 2021. Therefore, our survey results also suggest that Hoteliers are strongly focused on retaining and growing direct distribution in the recovery and beyond, while third-party distribution appears to have fallen significantly on the industry’s agenda.
The Next Steps for Hotels
Although travel demand is here, changing government restrictions continue to disrupt consumer confidence and travel. Maintaining an agile and viable marketing strategy to increase consumer confidence, will continue to be high on the agenda for Hoteliers in the months to come.
From a commercial perspective, total flexibility is still critical in terms of cancellations and moving bookings to future dates. Therefore, hotels should maintain policies that allow flexible movement of bookings which extends to small meetings, groups, and events.
Although occupancy levels and prices are steadily recovering, they are still significantly lower than pre-pandemic levels. Consumers have a wealth of accommodations to choose from this summer and have grown more demanding in line with ongoing travel disruptions. All of this adds significant pressure to the workforce. Therefore, upskilling staff to effectively respond to the increasingly demanding customer profile will continue to be critical for every hotel’s recovery.
As ever-changing government restrictions continue to disrupt travel confidence, the prevailing uncertainty continues to make any forecasting a challenge. It is crucial for Hoteliers to share information among themselves, to ensure a quick response to changes and an effective capture of demand in the upturn.
If you would like to know what the industry’s expectations will be for summer 2021, I encourage each of you to contribute and take our July Survey HERE.
Pedro ColacoMore from Pedro Colaco
GuestCentric is a leading provider of cloud-based digital marketing software and services that help extraordinary hoteliers promote their brand, drive direct bookings and connect with customers on all digital platforms. GuestCentric's all-in-one platform provides hotels with the only unified solution for managing their guests' online journey: award-winning, high impact websites; an integrated, easy-to-use booking engine; social media marketing and publishing tools; a GDS chain code and a channel manager to offer rooms on Amadeus, Booking.com, Expedia, Galileo, Google, Sabre, TripAdvisor and hundreds of other channels. GuestCentric is a proud provider of solutions that maximize direct bookings to hotel groups and independent hotels from collections such as Design Hotels, Great Hotels of the World, Leading Hotels of the World, Relais & Chateaux, Small Luxury Hotels and Small Danish Hotels. GuestCentric is featured on Skift Travel Tech 250, a list of the top 250 travel tech companies shaping the modern-day travel experience.
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