Were Your Strategic Hospitality Decisions the Right Ones?

Let’s take the perspective from a glass half-full

Whether you use the idiom left hand versus right hand, up versus down, positive versus negative, or my favorite, glass half-full versus half-empty – you understand that there are two perspectives for any situation. If 2020 and 2021 have taught us anything, it is that we flipped “normal” on its head – er … its tail.

Some decisions were made for the right reason and some were made because it was the only option. But each may offer its own perspective to appreciate.

Glass Half-Empty

Glass Half-Full

COVID-19 required properties to spend significantly more on cleaning and sanitation. With Plexiglas partition screens, masks, hand sanitizer and sterilizing spaces after each use, some properties have reported an increase of 200 percent or greater in expense in this area. Our properties have never been cleaner and created confidence in us for our guests through the pandemic. Top priority by all operators is to be fully compliant with all ordinances by the local health department, and it’s no longer difficult to train the team about the expectations.
Daily housekeeping suspended due to reducing touch points. At first, we thought there would be countless complaints that this service was halted during COVID-19. For thousands of years, housekeepers clean and make the beds daily. Daily housekeeping expense greatly reduced – possibly forever. With this change during COVID-19, it looks like overnight “we” have trained our guests not to expect daily service. This is a primary hotel expense that could not have been reduced in normal times.
Hiring challenges due to labor supply being diminished and significantly more expensive. No one wants to work. Moreover, our work is hard. With PUA and unemployment money coming from the federal and local governments, most chose not to return to hard work. Finding team members has been nearly unbearable. Technology being added to streamline service and efficiencies for guests. Mobile check-in, keyless entry, digital menus with QR codes, digital signage and touchless payment are all becoming normal expectations of service. There are even more tech options on the horizon in all areas.
Loss of face-to-face marketing. There shall be no talking to our guests. Hard sells with timeshare-like presentations are long gone. No longer do we have a need for concierges and a promotions marketing team. Push technology to send offers directly to guests in a geo-synchronized manner. Direct marketing to your phone with specials and current promotions. Offer codes can be received and redeemed directly from your mobile device.
Travel is down and dining out has nearly come to an end through 2020 and early part of 2021. Hunkering down and canceling all business travel was the first casualty. Staycations and regional vacations returned first, but most vacation travel was avoided during the pandemic. Guests are demanding an experience and willing to pay (for the time being) a premium for it. Those guests who began to travel and go out to dinner were less concerned about costs, and more demanding of an experience at almost any cost. This has been good for most properties that embraced the offering, rather than just being open.
Lack of travel and booking has affected points towards loyalty programs. Many travelers who were motivated by staying loyal because of the point payout have left their loyalty on the table to receive “best offers” elsewhere. Guests shop for the best experience and returns for their spend at the competition. Many loyalty programs got extended and smart companies got creative in how they rewarded and incentivized their guests. Smart companies have carried over points for longer windows in order for those who might miss their status levels to have time to earn them through an extended period of time. Guests want to stay loyal, but do not feel that loyalty is two-way when they lose status due to lack of travel during the pandemic.
Supply chain problems have significantly impacted deliveries of products and supplies this year. From basic supplies, to operating pars to new FF&E, all items from around the world and down the street have been impacted by shipping and availability delays. Vendors and buyers have gotten very creative in working together to solve problems through honest communication to fill voids in supply issues for an almost seamless experience. Partnering with designers and vendors to stay ahead of delivery issues is the only way to be successful. The best examples include early and honest talk about statuses and issues well before they become a problem. Allowing the supply chain to be part of the solution often helps alleviate longer delays.
Bad breath. Besides the obvious … the worst part is the fact that we can’t see the smile. Mask breath. It’s a real thing! But hearing the smile and seeing the smile in their eyes while wearing a mask makes the difference during these pandemic times.

As we navigate through another year, remember – a glass should always be perceived as half-full. If yours isn’t … get a smaller glass.

Brett Magnan 30 Articles