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COVID-19 and the Changes in the Hospitality Industry

The COVID-19 pandemic has been part of our life for now more than one year. While it has drastically changed the dynamics of our social and economic realities, some industries have been quite proactive and creative in figuring out how to adapt to it. The hospitality industry has been one of these. As a matter of fact, hotels have been “making major shifts in their marketing focus, messaging, and offerings to meet consumers where they’re at both mentally and physically” as marketing manager for Agency Off Record Hilary Hadden reports in one of her blogs.

One of the most creative solution hoteliers came up with was the concept of “staycation”, as reported by Hadden: this is namely an encouragement for people to venture out into their own city or state (rather than abroad, since travel is restricted) and treat themselves to a long weekend at a hotel. In order to make this vacation variant memorable, hotels have been making their services more appealing, guaranteeing for their guests the exoticism of luxurious hotels abroad in their own hometown. Some examples of this could be adding spa-like bathrooms and even just expensive sheets to the room, giving guests a little escape from the current situation and playing with any detail that could trigger memories of past vacations.

Another aspect hotels had to deal with was adapting to social distancing requirements and safety rules. The hospitality industry being based on human contact – from the front desk giving you the keys, to cleaning and dining in-room service – made it difficult for guests to trust hotels at first. This made hotels become even more meticulous with cleaning services, and extremely transparent about how they handles health and safety practices. A very creative solution for this issue has been reported by a Forbes article written by Kaitlyn McInnis. The writer reports that the Mercantile Hotel has “taken social distancing one step further with their latest employee: Suga.” Suga is a robot concierge that is three feet tall, yet can carry up to a hundred pounds, walk at a human walking pace, and “enforce social distancing by delivering towels, snacks, and other requests directly to guests with no human contact needed.”

Finally, hotels had to cope with guests’ necessity to feel entertained during their vacation experience. The impossibility for crowds to attend public events has inspired hotels such as the Pasèa Hotel and Spa (located in the heart of Huntington Beach, California), as reported by David Berger writing for Hospitalitynet, to find a very unusual yet brilliant solution. Since last summer, the hotel began hosting balcony concerts where guests could watch live concerts from their own balconies on Friday and Saturday evenings. As reported by Berger, “the concert fee is tacked on to the room fee, so guests don't need to pay for additional tickets to enjoy the event.”

These three examples of hotels reacting creatively to the pandemic should be an inspiration for all hotels around the world. Although COVID-19 has imposed several limitations, it is true that it created new opportunities for those who are ready to seize them by thinking creatively.

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