Hotels 2022 – Spotty Recover or Roaring Rebound?
“Travel’s Theme for 2022, Go Big”
Some forecasters predict the (literally) pent-up desire by travelers wanting to make up for lost time, along with easing of travel restrictions and the ebbing of covid variants, will bring travel ‘roaring’ back in 2022 to pre-pandemic levels.
Others predict a more spotty recovery as it will take the resumption of business travel to return the hospitality industry to full health.
Hoteliers should be prepared to navigate some of both.
The New York Times wrote this month, “Travel’s Theme for 2022, ‘Go Big.’”*
They cite airfares are down, as much as 18% compared to 2019 (for now, as global energy issues are increasingly volatile) and while rental cars are still pricey and hard to find, bookings are up for all types of travel and lodging.
The coming rebound shows travelers seeking ‘meaning and richness,’ rejuvenation and connection, including unique local food, wellness options, and quality sleep.
They are planning large family gatherings, intimate couples’ getaways, meditative retreats, bucket list adventures, and edu-vacations with the kids. The 50+ demographic is fully vaccinated and stepping out.
Joy in the Air
There’s a certain joy in the air of renewed freedom–Disneyland is open and Southwest is serving alcohol again. City destinations are trending as visitors return to theaters, museums, live music venues, and large events.
This is all mainly good news, but some challenges remain for the hospitality industry.
While big corporate business travel has been slow to return, many hotels have learned how to appeal to the digital nomads, and adapt to the growth of work-from-hotel and combined work and leisure (bleisure) travel.
During the pandemic, many sought the privacy of rental homes. Hotels are competing by offering stylish extended-stay properties, sustainable options, and co-working spaces.
While this won’t yet replace the mega conferences and events, it is a healthy revenue option that’s likely here to stay.
Few industries suffered more from the nationwide labor shortage than hotels.
Some predict one-third of former hospitality workers will not return to the industry. Hospitality executives must come to terms with the new requirements of hotel workers from increased wages and expanded benefits, improved work conditions, and other innovative solutions to keep employees on staff.
Tech upgrades can make up for some of these employee gaps and many hotels have been investing in these for years–everything from robotic room service, digital concierges, and contactless check-ins, to accommodate the changing needs of their guests and staff shortages. Hotels should prioritize staying current with technology in the future.
Risk management is even more critical now, and hotels should review all insurance policies for any new post-pandemic coverage requirements, risk mitigation, and costs.
With planning, innovation, and market awareness, hotels can navigate the possible roaring comeback and the spotty surprises.