In my last interview, Klaus Spiekermann highlighted that adding value – rather than dumping prices – would be the winning long-term strategy going forward. Right now, wellness is perfectly positioned for seamless integration into the hospitality industry to provide enhanced guest experiences and add value to the offering. Already, some wellness facilities have opened up in countries such as the UK, with reports of increased prices to cover the cost of maintaining health and safety measures put in place. However, the hospitality industry seems to be treating the situation differently, opting instead to absorb the costs that come with implementing COVID regulations in their hotels.
My next interview with Matt Beroujon, a hotel general manager whose expertise lies in strategic planning and execution, touches on the internal impact of the pandemic on the hospitality industry, primarily on staff and small operators. Matt also reiterated the need to come up with a stronger long-term strategy that will attract guests without compromising the price or perception of the services offered.
1. A surplus of talent in the job market
One of the biggest marks of this pandemic has been the surge in unemployment, in almost all industries, but particularly within the hospitality industry. There is a floating belief that the hospitality industry will shrink in the next couple of years or while the pandemic lasts. There will be a surplus of talent lying around, hence the job market will become even more competitive than it was before. With very few jobs to go around, the hospitality industry might witness the rise of smaller, fly-by operations that might rival the traditional setup of hotels. The one advantage that these smaller players will have is the speed of adaptation. Thus, hotels need to adapt to the situation much quicker and pivot their business model in order to stay ahead of the curve.
2. Marketing as a tool for changing guest perception
The hospitality industry is currently faced with the task of rebuilding trust. Currently, hotel CEOs are publicising new and improved health and safety protocols that are or have been implemented in their operations. Everyone is highly cautious about their movements and engagements at the moment, and so it is imperative to keep people assured of the measures put in place to protect them. However, it is not enough to just reassure guests. Hotels need strong marketing campaigns that speak directly to the wellness needs of the guests and shift the perspective to encompass a holistic approach to the guest experience. To gain market reappraisal, the industry must think beyond safety alone and emphasise overall wellbeing.
3. Wellbeing as the nucleus of hospitality
The world has settled in with the idea that the pandemic will be part of our lives for at least another twelve months. Because of this, health and wellness are the highlight of all messages across the board, from physical hygiene in washing and sanitising our hands regularly, to mental health practices such as meditation and ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response). Thus, it is essential for hotel operators to keep the wellbeing of the guests at the forefront of all operations, from F&B right up to investment. This downtime within the industry can be invested in retraining staff on how to effectively communicate and represent this relatively new aspect of hospitality to the guests. Once the industry opens up again, wellness standards will be the requirement for any hotel to be successful.
Adaptation is the key to turning this situation around. Hospitality will inevitably go through a remodelling that will ultimately put wellbeing at its centre. A transition such as this is not easy, hence the need to constantly learn, try new things and move fast. In the end, the strongest players will be the ones that managed to read the sign of the times and pivoted their business models without losing their essence.
I am grateful to Matt for his time and sharing his insights with me. Now is the moment to invest time, effort and money into rebuilding an industry that is strong, resilient and future-proof.