Hotels

Here’s how COVID has changed hotels – and what it means for your next vacation | Travel convenience store

Hotels have changed a lot since the start of the pandemic, and more changes are coming. Now that COVID-19 finally seems to be on the way out, hotels are making a few more tweaks in time for summer — for better or worse.

So how will your hotel stay be different? Debbie Winset, a non-profit tour operatorhas seen some of the changes, and she’s not impressed.

On a recent business trip to Southern California, her hotel charged her $10 for parking and an additional $10 for breakfast. Before the pandemic, the same hotel included parking and breakfast in the room rate. When she asked about the extras, a rep shrugged and said, “We have to offset all the extra COVID-related costs one way or another.”

“My hotel rates were no lower than previous years, and the service was definitively less,” she adds.

Learn more about the COVID-19 pandemic

Hotels, motels and resorts are always evolving, and so is COVID. Over the past three months, I’ve stayed at properties in Europe and the Middle East ranging from permissive (a breakfast buffet with no restrictions) to conservative (a la carte service only with masked and gloved waiters) . Some hotels offer full housekeeping, while others leave you alone for the duration of your stay.

“There are still a lot of unknowns,” says Faisal Sublaban, president of Bonotel Exclusive Travel, a travel agency in Las Vegas. But he says that, generally speaking, hotels are starting to return to their pre-pandemic range, with some important exceptions.

Some things will probably never change. For example, hotels that once served breakfast buffets will slowly start to scale them back as the pandemic subsides. Other things may change permanently, such as daily maid service. When it comes to customers, the worst part is that some hotels will look for new ways to leverage the pandemic to generate additional revenue. So watch your wallets, fellow travellers.

Here’s what changed for good

Some of the changes have been for the better, and they appear to be permanent. For example, Resort Martinhala Portuguese chain of luxury family hotels, is maintaining its rigorous cleaning and security measures even as restrictions have slowly eased.

“We will adapt, with guidance from the government,” says Chitra Stern, CEO of the channel.

I’ve spoken to several hotels who say they plan to keep their sanitizing stations and stringent cleaning measures because guests want them.

the Atlantis Resorts The hotel chain has launched an app at the resort that allows guests to check in, access their rooms and order room service. This reduces touchpoints, such as retrieving a room key or using the room phone to order dinner or call the concierge with a question. Apps like these will stick around, leading to a smoother stay.

The biggest changes are hotel cancellation policies. During the pandemic, many properties allowed last-minute cancellations to entice customers to book. Some, but not all, of these flexible policies will survive. At Domaine Madeleinea small luxury hotel in Port Angeles, guests appreciated the looser rules, says Stephen Fofanoff, the general manager.

“Changes are now an integral part of our operations,” he says.

Hotel experts agree that many, if not all, of these changes are set in stone.

“It’s easy to forget that there was a time when features like enhanced cleaning and free cancellation weren’t standard when looking for a hotel,” says Melissa Dohmen, spokesperson for Hotels.com.

Post-COVID, fresh attention and reduced service

Winsett, the tour operator, says his experience is no accident. Hotels try to make a profit in lean times. Ellis Connolly, Chief Revenue Officer of Asiaa hotel technology company, says fees and surcharges help them achieve this.

“The most important thing that will change for hotels is their profit margins and their ability to continue to do more with less,” he says.

This means hotels can add new fees for amenities, like parking and breakfast, that were previously included with your stay. For now, many full-service hotels have returned to daily housekeeping. But other properties limit room cleaning to every other day or on demand only, and some even charge an extra fee.

“The pandemic has created many additional financial burdens for hotels,” says Vimal Patel, President of Qhotels, a hotel management company. “Labour costs have increased significantly. They are up 20 to 25% compared to the pre-pandemic period. “There’s no way the hotel can sustain itself without passing these kinds of rate increases on to guests.”

The only solution is to add new fees. These extras can become a permanent part of the hotel pricing system. But for the moment, it is difficult to say if they will hold.

Here’s what we don’t know about post-COVID hotels

Although the post-COVID hotel experience is focusing, no one knows exactly what hotels will look like in the future. It all depends on how the pandemic ends – and what hotel guests want when it happens. Scott Ford, Director of Marketing at Hotels in Innisfreesaid even with declining cases, it is too early to tell.

“We learned as soon as we think we understood this situation, it changes again for us,” he says.

Here are some of the best hotel changes after COVID

New and upgraded rooms. Forward-looking hotel chains have taken advantage of periods of low occupancy to renovate. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts renovated or extended properties from Bangkok to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. the Ritz Carlton San Francisco transformed its central courtyard from a meeting area for private events into a central area for guests to spend time outdoors.

New menu items. To Holiday Inn Express, the hotel has retained its pancake and cinnamon roll station for breakfast. But knowing his guests were always health conscious, he also added Greek yogurt, fresh fruit and oatmeal with toppings. “We wanted to add options that customers wanted and needed,” says Stephanie Atiase, the company’s vice president of marketing and global brand management.

A new attitude. There is a feeling that the hotels have survived the pandemic, and that’s something to celebrate. Milwaukee Ambassador Hotel takes this at face value by reviving happy hour. It added new cocktails and appetizers to appeal to slowly returning business travelers. “Happy hour will return with the return of business travel,” predicts Jon Jossart, general manager of the Ambassador.

Navigating the Pandemic