To say that 2020 threw a wrench into the hospitality industry’s carefully calculated strategies and plans would be an understatement. Whether it was to explore new locations, to reach new audiences, or even to launch something new altogether, we had to hit the brakes and buckle up to survive the coronavirus and its domino effect. Naturally, 2021’s trends took a different turn than expected, with local travel and workations being two of the most significant results. Halfway through the year, this article takes a look at how the trends have played out thus far, and what emerging trends in the hospitality industry we need to keep an eye out for.
Automation & Tech In The Forefront
Technology has been playing an increasingly important role in the hospitality industry over the last decade, from ‘outsourcing’ tasks to robots and AI to AI-powered chatbots. Integrated, cloud-based and mobile solutions are becoming increasingly commonplace.
But 2020 introduced a new aspect of tech in hospitality, all due to the socially-distanced landscape. This was the rise of going contactless, which saw technology and tech vendors going from simply providing efficient solutions to directly impacting the consumers and their user experience.
A recent report by Hotelier PULSE shows that ‘Healthy & safety Concerns’ is a consumer behavior that has re-emerged in significance. In that light, contactless check-in has been implemented in nearly every hotel and hostel, reassuring the guests of their safety. goSTOPS is in the process of launching an app that gives guests the ease of contactless check-in, among other things. Guests now have the ease of several amenities at their fingertips, while we at goSTOPS and other hoteliers are better equipped to deal with operational disruptions.
Increased Guest Personalization & Interaction Throughout Their Journey
Related to the function of technology is the ramping up of personalization and interaction with guests and travelers through every stage of their journey. Strengthening brand relationships with our guests has become the need of the hour, considering the uncertainty of the times. Plus, the hospitality industry went through quite the cash-crunch with the many lockdowns and the standstill in travel – we could all fare well with a boost in business!
One of the ways in which goSTOPS is looking at this interaction (which is where technology steps up) is via our goSTOPS app. The app augments the sociability of our hostels in multiple ways, ensuring that our guests get the goSTOPS experience no matter what stage of their journey they’re on. Travelers get a platform to interact with other goSTOPS guests and to share snippets of their journey, creating a community of goSTOPS travelers to bond with.
And of course, the insights from their use of the app help us understand their preferences and patterns, improving our personalization. Mailchimp and Zoho are two of many tools that are proving beneficial to personalize email marketing, further helping hoteliers narrow down on specific audiences and targeting their strategies even more effectively. A robust ORM system and customer experience management system combine to form CRM over at goSTOPS, helping us segment and personalize our approach to our tech-savvy GenZ audience like never before.
Combining Work & Play With Workations
Without a doubt, the concept of workations is the new kid on the blog, practically displacing all other travel trends. Airbnb data shows that during the months of June, July and August of 2020, over 20% of their searches were for long-term stays, characteristic of a workation. Keep in mind that this was when it had been a few months of the work-from-home scenario and the pandemic was picking up pace. Clearly, the trend has picked up, and is likely to continue; companies like Microsoft and Deloitte have already given their employees the option to work from home permanently.
Hotels and hostels have made arrangements to make their spaces equipped for remote working in a bid to attract weary work-from-home vassals. A report by Airbnb showed that a strong Internet connection and proper hygiene were two important criteria that determined what place travelers would choose for a workation. In terms of destinations, offbeat places and properties around nature are preferred. We’ve made arrangements of our own over at goSTOPS, right from specially designated workspaces to 15 and 30-day workation packages for guests to choose from.
Local & Domestic Travel
Vipul Prakash, COO of MakeMyTrip, says that travelers will lean towards travel that “balances their itinerary with a languid pace, affording them the time to explore more while eliminating the stress of rushing around.” Travel to offbeat destinations and longer stays will definitely be an increasing travel trend; already our goSTOPS hostel in Palampur and Naggar, both offbeat destinations, have clocked in 27% and 16% occupancy rates respectively, and this has only been from January to July of this year.
Plus, in the light of travel restrictions still being fairly… restrictive, domestic travel has picked up the pace. The government, too, is trying to ramp up domestic tourism to try and make up for the financial losses of the previous two years with the “Dekho Apna Desh” campaign from the Ministry of Tourism. Considering the vaccine rollout and the revenge travel that’s been emerging, domestic tourism will continue to pick up the pace.