The Hospitality ‘Snapback’: Tips from Busy Hotels Around the Country

Thanks to the unprecedented vaccination rollout, Americans have started to travel again! With their newfound freedom, they are getting on planes and staying in hotels and resorts around the country. After speaking with various hotel executives and from personal observations, I gleaned some trending tips for those destinations that are just starting to open:

  • Revenge travel has started! No surprise—people are anxious to get out of their homes and, especially, be with nature—beaches and mountains are particularly popular.
  • Customers are buying suites and staying longer.
  • Potential guests are acting more impulsively and booking extremely last minute. One hotel GM told me they receive as many as 50 reservations per day, many for arrival within 48 hours.
  • Likewise, social events are booking very last minute—48 to 72 hours out. This brings huge pressure on the culinary team to get enough food and on the banquet department to get enough staff to service events.
  • Corporate meetings are slowly coming back. Planners are starting to sign contracts and conversion is increasing. There is more confidence about getting teams together for face-to-face meetings beginning in Q4 2021 and strong as of January 2022.
  • In general, meetings are smaller and there is less actual meeting time and more networking events and teambuilding exercises.
  • Hybrid meetings—combining in-person attendees with others attending virtually—is a big trend at the moment. A recent survey by NorthStar Meetings Group found that 76% of meeting planners are either currently planning a hybrid meeting or thinking about it. Figure out how you can make this happen effortlessly and at what price point.
  • Families are traveling year-round with less adherence to the school calendar since many students are still remote learning.
  • The trend of food delivery, such as UberEats, which spiked during the pandemic, continues even as people are traveling again. Hotels need to determine where the delivery person goes (especially if you don’t want them walking through the lobby or in the guest hallways), how to get the food quickly to the guestrooms—think about ice cream—and what the guests do with the trash (since they want it out of the room to get rid of the smell, yet you don’t want it in the hallway).
  • People want/like to eat with people who are in their bubble but not too close to people outside of their bubble. Guests want to see their family and friends but are still wary of interactions with outsiders.
  • Indoor mask wearing is difficult to enforce, especially as many people are fully vaccinated. Limiting the capacity in elevators is especially challenging. I’ve seen as many as 8 people pile out of a lift, many without masks. This is a tough situation when some people are still concerned and unvaccinated. It’s best to offer alternative route options, including using the stairs, and make sure they are clean.
  • Cleaning protocols are important, but consumers don’t want it front and center on your website or marketing material. In some cases, it’s more the fact of seeing people cleaning than it is knowing about the cleaning protocols.
  • Buffets have been removed at many hotels. Some hotels still have it but require guests to disinfect their hands before going to the buffet line. This is an area that needs to be thought through.
  • Make sure your sales team is good at doing virtual site inspections and webinars. One hotel hired a company to train and augment its virtual presence. It really helps give the team confidence, since virtual site inspections were around even before COVID and will likely continue.
  • Every hotel I’ve talked to is complaining about lack of staff. The hospitality industry has lost a lot of great people to other industries, and it’s very difficult to staff up. Be sure to factor that in when determining occupancy forecast and even how many rooms will be sold on any given night.

It’s debatable if we will ever return to ‘normal.’ We are, however, returning to improved hotel performance. Those locations that were ahead in the recovery are starting to see record RevPAR figures, even ahead of 2019. Brainstorm with your team about how your hotel can leverage these trends and be prepared for the hospitality snapback!


"The only reason virtual meetings have been somewhat successful is that they are built on a foundation of years of in-person relationships." – Adam Sacks, president Tourism Economics

"Sometimes you need a little crisis to get your adrenaline flowing and help you realize your potential." – Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle

Hire Jo-Anne to:

  • Engage a trusted advisor for consultation and recommendations.
  • Conduct a deep-dive review of your sales and marketing organization.
  • Remove silos and other barriers to employee productivity.
  • Support your leaders with leadership executive coaching.
  • Create a healthy organizational culture.
  • Develop a strategic plan to manage today’s changing environment.

If you would like to hear more, simply reach out to Jo-Anne at
[email protected].

About Jo-Anne Hill

Jo-Anne is an industry expert who founded JH Hospitality Consulting to help hotels around the world dramatically improve revenue and profitability in creative ways. Her strategic thinking, skill, and practical approach to problem-solving come from hands-on experience at companies such as The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, the Mandarin-Oriental Hotel Group, the Dorchester Collection, and Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts.

Jo-Anne’s recently published book ‘Cultivating Leadership: How great leaders make a difference, one hotel at a time” dives deeper into the equation: happy staff = happy guests = more revenue.

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