Versatility. In the world of hospitality, it’s the key to surviving and thriving in a COVID-impacted business climate.
As new waves and variants emerge in this ongoing pandemic, venues have had to develop creative solutions to maintain profit, utilizing their properties in new ways and offering services tailored to a new normal — one where safety is as important to guests as entertainment.
Cedric Ancellin, Founder and Chief Technology Officer of UrVenue, says COVID-related hurdles like initial occupancy limitations are forcing the hospitality industry to think outside the box. He says that hospitality brands will need to innovate in ways they haven’t before by finding new revenue streams.
You can’t deny it: customer expectations have rapidly evolved in the post-pandemic era. The customer journey itself has been redefined, shifting from a focus on entertainment value to one that is more balanced between peace of mind and unique entertainment offerings. These expectations can be clearly seen as travelers book their hotel and resort experiences. Examples of new revenue streams within the hospitality arena can include:
- Cabanas, daybeds and chaise lounges. Booked prior to a guest arriving and available as a pre-arrival purchase or reservation.
- Early check-in or late-check. Offered at a supplementary fee to generate ancillary revenues.
- Prime-time restaurant reservations. Set table minimums and offer specialty menus to control inventory and demand.
- Exclusive gaming table availability. Pre-sell for those wanting a private experience.
- Repurposed multi-function rooms. Sell by the hour for a socially distanced event, office space, or other pop-up experiences.
Fresh Hospitality Approaches for the New Guest Journey
Providing a positive customer experience that keeps venues in compliance with constantly changing local restrictions can be challenging. Still, venues willing to refocus their typical approaches stand a good chance of coming out the other side of the pandemic successfully. Driving revenue may look different in a post-pandemic world, but reframing your customer experience strategy is key.
Expand Booking and Ticketing Technologies
Enhance the guest booking journey with versatile booking and ticketing technologies for experiences. Integrating these solutions with systems like the PMS can allow hotels and resorts to shape guest buying behavior from pre-arrival through checkout. For example, a PMS integration with an experience booking solution can enable properties to offer non-room inventory as part of the room booking journey, encouraging guests to build out an itinerary with advance bookings before arriving on property.
UrVenue’s Head of Product, Mitchell Zak, shares extensive insight in a recent blog on how to redefine and re-think your hotel and resort technology stack.
Consumers need more than what many establishments are ready to offer and they have come to demand the same things of hotels and resorts as they do of other businesses:
- Assurance that health and safety protocols are being sufficiently followed
- Real-time information necessary for a safe, convenient, and pleasant visit
- Access to contactless service and booking capabilities
Better Personalization During the Booking Process
Post-pandemic travelers are driven by deals, access to experiences, and personalized itinerary-building capabilities. Nearly 90% of survey respondents from our Integrated Resorts & Amenities Insights 2021 Study said they would be motivated to book hotel amenities, add-ons, and experiences in advance and like to start planning early to make the most of their trip.
“Tourists benefit from the perks of pre-booking,” Ancellin says. “For example, they know they’ll have a chair at the pool and happily pay for that assurance ahead of time.”
For example, personalization for a family with young children may be paying a supplementary fee for flexible check in and checkout times or takeaway breakfasts and lunches from a resort restaurant to be able to enjoy delicious dining on the go. Not to mention, this added revenue can help offset operational costs for when cleaning and maintenance schedules are adjusted due to early and late checkouts.
For the couple on a honeymoon or anniversary trip, offer bundled opportunities in the digital booking path for a couples massage at the spa, pool or cabana rentals for the day, or even tickets to a show.
From a transactional perspective, it’s important to view paying guests on a continuum versus a singular revenue point. Envision ways to improve the guest experience with truly valuable benefits they won’t mind paying a little more to enjoy.
The easier you make it for customers to purchase personalized add ons, the more they’ll purchase in advance.
Alternative presale examples could include offers like:
- Primetime restaurant reservations with table minimums or specialty menus
- A chef’s table experience that includes pandemic-precautions like adequate social distancing
- In-room provisioning for limited service hotels
- Pre-selling gaming table inventory for guests seeking private experiences
- By-the-hour rentals of pool or beach side inventory like umbrellas, chairs, and lounges
Ancellin says that UrVenue is uniquely positioned to help hotels and resorts overcome COVID-related challenges in the coming months. “UrVenue optimizes the guest journey with pre-bookings,” he says. “By creatively using our experience-based commerce platform, clients are successfully building new revenue streams and year-over-year growth.”