Over the past two years, much has changed in the way hotels operate.
In 2020, hoteliers felt the brunt of the pandemic; facing closures and reimagining customer experience. Similarly, in 2021 we saw a major pivot in strategy to re-open establishments and re-engage customers.
Thankfully, 2022 holds a promising year for hoteliers. Offering an opportunity to cater to new customer preferences and try new trends and digital technologies that enhance the experience.
So, as we start the new year, keeping trends in experience top of mind is critical to earn loyalty and encourage more bookings.
Here we highlight five trends to shape the hotel experience in 2022.
While contactless communication was around way before the pandemic, during it, it grew exponentially. From offering contactless channels in the form of a text message or email, today’s communication involves a range of digital channels with a seamless brand experience.
1. Contactless communication
This is partly due to constantly evolving customer preferences with digital communication channels like Facebook Messenger (with 1.3 billion users) and WhatsApp (at 2 billion users). In addition, to the need to move across various channels, more than one-third of Americans make omnichannel features part of their regular shopping routine.
In 2022, this trend will continue to grow and become a norm for everyday communication. In that, hoteliers will seek out solutions to enable seamless multi-channel communication that can keep up with customer inquiries and ensure brand consistency.
2. Next-level personalization
According to a study conducted by Accenture, 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize, remember, and provide relevant recommendations.
It should come as no surprise that personalization continues to dominate within the hotel sphere. As individuals emerge from lockdowns and isolation, human connection and relationships become paramount in building a thriving experience.
For the hotelier, however, this goes beyond the name and product recommendations that are already entrenched into guest expectations. Rather, hotels need to focus on unique personal experiences that resonate with guests and make them feel special. Think of writing a personal thank you note and leaving it in their room, stocking a guest’s favorite treat in their mini-fridge (which Virgin Hotels has done impeccably), or offering a complimentary spa experience if a guest mentioned high-stress.
In 2022, hotel experiences will be molded by solutions that enable them to understand the customer through data and sentiment analysis. Using data-driven tactics and opening up communication to enable conversations about preferences, hotels can evolve their experiences to offer an exceptional stay.
3. Multi-functional spaces
With remote and hybrid work environments continuing to grow, more people are bringing their job with them as they travel. For hoteliers, this creates an undisputed need for multi-functional spaces that enable guests to feel comfortable for both work and leisure.
Consider lobbies with ample outlets, shared spaces with free printing, or rooms with desks and adequate lighting. In 2022, taking into account the guest’s need to work can be a meaningful gesture that determines if they revisit or recommend your establishment.
4. Increase precautions and cleanliness
81 percent of travelers have stated they are more comfortable staying at hotels with enhanced protocols and standards implemented.
2020 left a massive imprint on cleanliness, so it goes without saying that increased precautions and cleanliness will be a swaying factor for guests in 2022, and well beyond.
When setting your precautions and cleanliness protocols, think of ways you can do so while streamlining the experience, such as:
- Sending early COVID questionnaires via the customer’s channel of choice, for a seamless check-in.
- Placing mask signage at key areas of your establishment
- Regularly asking for feedback on the cleanliness of your hotel
- Offering free hand sanitizer at check-in and key areas of the hotel
- Offering a request-only maid service
- Communicating on the channel of choice changes made to hours of operation, cleaning routines, group bookings and events, excursions, and more.
We only scratch the surface with these suggestions, so it’s critical to keep a log of all the steps you plan to take. In addition, it’s equally important to communicate your efforts for transparency and peace of mind. Because, when you show guests that you’re making their safety a priority – you build confidence, satisfaction and ensure a safe stay.
5. Focus on holistic and exceptional customer experiences
Customer experience emerged over the past two years as a defining factor for brand selection, with businesses who prioritize customer experience noticing a return of an 80% increase in revenue.
For 2022, providing exceptional experiences will separate you from competitors. This can take the form of going above and beyond, building connections with guests, and offering them support and helpful advice throughout their journey. Rather than focusing on specific aspects of guest interaction like check-in, room service, and so on, the focus will turn to the journey as a whole.
As an example, we can take a look at offering more contactless channels. As opposed to adopting a single trending channel, a holistic experience would consider what channels customers want, where in the journey they’d use them, how employees communicate on them, optimization of those channels on specific devices, and other preferences.
A common theme throughout the aforementioned trends is a keen understanding of the customer and their experience. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s the value of human connection and a new appreciation for experiences that brands provide.
Moving through 2022 and the new trends that will emerge along the way, we urge you to keep watch as they continue to shape the hotel sphere.
Editor’s note: This post was written by Sandra Holland, Marketing Manager for Benbria. Learn more about Benbria on Tripleseat’s Marketplace.