It’s official — the world is getting back to normal and the events industry is starting to see post-COVID leads and bookings, which is such a great thing to see! If you’re anything like me, you’re already looking for any excuse to plan a small event or trip to get out of the house and enjoy some warmer weather.

It’s safe to say that most everything will be a little bit different as we begin navigating the world post-COVID — airports and transportation will look different, all the way to your hotel stay and any activities you’re planning on doing.

When the world shut down and travel was halted, hotels and most of the hospitality industry had to think of creative ways to keep their business alive. If you’re an extroverted introvert like me, you may like some of the new and improved hotel features that look like they’re around to stay.

In-room fitness

Hotels around the world are getting creative with their fitness partnerships. A lot of large brand hotels are syncing up with popular fitness brands such as Peloton and Mirror to provide in-room fitness options as an additional perk. In addition to this, some hotels have signed on for streaming fitness classes so guests can work out live with an instructor right from their rooms.

With their fitness areas closed during most of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, a lot of hotels found new ways to give their guests the fitness experience they still wanted, and now it’s looking like it may be a perk that’ll continue to evolve even after the pandemic has been controlled.

In-room dining

One of the most unique trends we’re seeing with hotels rethinking their rooms is the in-room dining experience. When you think of an in-room dining experience at a hotel, you might imagine booking a room for a night and getting some fancy room service delivered. Maybe there’s a table or desk to sit at, but you’ll probably end up eating off the tray from your bed. That’s what I certainly imagined until I saw what the Hewing Hotel in Minneapolis’ North Loop was doing.

During a time of extremely low occupancy and strict dining restrictions, they decided to use their room vacancies to their advantage and turn their guest rooms into private dining rooms. They started off small by removing the beds from a small handful of rooms and bringing in tables, it was such a unique offering that they sold out in the first weekend. They have since expanded and are now offering 14 private dining rooms, four nights a week. Now we’re seeing many hotels following in their footsteps and creating special experiences for their guests.

In-room entertainment

We’ve all been there; you get back to your hotel room after a long day of business (or fun), and flick on the TV and scroll through trying to find something on their basic cable options. When there’s nothing, you either wander down to borrow a DVD player for a movie, or you rent an on-demand movie.

With most entertainment limited, some hotels have looked into investing with DIRECTV and other affiliated companies to allow their guests to stream HBO libraries and other movie networks in their room at no additional cost. Allowing more in-room entertainment will continue to keep visitors happy and entertained, especially while movie theaters and other entertainment companies are making a slower return for safety.

Memberships

This is going beyond the room, but it’s definitely worth noting if you’re looking for a bit of an extended stay. We’ve seen most hotels offering extended stay deals, offering discounts, or special enhancements if their guests stay more than a few days with them.

What’s more creative than that is a multi-hotel membership like the Freehand Hotels have recently announced. The Freehand Club has locations in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago and is offering a unique monthly membership for those who are still working remotely and have some flexibility.

For a monthly membership fee, you have access to any Freehand hotel and all their usual benefits such as speedy wifi, daily housekeeping, food and beverage discounts, in-room entertainment and streaming services, and a fitness center. So cancel that lease and sign up for a monthly membership and switch up your scenery for the next few months!

Use these new amenities to drive sales

These are just a handful of the new, creative features being integrated into hotels around the world. In addition to better safety measures with contactless and keyless technologies, these in-room amenities and entertainment options will surely help make your guests’ stay more comfortable and relaxing. Consider adding something new to help drive more bookings in 2021.

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of Seated magazine.

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