In mid-April 2021, CBS Sunday Morning produced an entire 90-minute episode on “The Future of Travel,” a topic very much on people’s minds these days as vaccinations begin to scale up in certain parts of the world. One of the pieces within the 90 minutes, about the travel industry itself’s approach to post-pandemic business, talked about a “Gray Wave” already happening. That means that elderly citizens (i.e. gray hair) tended to get vaccinated first, and they traveled almost as soon as the shot was out of the arm. A travel boom is coming, and that’s good for the hospitality industry, which largely had a miserable last 14 months (with some exceptions).
The sheer reality: 3 million workers globally (perhaps higher) are waiting for a job to return. But the problem is that the pandemic exposed some core issues in the hospitality business model, and you will increasingly see hospitality brands do more with fewer people. This doesn’t mean sacrificing amazing in-person experiences, no. The experiences will look different — for a while, there might be masks involved or sanitized areas — but people will still lead tours into savannahs and the like. Robots aren’t about to take over jungle expeditions.
You will see a focus on cost efficiency, safety, and bringing travelers and guests back into the fold in a similar, but slightly new way.
It’s about to be a different world for hospitality. What do you need to be thinking about, and how can Conectys help?
This is one of our core services, and while it’s probably the area where we can help the least around post-COVID hospitality brand-building, there are still some important points here.
First is that your website and all your social channels need to be very explicit about what’s being offered and what the various safety protocols are for what’s being offered in terms of rooms, tours, and the like. What do people need to know to feel safe? What information should they be able to access without calling you? All that needs to be moderated properly.
The second tier is that COVID, for better or worse, triggered a lot of different belief reactions in people. Some thought it was incredibly serious; some thought it was not. Businesses had to behave in a certain way, i.e. hotels mandating masks for check-in or areas around the elevator. Some people didn’t like these restrictions. They may have left a heated comment on your website, social, or within your forums. You need to be able to address those comments in a respectful way and refer back to protocol and science. If you leave a lot of negative comments dangling there, even if they’re fundamentally incorrect, future consumers might navigate to a different hospitality option.
Most of the moderation, in general, is about the intersection of safety and speed. Those will still be the two most important factors after COVID, no question. But right now it’s a bit more about safety. On your various channels that need to be moderated, you need to appear as a professional, highly secure brand focused on the safety of individuals, and you can’t let a negative voice chorus drown that out. It can be a tricky line to walk because some of these conversations feel political and get very heated, but you need to present a unified front as a brand around what you are offering and how those offerings are secure for those who plan to partake. The safety piece is driving content moderation right now.
Next up (next week): Robotic Process Automation (RPA), chatbots, and digital-first approaches as hospitality come back.