With September now upon us, and provincial governments working to ensure a safe and imminent return to school for children, the hospitality industry prepares for what’s next on the horizon.
Over the summer months, hoteliers have worked collaboratively and creatively to prepare their hotels for the safe return of guests. But travel, for the most part, has been minimal, with the exception of domestic and local business — the majority of which has come in the form of car travel. But, with the spectre of another wave of COVID-19 looming over all of us, and some regions of the world already starting to see spikes in numbers of COVID-19 infections after re-openings, there’s a ton of speculation as to how hotels will fare in the fall and into the winter season.
This month’s Hospitality Market Report, written by industry analyst CBRE (see story on p.13) tries to make as much sense as possible of what has been a very non-sensical year. While some hotels have managed to stay afloat, and are thankful for that reality, many others have experienced closures or watched as occupancies and room ADRs plummet through no fault of their own. And, while the short summer season, has been somewhat salvaged by a surge in domestic travel, with occupancy rates of 40 per cent now being viewed as solid, up from single digit numbers in the early days, unfortunately, travel is still up in the air and clearly consumers are skittish.
According to a recent survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the fall season looks to be equally as challenging, with only one-third of frequent travellers (33 per cent) expecting their next hotel stay to be within the next three months, 18 per cent within three to six months and 25 per cent in six to 12 months.
While uncertainty is a pervasive theme everywhere these days, this too shall pass. But until it does, it’s clear consumers’ number-1 priority is safety, a trend substantiated by the above survey, which found that a number of improvements to health-and-sanitation protocols at U.S. hotels would have considerable impact on guests’ comfort levels staying there.
In fact, the top-three precautionary priorities that would make guests feel safer included face coverings for employees (87 per cent a lot/some impact) and guests (85 per cent), suspending daily housekeeping of rooms (86 per cent) and utilizing technology to reduce direct contact (85 per cent).