By Richard Valtr, founder of Mews (www.mews.com)
After two years of covid restrictions, travellers across the world had high hopes for their 2022 holidays, dubbed the period of revenge travel.
But, instead of longed-for trips, it’s been an extraordinarily difficult season for the travel industry, and problems only continue to grow.
Gatwick Airport has already forced airlines to cancel 4,000 flights this summer and for the third summer in a row, holidaymakers are being
forced to think carefully about their travel plans.
The travel sector’s crisis
Railway strikes, airport delays, flight cancellations, potential strike action by British Airways staff, and rising fuel prices are making holidays risky business for people desperate to get away.
This uncertainty, coupled with an increased pressure on household finances, means that many will be second-guessing splurging on a trip abroad. As they did in 2020 and 2021, many may turn to staycations or short trips within the UK. Whilst disappointing for travellers banking on a holiday abroad, this does present a fresh opportunity for hotels to attract new guests.
Taking the staycation to the hotel
Whether it’s doing a staycation at home, or holidaymakers opting for a week on the UK coast, hotels can tap into these groups of people by providing them with reasons to visit.
The easiest way to do this? Look at your additional bookable services. Hotels have plenty of facilities that can be booked by people who aren’t staying there, giving them that opportunity to feel like they’ve had a bit of luxury. Offering guest or day passes, kids clubs (where the hotel can offer babysitting services) and other subscription offers, which we have seen gaining traction.
Rather than just a one-time opportunity, this tactic can be used to drive repeat local custom. An affordable day pass could be a viable option for an individual or family looking for a weekend treat or a local day out. In addition, it might encourage people to use hotels as a venue whilst working from home. And while they may not require meeting rooms, co-working spaces or day-use rooms for a full week, using a hotel’s space as a getaway from a noisy house could be a strong revenue driver for suburban hotels.
Our own data shows there has already been a 55% monthly increase in the number of guests booking additional services at hotels such as spa or co-working facilities between March and June 2022.
Do more with what you already have
Firstly, opening spaces in hotels for meetings or co-working facilities allows for extra revenue to be generated without hoteliers needing to expand their space.
Secondly, offering unoccupied rooms as day-use ‘offices’ allows individual rooms to drive revenue for an entire day and night. With many people potentially stuck in the UK this summer, hotels could provide the perfect escape from regular life; be it a day’s work in a room to get away from children on school holidays, or a retreat to switch off from their day-to-day lives.
The key is having the right technology in place that allows you to carve up different offerings within the hotel, such as being able to easily sell blocks of time or access to individual spaces.
The long-term potential for hotels
This isn’t just for the summer. Hoteliers have an opportunity to capitalise on the ongoing shift away from office work in major cities and towns across the country. As companies begin to close or downsize office spaces, allowing for long-term remote and hybrid work, hotels can offer an affordable solution to these real estate challenges.
Rather than businesses renting an office for employees to gather, they might consider flexible additional services at hotels to gather employees in both professional and social settings.
We are at an inflection point for hospitality where new business models are emerging, and revenue streams are being created. Hoteliers must rethink the way they engage with guests through the products and services they provide beyond room nights in order to maximise the real estate they are operating. Key to this is new technology, which enables hoteliers to analyse a guest’s spend, allowing them to increasingly focus on providing the right services to make the best use of their space.
With many people facing a summer of travel discontent across the UK, this could provide the escape they need.