Summer is around the corner and with it the ubiquitous summer vacation. While things will still look a little different this year, a boon of guests is expected. Summer is still months away, and yet vacationers are already planning their trips to fulfill what they’ve been dreaming about.
Whereas normally travel bookings are made on average one to two months in advance, this year the trend is several months in advance with many tourism operators already booking into summer. Is your hotel ready? Keep reading to discover the forecasted travel trends plus a handy checklist to get your hotel in order.
Summer 2021 Travel Trends for Hotels
Pandemic Travel Trends Continue
According to Vice, as the summer sees more people willing to travel, their reasons for travel are in line with current pandemic travel trends, which include seeking a change of scenery, taking advantage of discounted travel, and regional staycation travel. Some will travel further afield but only by road vehicle within their own country, especially to warm locations offering outdoor adventures like canoeing and hiking.
For hotels, this means building off larger Pandemic Travel Trends for 2021, then zeroing in on summer-specific initiatives.
⬜ To do: Consider Pandemic Travel Trends for 2021 and zero in on summer-specific initiatives.
Travel Priorities Differ Between Generations
Different generations are booking summer vacations for different reasons. Will your property fit the bill? Cater your property—and your marketing—accordingly. Whether your hotel can accommodate the interests of various generations or certain segments only, use short-term marketing strategies aimed at each group to bring them in this summer.
>>Seniors: According to the New York Times, senior-rate bookings are up 50-60 percent in the United States as those in the 65-plus age group have received their vaccines. With this generation, upsell is the keyword. Senior travelers look to treat themselves, enjoy luxury and perks over discounts, and are interested in add-on tourism packages that make their stay complete. Here’s a handy checklist to ensure you’re Baby Boomer ready.
>>Millennials and Gen Z: These two generations were known as avid travelers before the pandemic and, as vaccines roll out, are expected to return to their traveling ways in droves. In their early 20s and 30s, these travelers seek adventure in warm, outdoorsy, and Instagrammable destinations at any time, but especially during the pandemic. They may or may not yet be vaccinated and are seeking safe activities that include exploring the great outdoors for hikes and picnics.
>>Gen X: In their late 30s and early 50s, Gen X’ers will seek family vacations this summer. This group just needs a break, as they’ve been juggling jobs and pandemic homeschooling. Family package deals, or interesting perks like outdoor marshmallow roasting, will attract this generation who wants a change of scenery and routine more than anything. You needn’t look far for these guests either as they are not looking to travel far right now as staycations in their own town make life easy.
⬜ To do: Develop short-term marketing strategies to cater to various generational guests.
Pandemic Health & Safety Still A Concern
Standards developed during the pandemic will persist this summer and beyond. According to Expedia, 83% of travelers now expect regular deep-cleaning and disinfecting as the norm, and information about safety measures must be readily available for guests.
Digital Marketing is Essential
The pandemic has made reliance on digital greater than ever, and this rings true for your hotel’s marketing efforts, too. With guests spending even more time online, meet them where they are with digital ads, emails, SMS, and updated OTA profiles. With all the effort to bring guests to your website, ensure it is up to date, mobile-friendly, and features a robust booking engine.
⬜ To do: Keep on top of all your hotel marketing with this digital checklist.
Flexible Cancellation Policies
In addition to a robust, online booking engine, hotels must remain agile with their cancellation policies. Media Solutions found that 53% of travelers are more likely to book if a full cancelation policy is in place, and this is especially true for Gen Z and Millennial travelers. Expedia reports that in 2020, hotels that offered refundable rates were booked 10% more often than those without. Guests need to feel secure at the time of booking that they can cancel at any time, especially with ever-changing government regulations regarding the pandemic, or for reasons of personal illness, too.
⬜ To do: Update your cancellation policies for flexibility and communicate this through various channels, including email, your property’s website, and your online booking engine. This blog post can help you manage your reservations during Covid-19.
Personal contact is a touchy subject these days and contactless technologies are moving from a nice-to-have to a necessity for this summer and beyond. Contactless hotel check-ins are not only easy to implement but provide a simple and seamless approach that will have you wondering why your hotel hadn’t already implemented it. Guests are beginning to expect keyless entry more and more as well with Bluetooth tech that gives guests room access via smartphones. Keep ancillary transactions touch-free with POS and PMS integration. But remember, it’s just as important to nurture the human touch in a touch-free world through your virtual communications.
⬜ To do: Reach out to your PMS provider for assistance in implementing contactless check-ins, keyless entry, and POS integration.
Keep on Top of OTAs and Reviews
Did you know that nearly 75% of travelers read reviews before booking a hotel (source: Expedia)? Reviews crop up on social media, Google, Yelp, and OTAs. If you’re not regularly responding to reviews, it’s a good idea to add this task to your workflow since 80% of travelers believe that unanswered negative reviews are true.
⬜ To do: Monitor and respond to your hotel reviews in one spot with a platform like Revinate or BlueJay Reviews. Update your OTA profiles with updated images and text that speak to pandemic concerns, such as cleanliness and other protocols.
As hoteliers and those in the tourism industry, we’re in a unique position to bring joy to people’s lives now more than ever. Guests have been longing to travel and experience the world again with fresh eyes, even within their local areas. So enjoy your summer! Because those smiles you’re sure to see on your guests’ faces during their holidays will be in large part because of you. And that is what hospitality is all about.