Your guests’ priorities are changing. How can you facilitate them?

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We’re certainly entering a different phase of living. Although we can’t say the pandemic is over just yet (as some people continue to anxiously await their vaccines and keep on top of news on variants) people still want to travel, still want to go on holiday. They’re feeling cautious, though. According to brand new research from Expedia Group, it looks as though consumers are feeling positive about vaccine passports, yet they’re continuing to look for reassurance in relation to safety and financial security.

Failte Ireland have also released their latest consumer update, which reveals people’s sense of caution surrounding travelling (apparently more caution than this time last year). Safety is a huge priority evidently, and it seems some travellers are waiting to be fully vaccinated before they book anymore trips – this aligns with Expedia’s research, which sees the rise in vaccinated populations coincide with more confidence in travel. According to Failte Ireland’s research, families remain key bookers of domestic travel, younger adults with no children are more likely to consider international trips (later in the year, and into 2022).

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Expedia’s research shows that 27% of travellers are considering international in the next year, (71% are comfortable showing a vaccine passport). As we all know, the pandemic has shaken us awake and made us more aware of what’s really important – and it’s reflective in Expedia’s research! More than a third of people said they’d trade a pay rise for more holiday days, and travel is at the top of their spending list this year.

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What do your guests want?

Hotels that reflect their values

We wrote a piece recently on the importance of implementing sustainable practises within your hotel, however small they may be. This is important of course for the environment, your surrounding community, and also for your guests. As Expedia’s research reveals, there are so many factors other than price that now influence a booker’s decision. Bookers are likely to make ‘value-based decisions that reflect their own personal views’ – in fact, 59% of people surveyed said they’re willing to pay higher fees in order to make their trip more sustainable.

Safety comes first

While vaccination programmes are ongoing (even beyond vaccinations, people will continue to be wary of variants) there’s a firm need for your safety messaging to be clear and to continue. Strict health and safety measures are here to stay, and it’s probably for the better! So, as well as undertaking advanced cleaning procedures, outline your health and safety policies on your website, have a clear link to this on your homepage. Continue to display your COVID-19 Safety Charter logo.

Booking flexibility and security

You will need to continue being understanding and flexible when it comes to your guests’ booking and cancellation needs. Ability to cancel for free will continue to be a normal expectation, not allowing this will lose you customers. Interestingly, the ability to get a full refund increases in value with age.

Enhancing their experience 

Think about how you can show people you’re giving them an extra bang for their buck – be creative and relevant with your enhancements. Match your enhancements within your various packages to target the right guests. The more specific the better, and it doesn’t need to be big things. It’s all about putting thought into it – how can you make your guests’ experience better?

As well as enhancements within packages, you can also enhance your guests’ experience by educating them about what they can do in your community and surrounding area. Given that 51% of travellers want to strive to learn about the community they’re in during their trip, it’s important to take this into account, not just for when international travel opens up, but also now on a smaller scale for your domestic customers too!

Leila Ryan, Group Revenue Manager of Neville Hotels says: ‘We have found that our guests’ expectations are rising, coinciding with the guests’ desire to have a high quality and well-earned break that they have been unable to have and have been looking forward to for so long. Guests are now extremely safety conscious and expect to see your safety protocols at every turn. Their safety is as much a priority as having a high quality meal or spa experience. Safety is definitely a part of a guest’s expectation and experience more so now than ever, and it’s important that we constantly evaluate how we can continue to deliver safe, high quality guest experiences.’

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