How much can the past inform the future? Prior to Covid, the hospitality industry relied on previous trends to plan ahead, but the past year (and a bit) flipped that formula on its head. However, it just so happens that res:harmonics’ blog series has been analysing the industry over (almost) the same period. Since June 2020, our 31 blogs have followed, evaluated and commented on the ebbs and flows of the innovative living world and for our approaching anniversary edition, we’ve decided to analyse the core themes and pick out the three key lessons for the next 12 months.
- Guest experience is more important than ever
As Covid struck, the industry mantra of ‘location, location, location’ morphed into ‘clean, clean, clean’. Accreditations were set up, heavy-touch surfaces removed and social distancing enforced, but over time this has become the norm. Now, guests expect contactless check-in and apps to control their housekeeping rota. Operators need to do more to stand out as guests return.
That’s where personalisation comes in. From pre-booking to post-checkout, operators have multiple touch points along the customer journey and each one should be sprinkled with that personal touch. Pre-stay, that could be sending bespoke quotes with tailored messaging and dazzling photos. Mid-stay, how about implementing an app that enables guests to connect their Spotify to the apartment speakers, set the blinds to open as their alarm goes off and also log and track maintenance issues? Post-stay, send regular communications with loyalty discounts and offers suited to their preferences.
- Flexibility is the future
Over the past year, flexibility was one of our core themes and for good reason. Whether it was local lockdowns or border closures, national curfews or curbs on socialising, restrictions were ever-changing across the world and flexibility enabled operators to ride the wave.
Length of stay (LOS) diversity was (and very much still is) a key strategy. The ability to offer units for three nights, 30 nights or 300 nights allowed operators to target specific guests, maximise occupancy and keep some revenue flowing in. Now, with the market opening up, operators can use this flexibility to pivot towards current demand and take advantage of seasonality (i.e. short-term summer lets and longer-term winter stays).
What’s more, it’s what guests want. Offering flexible pricing (the longer you stay, the less you pay), flexible contracts (month-long extensions or year-long tenancies) and flexible cancellation will encourage guests to book and enhance guest experience.
- Revenue management reigns supreme
Attract, enhance, retain, report. Given revenue is the essential lifeblood to most hospitality businesses, it’s no surprise we looked at revenue management from every angle.
From using a variety of channels (e.g. specialised short, medium and long stay OTAs) and enhancing direct booking to prioritising customers likely to travel and shouting about one’s benefits, we reflected on the best ways to attract revenue. We looked at methods to enhance revenue by embracing Space-as-a-Service (SPaaS) and monetising underutilised spaces in buildings. We examined strategies to retain revenue, such as giving customers the ability to easily extend stays at a discount, strengthening brand presence to solidify your reputation and using a digital CRM to personalise communication and build loyalty. We even delved deep into the importance of revenue reporting, showing operators how to use real-time data and dashboard reporting to analyse weekly guest trends, occupancy levels and the performance of booking channels.
The conclusion? With an array of new opportunities on the horizon, the operator that nails revenue management will be in the fast lane for growth.
Innovative tech unites them all
Perhaps the least surprising insight from our blog series is that innovative technology is the core theme that underpins all the others. Tech is now easier to use, more specific to operator needs and also a revenue-generator in its own right. Property Management Systems (PMS) are no longer just management tools, but responsive and scalable systems jam-packed with the latest integrations. Tech enables virtual viewing, enquiring, signing and even living through guest apps.
Whether you’re a coliving operator or Build-to-Rent manager, long-stay platform or short-stay provider, the year ahead needs tech more than ever.