Health and safety have always been important to travelers; however, today, during and post-pandemic, this has now become the number one buying objective for both customers and guests. What may be the most interesting (and challenging for hoteliers to execute) is that customers are defining their service experience with perhaps minimal if not zero interaction with hotel team members.
The sales experts at Jacaruso Enterprises, a hotel sales support service that provides remote Director of Sales coverage for hotels, have found that everything about how hotels sell their services has changed more in the last 100 days then it has in the last 100 years! From Luxury hotels to Limited Service hotels, no one is exempt from the devastation of COVID-19. Through change comes innovation, and hotels are developing solutions to meet and exceed customer’s expectations. Our partners at Hilton, Marriott, Choice, Radisson, Wyndham, and IHG are implementing new health and safety standards to accelerate trust with customers. All hotel brands and products are faced with the question of; How to exceed customer expectations without the normal “hospitality” interaction?
Communication will be at the forefront of reducing guest anxiety. There is no such thing as “over-communication” when it comes to the safety and sanitation protocols during and post-pandemic. We have found the first key to success is ensuring that guests know exactly what to expect throughout their stay at a hotel. The hotel should also provide a transparent active demonstration of cleaning protocols and procedures that is highly visible throughout the hotel, within their online descriptions and in any written and verbal communication with guests, including signage throughout the property.
What does this mean for hotel buffets? Hotels will need to innovate and be creative in their unique solutions. From hotel breakfast bars to full-blown Vegas-style buffets, the customer experience will most definitely look different. Over the past 120 days, Jacaruso Enterprises has helped hotels develop solutions with social distancing and safety in mind. The days of self-serve waffle stations, plastic bins of cereals, and elegant chafing dishes, with various choices may very well be a thing of the past. While most hotels have discontinued buffets, there is a focus on providing guests options. What do these options look like? For hotels with on-site options like breakfast buffets, evening receptions, and pantry or shop, some of the ways these hotels are reacting include: grab-and-go upgraded choices such as coffee, snacks, and even prepackaged breakfast and beverage options available on-site for purchase or through contactless preordering and delivery service. Some hotels are also going so far as getting gift cards to local establishments with drive-through options for customers that are not yet comfortable purchasing food and beverage on-site. Hotels that offer a full-out buffet are reducing capacity in their dining rooms and replacing lines of chafing dishes with similar menu options that may be ordered and served family-style. These are just a few of the ways you may be dining out (or in) in the future.
One thing is for sure that while things are changing, guests will always be the focus of hospitality and the industry will evolve to accommodate and make positive guest experiences.
Toni Jacaruso is the CEO of Jacaruso Enterprises Inc. The company provides remote hotel sales services and virtual learning on navigating COVID-19 to more than 800 hotels in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Latin America.
To learn more about communication with guests and customers in this environment, visit www.Jacaruso.com for more information.