Hotels have been going through a necessary transformation during the pandemic that will position many of them to facilitate both digital and physical meetings in the future.
Here are some of the most significant trends transforming meetings in 2021.
Planning for Recovery
With mass distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine underway, hoteliers are optimistic about the industry’s recovery and how it’s already transforming meetings with virtual and contactless technology. Many lodging facilities are planning on getting back to normal activities by the third or fourth quarter.
Aiming for Sustainability
Sustainability has become the buzz word across all industries for business survival in the age of climate change and economic uncertainty. Hotels are increasingly adopting greener and less wasteful practices to cut costs and contribute to improving communities and guest expectations. Relying more on local suppliers such as farmers has helped cut shipping costs and provide fresher food.
Return to Physical Meetings
Some companies plan to conduct physical meetings while practicing social distancing in settings where sufficient space is available. Business trips have mainly been drive-to meetings within the local region during the past year, but fly-in meetings are expected to start again later in the year. While many hotels are set up for hybrid solutions, research shows hotels favor in-person gatherings.
Importance of New Technology
Travelers increasingly expect hotels to be equipped with digital solutions, particularly smart technology, that makes check-in and check-out easier. Embracing faster connectivity (with 5G) is one of the most important trends transforming hotels for the future. Businesses that support hybrid meetings favor booking hotels that invest in superior bandwidth and IT infrastructure to maximize coverage.
The coming year will showcase a wave of SMERF businesses that engage in social, military, educational, religious and fraternal activities. It’s advantageous for hotels to make adjustments to facilitate these groups that will play a major role in the recovery of the hospitality industry.
As a social distancing strategy, contactless technology has helped reduce health risks during the pandemic. This technology will likely stick around after the pandemic due to its usefulness for dining, thanks to virtual menus, QR codes and revised food and beverage policies, such as serving boxed fresh food.
Limits on Crowd Size
Each state and local jurisdiction has its own policies on crowd size gatherings during the pandemic, which generally has been around 10-15 people. Business meetings at hotels this year will likely remain small, although many large hotels surveyed by Benchmark say they are planning on events for 50-100 guests where space is available. Meanwhile, the average length of bookings for the year covers two days.
Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, a trend towards outdoor meetings in warmer months was developing. Outdoor meetings allow for better social distancing, which is why hotels have been making room for more outdoor space the past year. Lawns, beaches, restaurants, pool and terrace areas have been converted into space for business gatherings.
The traditional hotel environment has been modified to support trends transforming meetings in 2021. Learn about the latest hospitality trends with the California Lodging Investment Conference. Contact us today to find out how this virtual event explores hotel industry insights.