In a fascinating session, hosted by our group CEO, Roger Allen, at the Resort & Residential Hospitality Forum 2021, a panel of the hospitality industry’s top CEO’s talk about optimism in the industry, reflect on the key lessons learnt during the pandemic and how they see this new normal shaping their future business strategies. Below we have covered some of the highlights.

The panel:

State of the Hospitality Industry

  • All the CEO’s reported better than expected performance with the easing of the pandemic restrictions. Noticeably, whilst occupancy rates were not back to pre-pandemic levels, there was a significant increase in ADR as guests were willing to spend more on experiences.
  • There is a real consumer appetite to travel, and a huge recovery is expected in 2022. Once routes and airports are back to being fully operational, the CEO’s expect it to be a golden period for European leisure.
  • Labour shortages remains one of the industry’s biggest issues and they still need to work out how to appeal to a new generation who want more flexible working patterns and a better work/life balance. Staff engagement will also be key and an industry reliance on unappealing seasonal contracts need to be addressed.
  • The Data is starting to show that MICE is returning in 2022 and it is most likely to be focused on small to medium sized events. The ability to host in larger spaces will be an important selling point as maintaining social distancing will still be seen as a significant consideration when choosing a venue.

Consumer Behaviour

  • The season has been extended as more consumers are travelling in the shoulder season; looking to avoid overcrowded peak times.
  •  New customer behaviour could help with the traditional seasonality issues as holidays are being spread throughout the year; with shorter trips being taken more often. 
  • The booking window has become closer and shorter with flexibility on cancellation polices a crucial selling point.
  •  The acceleration in customer’s digital habits has seen a huge increase in online bookings. This has translated into direct bookings and been hastened by the disappearance of OTA’s, travel agents and airlines during the pandemic. It has meant that the hotels have had to rely on capturing their customer’s direct and have invested in tech accordingly. The future is seen as digital as clients will want to be able to manage everything about their experience on their mobile phone.

Future Strategies.

  • The huge domestic demand, with robust ADR, during the pandemic proved that this is a source market that needs to be continued to be cultivated. Correct messaging, rewarding loyalty, CRM and individual experiences are seen as the tools to keep this market alive.
  •  A customisable pricing strategy based on demand will be fundamental going forward and investing in the right software tool will help you make these decisions more effectively. However, blindly following the software is not everything, it is important to have a policy and strategy (e.g. to protect your ADR or protect your occupancy) behind the software.
  •  Sustainability is no longer a choice, it is now a commodity.

 Leadership Lessons from our CEO’s

  • Engagement and communication with staff even in the hard times, was agreed as one of the important leadership lessons learnt during the pandemic. Respecting your people and taking the time to explain to them when you make difficult decisions helps create an engaged culture and a loyal workforce.
  • Secondly, also spending the time to build the right relationship with your shareholders meant that important decisions can be made in short timeframes, when required.
  • Finally, we will end on the wise words of Jordi Ferrer Graupera, about also taking the time to reflect on the positives, even during those times of crisis. He mentioned his highlight, during the pandemic, was using the time to develop new concepts and refine their experiences which, are now starting to see future rewards.

 A summary video is available at Hospitality Insights titled: In Focus: Leisure led the return at R&R.

Photos courtesy of Simon Callaghan Photography.

 

 

 

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