With COVID19 making a massive impact not only on the world stage but on the travel industry, in particular, hotels have had to re-think the ways in which they do business. I recently had the opportunity to speak with industry expert Pam Knudsen, Senior Director of Compliance at Avalara MyLodgeTax, about the current state of the hotel industry and her predictions about the changes we will see long after COVID is a memory.
- HOTELS HAVE GONE DIGITAL
In an effort to promote safety, Hotels have reduced the number of shared touchpoints for all their guests. They have invested heavily in apps to carry out functions such as a) controlling the TV in your room, b) ordering from the room service menu with scannable QR codes, c) digital concierges and d) streamlined app-based payment systems. Voice-activated controls are another new way to reduce possible transmission points.
2. THE BUFFET IS DEAD (ALONG WITH MANY SHARED SPACES)
By making custom ordering easy with an app, there is no need for food to stand out in a room many people are traversing. Hotels are reducing areas where people congregate in large numbers in general, so adding shared food service to that mixture is increasingly unlikely.
Travelers will also have to schedule their pool time and workout times for the foreseeable future to limit capacity in those shared areas.
3. FEWER STAFF AND FEWER IN-PERSON INTERACTIONS
You can expect fewer face-to-face interactions, from automated check-in and check-out options to limited housekeeping to reduce the chance for person-to-person viral transmission, you will simply not see as many individuals on staff as you used to.
4. EASY-TO-CLEAN SURFACES
Say goodbye to carpet, shower curtains, and those weird half-bedspreads on the end of your bed. Hotels want to be able to thoroughly clean and sanitize after every guest. That means more glass shower doors and fewer germ-catching rugs and bed skirts.
5. MORE LONG-TERM, WORK-FRIENDLY ROOMS
Embrace the kitchenette and the mini-suite that is as comfortable for work as it is for sleep. Knudsen says, “We’ll see many more rooms outfitted for extended stay, with a functional kitchen and stand-alone living/work area, as more travelers decide to venture out and work remotely from their lodging destination.” Hotels are making significant investments in refurbishing and making their rooms work-friendly in order to attract both the corporate traveler and those who the pandemic has freed forever from the cubicle. If you truly can work from anywhere, why not work from a destination that includes amenities your home doesn’t have for when the workday is done? You can vacation in the evening without missing a day of work!
Pam Knudsen is Senior Director of Compliance at Avalara MyLodgeTax, leading the lodging tax team and returns experience/reconciliation team for sales and use. She serves as a leading voice in vacation rental tax compliance and regulation, in addition to bringing in-depth experience across software/SaaS technology as well as ERP systems. Knudsen joined Avalara in 2012.
Photos provided by Pam Knudsen, Avalara MyLodgeTax, Jennifer Latuperisa-Andresen, Nathan Dumlao, Nguyan Dang Houang Nhu, and Matthew Sichkaruk on Unsplash