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Research from Oracle Hospitality and Skift Frames Technology’s Role in Recovery

Laura Calin
Vice President, Strategy and Solutions Management, Oracle Hospitality

A new global study, A Data-Driven Look at Hospitality’s Recovery, surveyed more than 1,800 hotel executives and 4,600 consumers to understand how their evolving expectations and actions are shaping the travel and hospitality industry.

Jointly published by Oracle Hospitality and travel industry research firm Skift, the study sheds light on a range of issues surrounding COVID-19, including consumer travel behavior fueling a rebound and emerging best practices in areas such as guest and employee health safety, contactless operations, and technology innovations that will be needed to satisfy changing guest expectations.

The report, which explores consumer and executive sentiments across North America, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and Latin America, also underscores that the recovery likely will occur at an uneven pace. For example, the closure of international borders and consumer apprehension about flying likely will favor markets with a greater dependence on domestic travelers. According to the study, 57% of North American hotels reported “the greatest majority of our guests prior to COVID-19 were domestic travelers.” The responses of other regional hoteliers: Europe, 38%; Asia-Pacific, 29%, and Latin America, 21%.

Among the report’s key findings:

Recovery outlook

When operators were asked “How long will it take for your company’s business to recover to the level of booking seen prior to COVID-19?” Forty-four percent said it would take between 9 to 18 months. Such expectations of a gradual upswing were supported recently by Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott, who said during the company’s Q1 earnings call, “The glimmer of good news is negative trends appear to have bottomed in most regions in the world.”

On-property experience

Consumers were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: “When I travel again, I would be more likely to stay in a hotel offering self-service technology that minimizes contact with staff.” Seventy percent of travelers viewed such technology favorably. Hotel executives responded similarly, expressing growing recognition of the importance of self-service technology. In fact, 81% said they are considering or already offering contactless payment at their properties.

Booking and distribution

The fluid environment for demand requires hoteliers to reexamine their booking strategy. It’s important to note consumers’ priorities; for example, three quarters of travelers said they would be more likely to book a room with a hotel that offers a flexible cancellation and refund policy. And 52% said they wanted hotels to remove minimum-stay requirements.

Employee experience

Seventy percent or more of hotel executives said they are considering or already establishing proactive COVID-19 protocols, such as conducting regular temperature checks of employees, capping on-property staffing levels at any given time, and enforcing social distancing. In addition, 64% said they already have created a retraining program or were currently developing one to help furloughed staff transition back to work.

Viewed collectively, the research makes one point clear: Recovery hinges on hoteliers’ agility to quickly modify all facets of operations – from implementing health and safety practices to overseeing revenue management – in a volatile business environment. Such needs prioritize an investment in cloud platforms, which greatly enhance the adoption of mobile, self-service, and business-automation technologies.

In our continuing effort to accelerate the pace of recovery, Oracle Hospitality also has developed the Technology Guide for a Touchless Guest Journey. Converting the research findings into an actionable plan, the playbook provides guidance for executing a contactless strategy, covering topics such as integration challenges, technology budgeting, and advice to differentiate offerings with emerging technology. It’s all part of our commitment to help you prepare for the “new next.”

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