Two new surveys from Deloitte and SevenRooms paint a picture of how guest demands are changing in the wake of the pandemic and travel shutdown—and what hoteliers need to do in order to keep guests happy and ready to return.
To track how guest preferences have shifted, hospitality technology company SevenRooms commissioned a follow-up to its "2019 Checking in for Hotel F&B" report to compare sentiment.
The company’s latest report, "Beyond the Booking: Meeting & Exceeding Hotel Guest Expectations," examines what is driving Americans to stay at hotels and how attitudes have changed. Notably, the report found almost half (46 percent) of Americans would be open to booking a hotel—under the right circumstances.
The report found that guests will only book at hotels offering several health- and safety-related services. For example, one in three (34 percent) said they were “more inclined” to book at hotels operating at a reduced guest capacity. Thirty percent said they would stay a property offering health screenings for guests upon arrival, while 41 percent would stay at a property offering pre-stay communications related to health and safety measures. Contactless technology, however, only appealed to 20 percent of survey respondents.
The report also uncovered several deal breakers. For example, 67 percent said they would end their stay early if hotel staff and servers look or sound ill. Sixty-three percent said they would leave if a hotel is too crowded and does not enforce social distancing, and the same number of people said they would leave if the hotel staff and servers are not required to wear masks. More than half—58 percent—said hotel guests that look and/or sound ill would drive them away, while 55 percent said they would not stay in a property where all guests were not required to wear masks.
Twenty percent of respondents said they would book a hotel if they got a deal or promotion for hotel dining or entertainment. “Incentives still go a long way in getting guests to make a booking, especially when guests are uncertain,” the report noted.
The growth of leisure demand against business travel means Americans planning to stay at a hotel would most likely book for an upcoming vacation or out-of-town trip (36 percent), a celebration of a life event (25 percent), a work trip (21 percent) or a staycation (21 percent).
Food and Beverage
The SevenRooms report also found that F&B perks–while not as high as pre-COVID times–still go a long way with Americans, as shown in the chart below.
In that F&B vein, a new survey from Deloitte, "The Restaurant of the Future Arrives Ahead of Schedule—Time to Get on Board," suggests that convenience and safety remain top-of-mind for F&B programming.
Consumers demand efficiency now more than ever: Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of respondents cite convenience as the main reason they visit a restaurant.
Since COVID-19, delivery and takeout orders have continued to increase, up 14 percent, to 68 percent and 52 percent, respectively, for consumers ordering once a month or more, driving restaurants to rethink their physical footprints. Consumers demand a frictionless digital experience, with 70 percent of respondents prefering to place their delivery orders online. As safety concerns continue, 71 percent of consumers are requesting contactless delivery from restaurants.
Almost two-thirds (62 percent) of customers are willing to pick up food from a location other than the restaurant itself, like a delivery hub. In addition, 44 percent of consumers would order delivery of uncooked meals they finish preparing at home.
As restaurants look to appeal to the digital experience, they may leverage technologies like driverless or drone delivery, which 40 percent of consumers would consider for delivery of their food. Additionally, ghost kitchens are rising in popularity as more than half (56 percent) are willing to order from a restaurant without a customer-facing storefront. Regardless of the channel, restaurants will have to present a cohesive but contextual digital experience to keep customers engaged.
“COVID-19 has challenged restaurants by temporarily closing dining rooms, but it has also provided the industry the chance to seek out new opportunities to engage customers,” said Jean Chick, principal, Deloitte Consulting and U.S. restaurant and food service leader. “Even before the pandemic, consumers were increasing their demands for convenience and digital engagement. Now more than ever, the ball is in each restaurant’s court. What they do to respond will shape the future of each brand. Restaurants that emerge from this unplanned inflection point in the industry’s history will be set up to provide a new standard in customer convenience, responsiveness, and safety that can pay off long after the tumult of this pandemic is over.”
But whether opting for dine-in service, takeout or delivery, cleanliness and safety are top priorities for consumers. As a result, 87 percent of consumers expect surfaces be cleaned after each use.
The report also suggests that knowing the safety precautions restaurants are taking may not be enough: 85 percent of consumers want to actually see the cleaning take place. Protocols like wearing of gloves by employees, constant cleaning of tables and other common surfaces and the use of plexiglass shields don’t just promote safety and cleanliness—they signal to the diner how seriously management takes that responsibility. Four out of five people said they are more likely to patronize a restaurant if they knew what steps it was taking to enhance cleanliness, food safety or guest safety and, as a result, would be willing to pay an average of 10 percent more. This puts a premium on communication because frequent diners are more likely (56 percent) to trust a brand’s website than an occasional customer (43 percent).