At the end of 2019, event organizers, hoteliers, and destination marketers were looking for ideas to solve the hotel block conundrum. What a difference six months makes. Now, as 2020 nears its third quarter, the industry is looking for signs that attendees may be willing to book any room — inside or outside the block — again. The timing around when large meetings and conferences will return may be uncertain, but one fact is not: The hotel experience is going to look much different, if my recent stay at several Denver-area hotels is any indication.
A Contactless — And Cheaper — Way to Check In
Hoteliers have been trying to motivate guests to download their mobile apps for years, but old habits — talking to a human at the reception desk, for example — have been hard to break. The post-pandemic era, though, seems poised to motivate guests to install those apps to avoid face-to-face contact. Some properties are already leveraging mobile usage to entice guests. For example, Marriott’s Moxy in Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood gave me an offer to save money in exchange for skipping the physical interaction: Use a mobile key (only available via the app) and save 10 percent on my stay.
The offer is a win-win: Customers save money, and Marriott gets the long-term benefit of helping customers grow more accustomed to mobile check-ins.
The Gym … Delivered to the Door
Employees aren’t the only people that guests may want to avoid in order to limit their exposure to the virus. They will also be concerned about how to stay in shape without getting close to sweaty, huffing and puffing fellow guests during their workouts. In May, The Oxford Hotel in Denver embraced the shift in fitness and offered a gym experience package that included an in-room personal Peloton bike.
There are already plenty of Peloton machines at hotels around the country, but many of them are located in group gyms — for now. Expect more bikes and other exercise equipment to be reserved for individual use.
The Minibar Makes an Exit
It won’t be as easy to erase the positive impact of that workout as there will no longer be $5 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or other tempting snacks stocked in the minibar. As hotels look to limit anyone touching anything, minibar products are nowhere to be found. Don’t expect them to return anytime soon, either. Major hotel brands are partnering with medical experts for updates to their cleanliness standards, which include hospital-grade disinfectants on all surfaces and the elimination of as many unnecessary surfaces — bags of chips and bottles of wine for purchase seem to fall in that category — as possible.
Are you trying to work with a hotel for an upcoming meeting you may need to postpone due to the pandemic? Check out “Working Together With Hotels During COVID-19 From a Legal Perspective” for some helpful tips.
David McMillin is an associate editor at Convene.