A prescription for optimism

By June Seminario

Director Operations Support - IHG Americas 

Not too long ago we were talking about the prospects of a vaccine with a sense of optimism.

Vaccines are vital for the travel and hospitality businesses to return to normal.

The hotel industry has and will continue to evolve now and post pandemic. At IHG Hotels & Resorts, we are committed to meeting our guests’ expectations in the current environment. There was no playbook, we had to move fast to address challenges and adapt to change to keep people safe and our business strong. We are working diligently to do things right to ensure our guests, our people, and our industry comes out stronger than before.

Current hotel Occupancy and Average Daily Rate (ADR) in the United States are within points of reaching 2019 numbers. Many states and hotels are currently exceeding 2019 occupancy and rates due to the demand for summer leisure travel. The United States has reached a milestone RevPAR peak for 2021 at the end of June. We expect July and August to be our peak months for RevPAR (revenue per available room) compared to 2019, with slight moderations in September to the end of year. The rest of the world, with great optimism, will follow suit. We remain hopeful that the worst is behind us and the industry will not have to reconsider our approach to normal operations again.

The surge in occupancy has exceeded predictions and created challenges for the hotel industry. Hotel staffing levels have not returned to meet the demand for hotel rooms, resulting in vacant rooms that can’t be sold. Don’t be surprised if on your next hotel visit, the General Manager is the person checking you in while the Executive Housekeeper is cleaning your room. The lack of staff, along with supply chain challenges to procure required products, have contributed to declines in Guest Satisfaction across the industry. The expectations of leisure travelers are higher than ever before, while in contrast, they may receive elimination of daily room cleaning for stay-over guests, modified amenities, long lines for check-in and waits for clean rooms.

Since the pandemic, cleanliness expectations are forever changed. Fortunately, the IHG Way of Clean was already a standard for our hotels. To ensure our efforts were industry leading, we partnered with the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the Cleveland Clinic for any possible enhanced practices Hotels were clean before, but today’s guest expects to see visible signs of cleanliness. Expect to be offered a choice to opt-in or decline daily housekeeping services during your hotel stay. It looks like this practice will continue beyond the pandemic.

Digital check-in and check-out will become a standard expectation to limit contact and speed up the check-in process.

Hotel Loyalty programs are focused on marketing to loyal guests who traveled frequently and are looking for deals to travel again. Waiving cancellation fees has become another expectation.

The prescription for the future of the hospitality industry: keep traveling and keep smiling.

About June Seminario

June Seminario, Director Operations Support - IHG Americas, joined Skål International Philadelphia in 2003. She served on the Philadelphia Board in all positions from 2005 - 2014, finally served as President of Skål International Philadelphia for 3 terms 2009 - 2012.

She initiated Twinnings and friendship trips with Skål International Paris and Skål International Frankfurt, attended NASSC Congresses as SIUSA representative, attended 5 World Congresses and numerous Skål International friendship trips.