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Have Vaccine Will Travel

Have Vaccine Will Travel

 

Have Vaccine Will Travel

By Larry Mogelonsky, MBA, P. Eng. (www.hotelmogel.com)

By now, we’re all familiar with the implications of ‘revenge travel’ and how it may cause a surge of travelers in the coming months and into the winter of 2021. But this won’t be an evenly distributed swell for all markets and it’s critical you stay on top of the news so that you can anticipate when revenge travel will hit your local territory.

First, let’s cover the psychology behind the title and the concept of revenge travel. Essentially, this is akin to static electricity where all that friction of being locked up at home – and now combined with a diminishing fear of COVID-19 following vaccine-driven herd immunity – will eventually discharge, with the most prevalent example being a lightning bolt. Nothing is this built-up greater felt than in the elderly demographics who were especially vulnerable to the virus and thus spent the better part of last year completely shut off from in-person socialization.

Whether someone was a frequent flyer or not prior to the pandemic, the general malaise of last year has left people stir-crazy and others with a YOLO (you only live once) or FOMO (fear of missing out) attitude. To elaborate on the latter, the rapidity with which borders were shut in March 2020 has shown just how fragile international and regional travel is. With fears of Covid variants and prophecies about future flu-like viruses, it’s easy for one to assume the worst. “It could happen again, and therefore I must take advantage of the reopening lest I miss out,” as many might think to themselves.

The proper scientific term for this is ‘mortality salience’ whereby events that call into question our own impermanence on this planet tend to cause us to live more in the moment. As it relates to Covid, this effect has already been well-documented. At least temporarily, people are expected to dine out more, go to bars more often and splurge on their next trip.

It’s your job as hoteliers to meet these ever-mercurial shifts in traveler behavior so that you aren’t left out of the money – that being either unable to staff up for full occupancy without serious guest service issues or not effectively enabling upselling opportunities to maximize TRevPAR.

So, the veiled angst of mortality salience combined with the emboldening nature of the ever-widening reach of the vaccines may result in a travel mania for certain territories, which can in turn create a host of other problems. Besides perusing your own weekly pick up and pace reports, there are some telltale national and international markers for when we can expect widespread travel to resume, all so that you can pivot accordingly.

Some markers and other near-term scenarios include:

  • Drive-to resorts feeding off urban markets will be first to benefit from the glut of travelers, but at the early stages of recovery there will still be a lot of trepidation, resulting in an excess of incoming calls (that is, measure the uptick in call volume as an early warning sign) asking about Covid safety procedures and a lot of money left on the table as guests will be confused over which onsite amenities are open
  • Much has already been discussed regarding the boomer blip as this senior generation has been prioritized for vaccination and thus first out the gate, meaning that certain high demand hospitality providers (hotels or cruises) will be overwhelmed while others who haven’t pivoted operations to cater to this interregnum will be left out of the money
  • Disneyland confirms its reopening date (now April 30th) and every hotel in Orange County is flooded with new guest inquiries, creating a log jam for hotels, restaurants, parking lots, labor, beaches and all manner of municipal infrastructure
  • IATA announces new EU-US flight routes and OTA traffic jumps 1,000% overnight, with hotels in key urban markets selling out at the still-discounted, mid-pandemic rates before they are able to adjust rates to keep pace with demand or set up proper upselling technologies to help convert standard room buyers into suite purchasers
  • Broadway announces its recommencement plan and all of Midtown Manhattan starts to go up by 10 points in occupancy week over week, with an adverse effect being an inability to balance guest revenues with increasing labor requirements, especially given many hotels’ ongoing renegotiations with local unions
  • In a first-past-the-post manner, a Caribbean or Central American country announces a border reopening following an intensive vaccination campaign, with vacationers spurring at the chance to revisit the first tropical destination available to them and leaving other nations vying for the ho-hum second place after the reopening luster has dissipated
  • The groups segment, as represented chiefly by wedding receptions, family reunions and small corporate meetings, picks up far ahead of what was previously anticipated (because by now we all hate videoconferencing), with many hotels left unprepared in terms of adjusting operations and packaging or with a still depleted salesforce that cannot respond to RFPs quickly enough, together incentivizing the business to go to competitor hotels or vacation rental properties
  • While hotels catering to small groups will prosper under the new hub-and-spoke model, be on the lookout for large-gathering announcements, including conventions and music festivals, with travelers eager to partake in such grand events, which will lead to serious compression given all the lost inventory throughout the pandemic
  • In contrast to all the signs of optimism above, you must also be on the lookout for any news related to Covid variants that vaccinations cannot protect against, as even a whiff of a new threat of this magnitude could cause a precipitous drop in occupancy

The overall theme from this should be that tourism will favor the early movers and that might result in a series of percussive waves of travelers to each individual territory as they are given the greenlight for safe travel. Saying that people like what’s new is nothing new, after all, and this may result in a broad behavioral pattern of chasing the next big thing.

Importantly, for a singular hotel or multi-property brand, this can mean missing a very lucrative opportunity for revenues – much needed to make up for the dumpster fire that was 2020 – as management teams are left unprepared for the onslaught of new guests. As per the previous mention of TRevPAR, this pertains not just for room reservations and occupancy but ensuring that all your other revenue streams are fully accessible and ready to roar in order to capture as much revenue per guest as is possible. An easy example of this would be to ensure your hours of operation for your restaurant and spa are fully up to date across all channels so that guests know they are available for bookings.

In other words, the time to start ramping up operations and building a great tech stack so your employees can do more with less was yesterday. Even if you believe you are ready to handle a 50% increase in occupancy within six weeks’ time, you must still workshop scenarios with the executive committee to see how a phased and asymmetrical loosening of global travel restrictions may cause a whole slew of new problems.

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Larry Mogelonsky
About Larry Mogelsonsky

One of the world’s most published writers in hospitality, Larry Mogelonsky is the principal of Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited, a Toronto-based consulting practice. His experience encompasses hotel properties around the world, both branded and independent, and ranging from luxury and boutique to select-service. Larry is also on several boards for companies focused on hotel technology. His work includes five books “Are You an Ostrich or a Llama?” (2012), “Llamas Rule” (2013), “Hotel Llama” (2015), “The Llama is Inn” (2017) and “The Hotel Mogel” (2018). You can reach Larry at larry@hotelmogel.com to discuss hotel business challenges or to book speaking engagements.

 

 

Media Contact:

Larry Mogelonsky

HotelMogel Consulting Limited

Email: larry@hotelmogel.com

 

Website: http://hotelmogel.com/

Larry Mogelonsky
About Larry Mogelsonsky

One of the world’s most published writers in hospitality, Larry Mogelonsky is the principal of Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited, a Toronto-based consulting practice. His experience encompasses hotel properties around the world, both branded and independent, and ranging from luxury and boutique to select-service. Larry is also on several boards for companies focused on hotel technology. His work includes five books “Are You an Ostrich or a Llama?” (2012), “Llamas Rule” (2013), “Hotel Llama” (2015), “The Llama is Inn” (2017) and “The Hotel Mogel” (2018). You can reach Larry at larry@hotelmogel.com to discuss hotel business challenges or to book speaking engagements.

 

 

Media Contact:

Larry Mogelonsky

HotelMogel Consulting Limited

Email: larry@hotelmogel.com

 

Website: http://hotelmogel.com/

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