— How has Covid transformed the hospitality industry?
— This is a massive question, and needs to be divided into transformation of the industry and transformation of consumer behaviour, with that underlying reality that we are only now learning what the trues impact will be on both. The industry has been dealt a once in a century "gut punch" as there are not many people who can remember being forced to shut their business on force of imprisonment/fines, as well as having their market completely taken away in one single week..... Being in a western democracy, this would normally be unheard of, and trying to make sense of it, as well as the ramifications are still very difficult to decipher.
So, trying to do in fact that, what I can see is the following :
1. A rethink of hiring and training of staff, where hotels and restaurants will try to hire less people, but people with more of a higher skill level and who can be agile in the face of change - So, better staff, with a more entrepreneurial spirit.
2. A bigger focus on local and regional guests, with this also extending to F&B, with having a more balanced dependency on F&B and not just rooms. Membership will become an increasingly important part of hotels and restaurants as membership fees are more resilient to global events, and international tourism is now a luxury and not a given - The hotels with just tour groups have been the hardest hit, with no clear site of recovery.
3. Space; people now want even more privacy and space and will pay for it, so hotels that are smaller and more unique with things like private beach, rooftop and garden will be able to charge significantly more that other hotels without these attributes.
4. Bigger travel budgets: This one is more controversial and something I believe in and may note be broadly supported, but it appears that travel is now much more uncomfortable and challenging, so when people take the effort to travel and take time away, they seem to be willing and also wanting, to spend more on the actual stay and on experiences that come with this. There are psychologists stating that also after global catastrophies, people tend to want to either stay in their "cave" protected at home, but when they leave, want to live life to the fullest.... so the old saying "Go big or go home" resonates after events such as this.