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(by Emma Collins)

What has been an income haven for hotels and other resorts has become challenging this New Years’ 2021. Before the pandemic, tourists have had to book in advance for a holiday booking — just not this year.

The holidays are upon us and hotels still have empty rooms. Even the most popular hotels have yet to fill in even a fraction of their usual bookings compared to previous years. 

Be it in a ship-to-shore party at Bali or a New Year’s Eve celebration at Monte Carlo, celebrating New Year’s Eve in hotels has now become an afterthought.

A loss so Debilitating

This year’s coronavirus outbreak has been the worst year in aviation history. As of June 2020, a financial outlook by International Air Transport Association (IATA) shows a total loss amounting to $84.3 billion by airlines. 

Just as fast as the coronavirus swept globally, unemployment surged to 11.2 percent compared to 3.8 percent last year. As the country with the biggest tourism revenue loss, the United States has been severely affected by the outbreak. 

However hotels would be celebrating New Years in 2021, they must act now as money is draining — fast.

With refunds left, right, and center, the travel industry must find ways to recover and survive.

A Pent-Up Desire to Travel

Nobody likes being cooped up at home. Traveling has a liberating feel to it. Even those who like being at home want to be in an unfamiliar environment once in a while. 

But when the risks of traveling far outweigh the benefits, making a decision is not difficult. 

This year is coming to a close and the travel industry has become more optimistic. Vaccine trials are looking up as pharmaceutical companies are positive that they can beat the coronavirus. 

No business is completely pandemic-proof. However, some businesses thrive more than others even in the travel industry. Hotels must think of truly innovative ways to create new and more stable sources of income.

A Double Look at Strategies

When other people see hardships, those who are built to last see opportunities instead.

The goal for hotels, as well as the travel industry, is to restore confidence in travel. The question now is: What are hotels doing to make tourists feel safe?

  • Overemphasis on sanitization. This year, hotel rooms can never be clean enough. Hotels must have this mindset and advertise it so. Right now, safety is a priority. Even the most comforting beds can never compensate for possible hospitalization weeks after.
  • Flexibility in the booking. Before the pandemic, tourists had to pay fees for hotel cancellations. Remember that not all online travel agencies (OTAs) like Agoda, Trivago, or TripAdvisor allow for free cancellations. However, a marketing strategy that may seem counterproductive is the one that allows for bigger sales — greater flexibility in a time of uncertainty. Being flexible will encourage more people to directly book at your hotel or website, allowing for upselling opportunities. 
  • Seek partnerships with travel advisors. One of the main reasons why people book with travel agents (TAs) is that these companies or experts know the location better than most and are aware of the best deals. Better yet, travelers may contact their TAs if ever they have problems at any time.

The year 2020 is rife with problems and the effects of the coronavirus are not going away soon. The year 2021 may not be so different, except that people are smarter and more careful. 

No one would want to book flights and find out upon arrival that the place they’re going to has been quarantined, months before booking a ticket. As a result, there has been an increasing dependence on travel agencies (TAs) as they can give updated travel advisories. 

TAs do know the best options, whether in booking at hotels or visiting a location.

What may have been a stable and solid source of income for hotels during the holidays has now become a symbol of worry, especially for those who work in this industry. Take note though that some people, as well as businesses, can handle hardships better. Coronavirus just made them stronger. After all, pandemics are not new in history, and the year isn’t over yet.

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