low-angle photo of Hotel lighted signage on top of brown building during nighttimeMore than half of Australians hold hotels to a higher standard post-pandemic, according to new research, Green Shoots of Optimism, released today by SevenRooms, a guest experience and retention platform for the hospitality industry. Few industries were hit harder by the pandemic than travel, tourism and hospitality.

Despite restrictions being all but over and borders reopening, Australian hoteliers cannot simply return to normal. In fact, consumer expectations have evolved when it comes to visiting and staying at hotels, with SevenRooms research revealing that Australian consumers expect more than ever from hotel operators.

According to the research, which set out to determine what guests expect from post-pandemic hotels, half of Australians 50 expect to be able to make bookings, reservations and purchases via online or contactless technology, rather than via a phone call or in-person.

Meanwhile, one in three of 68 expect flexible cancellation and a refund should their trip be impacted by COVID. Few industries have been harder hit by the pandemic than hospitality, but none have demonstrated more resilience, adaptability and dynamism, said Paul Hadida, General Manager, APAC at SevenRooms. As Australia’s travel and hospitality industries return to a new-norm post-pandemic, it’s imperative that hotel operators remain agile to meet changing customer demands in a new era of travel.

Consumers demand more today, and the venues that meet those demands will lead by example post-pandemic. Change should be seen as an opportunity, not a threat. Offering online or contactless technology to guests for making reservations, for example, is the biggest consumer demand today. However, doing so also drives operational efficiencies for venues and helps them provide exceptional guest experiences that incentivise loyalty, boost revenue and help them tackle whatever the future holds.

Changing consumer demands As life returns to a new-norm post-pandemic, hotel operators need to adapt to changing consumer behaviours to ensure they can attract, engage and retain guests. According to the report, Australian consumers today expect hoteliers to Offer flexible cancellation and a refund should their trip be impacted by COVID 68 Offer complimentary deals or experiences at the hotel food-beverage venue 34 Demonstrate a genuine commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly practices 33 Limit their capacity to maintain health and safety 31 Work with local partners and producers 30 Katie Malone, Group Director, Marketing at Crystalbrook Collection, which uses SevenRooms across its portfolio of 11 restaurants and bars, commented as a five-star hotel group, we’ve always held ourselves to high standards, but guests needs and wants have changed post-pandemic, and we must adapt.

One of the biggest trends today is personalisation and a focus on creating memorable moments. For us, data is the foundation for providing the remarkable experiences they desire in every one of our venues. Through our digital transformation were aiming to build 360-degree pictures of every customer, so we can understand their likes, dislikes, how often they dine, how much they spend and more.

With those insights, we’re able to provide the personalisation they demand and reward their loyalty.

For example, local residents can sign up for our Crystalbrook Local program at each destination. We also recognise our high-spenders and regulars with their favourite seat or a complimentary glass of bubbles.

The last two years have been incredibly challenging, but with the technology powering our mission, were extremely positive about the future of hospitality and eager to go above and beyond for our customers post-pandemic. Loyalty is a hotel’s best friend Cultivating guest loyalty is essential for hoteliers now more than ever.

According to the research, one in four 25 Australian consumers want to be recognised for their loyalty status – e.g., silver, or gold – and receive exclusive perks for that loyalty tier.

In addition, Australian consumers say they will remain loyal to a hotel if the hotel was flexible with bookings affected by events like a pandemic or floods.

  • They received a complimentary drink or pre-selecting an in-room food-beverage amenity upon arrival.
  • They received personalised offers based on their food and beverage choices during a previous stay visit – e.g., a discount at the restaurant or bar, complimentary dishes & cocktails.
  • They received additional loyalty points for enjoying on-property restaurants and bars 35 Green shoots of optimism for Australia’s hotel sector One-third.

Australians still have not stayed in a hotel since the start of the pandemic, but there are shoots of optimism.

Written by: Matthew Thomas