We’ve changed. That’s not news. But how? That was the very question a new study undertaken by Oracle Hospitality in conjunction with Skift Research tried to answer: How have travelers’ attitudes about a hotel stay changed in the past 18 months?

More than 500 hospitality executives and just under 5,000 consumers were polled worldwide.

As hotels resume hosting events, meeting professionals might consider these study findings.

  • A nice hotel guest room is not enough. More than 2/3 (68 percent) of travelers are very or somewhat interested in purchasing products or experiences from their hotel beyond the room. Planners take note: Diving into local culture, resources and gastronomy is more important than ever.
  • Hotel executives are on it. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of respondents indicated they were busily exploring opportunities for non-room revenue to recoup last year’s losses.

The same study also uncovered key takeaways for meeting- and event-focused hotels:

  • Keep it clean: Even when Covid becomes a bad memory, consumers want pandemic practices to remain the norm: 67 percent want hotels to maintain more frequent cleaning and disinfecting procedures; 55 percent want to see guest areas/public spaces continue to be arranged for social distancing; 11 percent plan to dine solely via room service to minimize contact. The lesson for planners may be that they should continue to accommodate these preferences in their setups and activities, at for the near term.
  • Tech is here to stay: Pandemic-era upgrades aren’t going anywhere: 76 percentof hoteliers are providing contactless payment options, 36 percent offer self-service check-in, 59 percent have digital messaging services to limit staff and guest interactions, and 42 percent have instituted smartphone-based room keys. The same tech-enabled convenience and safety will be expected by meetings groups in event registration through transport back to the airport.
  • Safety first: 77 percent of travelers surveyed noted a Covid-19 vaccination is very or somewhat important in giving them the peace of mind to travel. Does that mean planners should ask for proof of vaccination or recent Covid test? More and more employers are doing so, as is the U.S. military. A pre-event survey of attendees can provide an answer that lifts total responsibility off your shoulders.