Transform indoor and outdoor spaces to provide visitors with a sense of safety while delivering memorable experiences that last a lifetime
As the world continues to wrestle with the implications of the pandemic, and the travel industry remains in flux as it explores new ways of engaging with guests without compromising on safety and wellbeing, it’s become critical to innovate and reimagine hotel experiences. How can the great outdoors be brought indoors and provide guests with the extraordinary, the memorable? How can indoor spaces be transformed to ease customers’ minds, attract footfall and translate into increased occupancy?
These challenges are opportunities that have been used to create a sense of exclusivity and add much-needed value to guest itineraries, and have proved to be a great lesson on how to innovate with less rather than more.
Our first step was to look at how to create packages for locals, for people who live in and around the area. People are looking for new experiences. They want to see where they live with new eyes, and discover new adventures. This trend has been largely driven by the pandemic and lockdowns, but is continuing to gain momentum as people stay cautious about their health.
Many people want to simply get out of the house without having to get out of the city or the province. Short and sharp daycations or staycations give them a chance to refresh and reinvigorate their minds without the complexity.
Guests want to get out the house and just experience something new and different, like going to a hotel for a day where they can sit outside and enjoy pool service while letting the kids splash in the pool.
Tapping into this demand
At the President Hotel, we tapped into this by creating movie nights by the pool with a giant screen that can be seen by everyone who is attending. Ensuring that the numbers are sensible so that social distancing is a priority, we also provided guests on their balconies with headphones, and transformed the poolside into a Hollywood movie experience.
Guests experienced a great night out in a socially distanced, safe space while enjoying good food, drink and comfort. Bean bags, blankets, gourmet food and treats turned a simple night out into something that guests will treasure. It’s also worth investing in technology that keeps the sound down for the guests who aren’t participating in the movie – Bluetooth headphones kept out the ambient noise, created a complete movie experience, and didn’t disturb the other guests.
This is one way of turning a sunset into a memory and turning indoor spaces into outdoor experiences. We just had to ensure that space is maintained throughout. People don’t like being crowded, so ensure that spectacular views and food are paired with open spaces and social distancing.
Another way of taking the outdoors, indoors, is to leverage the location as much as possible. We developed work from hotel packages that emphasised gorgeous views and how these can be enjoyed while catching up on emails, or sitting in a long meeting. Why work from home if you can work from the fifth floor of a hotel overlooking the ocean? Visitors can also take advantage of the local sights as part of their downtime, really getting the best of both worlds in one simple package.
The same principle can be applied to those who have adopted a more ‘digital nomad’ lifestyle, eschewing home ownership and renting in favour of breath-taking views and unparalleled experiences.
By transforming parts of the hotel into long-stay apartments, you’re opening up to a whole world of business and guest opportunity. And this is a business model that’s very likely to continue as people hire globally, work remotely and travel anywhere.
Focus on enhanced guest experiences
The next step is to focus on how staff can enhance these experiences with the right training and approaches. Employees that understand the need for keeping stickers updated, respecting different client requirements, and engaging with people on an individual level, are the gold dust that add that extra sparkle to any experience.
There should be an academy or specialised training programme for employees to keep their customer-care muscles in shape, and gives them the tools they need to think out the box.
People need operational muscle memory, they need to stay in practice, so give them the chance to do so. We realised that to stay the hotel of choice, locally and abroad, we needed to invest in our people, processes and protocols. In fact, people stay at the core our your business whether they are employees or guests, because it’s people who make the world go round.