(BPT) - The hotel industry has always been on the forefront of finding innovative ways to accommodate and take care of guests. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has led to canceled or rescheduled plans, many hotels are focused on developing long-term strategies to give their guests the safest and best possible experience. If you’re looking to travel right now, consider booking with a hotel implementing one or all of these six strategies.
1. Employing digital assistants
Imagine being able to interact closely with a hotel worker who delivers towels and snacks straight to your room, controls elevators and accommodates your needs while keeping safety at the forefront. Hotel attendants like this might sound like a thing of the past, but at The Mercantile Hotel in New Orleans, it’s a reality. The hotel takes contactless service to the next level with their robot Suga, a three-foot tall, automated butler designed to accommodate guest needs in record-breaking time. Suga goes above and beyond to ensure all guests and employees can practice social distancing while still enjoying the comforts and amenities of hands-on hotel services.
Digital concierges also make hotel stays more convenient. The Mercantile Hotel is also home to Angie, an interactive digital concierge stationed in each guest room. Available 24 hours a day, this interactive virtual assistant has voice control and touch-screen capabilities. You can customize your stay, check in, play music, make hands-free calls, access hotel amenities, charge mobile devices and more with Angie.
2. Offering micro-wedding services
With wedding postponements a common practice due to group gathering limitations, many hotels like The Hilton at Pensacola Beach have begun offering “micro-wedding” or “minimony” packages. These are exactly what they sound like: smaller, more intimate ceremonies that give couples the ability to celebrate their special day amidst the backdrop of the pandemic. Many micro-wedding and upgraded elopement providers still offer most of what you’d expect at a full-fledged ceremony — bouquets and flower packages, staff like an officiant and a photographer, and more — at a fraction of the price.
Some couples who picked their special date a year or more in advance have opted for a small ceremony in honor of their chosen wedding day, leaving the option for a larger, future celebration open for when we can all happily gather together again.
3. Renovating for the future
Some hotels took advantage of a slower travel season to make headway on exciting new renovations designed with the pandemic era in mind. For example, Beachside Hotel & Suites in Cocoa Beach, Florida, returned to its ‘60s glory in May 2020 after a $5.9 million renovation. The hotel offers a relaxed, retro vibe and showcases unique features including individually ventilated rooms and pet-friendly amenities. Beachside also ramped up its outdoor services to accommodate current guest preferences, including a luxury lazy river pool, an outdoor mural for social media photo-ops and rocket-launch viewing locations.
4. Giving back to the community
Doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics and other healthcare heroes have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, serving selflessly on the frontlines. In the spirit of hospitality, Innisfree Hotels opened up their rooms to essential workers who need to isolate from their families for safety, allowing them to fully rest and recharge. Additionally, the hotels were staffed with team members who received supplemental training on critical health and safety measures to ensure the safety of all guests.
5. Pivoting to take-out
Amidst the backdrop of this year’s public health crisis, H20 at the Hilton Pensacola Beach not only switched to curbside pickup, but they also fully redesigned their pantry into a butcher shop. The hotel’s butcher shop offered high-quality proteins to locals and visitors alike for low prices. Menu items included New York steak, filet mignon, rib-eye, veal chops, salmon, snapper, sushi and more. Guests who shared photos of their homecooked meals with H20 via Instagram were entered for a chance to win a free dinner for two at the award-winning restaurant once normal operations resumed.
6. Creating an essentials drive-thru
Early on in the pandemic, SpringHill Suites in Panama City Beach, Florida, created an “essentials” drive-thru as a safe way to get much-needed quarantine supplies, like food, personal care items and cleaning supplies, into the community. Here, customers could drive up to the hotel’s parking garage to purchase affordable essentials for their families.
While the pandemic continues to affect the travel industry, many hotels’ resilient and creative strategies are helping them provide safe options for guests passing through.