The news is in: Americans are ready to travel again. Despite the increased costs due to inflation, Americans are hitting the road or taking to the skies in huge numbers. Meanwhile, the airline industry is showing that it’s not recovered from the pandemic and the Great Resignation. From Memorial Day, the unofficial kickoff of the summer travel season, to the end of June, airlines canceled more than 21,000 flights. Some carriers canceled nearly 5% of their flights in that time. This is just the most visible symptom of the stresses in the travel and hospitality industries.
For many hospitality businesses, the summer season is a make-or-break time. You may not have to close during these vital weeks, but if you aren’t prepared for the summer surge, you might not be able to provide the services you like. This could lead to bad experiences for guests. When guests have bad experiences, your reputation can suffer, which causes long-term damage to your company’s profitability.
Surveys show that about 46% of Americans are planning to travel this summer. Despite higher prices, early estimates show summer travel levels are essentially equal to 2019. Some go even further. Expedia CEO Peter Kern predicts that this summer will be the busiest travel season ever.
About 57% of Americans are planning to take a road trip, with 51% planning to take a flight. A full 84% of travelers plan on staying in paid lodging – about 67% in hotels and 16% in private rentals.
However, employment levels have not returned to pre-pandemic levels. Of course, you know this, looking at your fully booked register and your much-reduced roster of employees.
So what can you do to get ready?
We’ve already talked in some detail about how hospitality businesses can address staff shortages. Here are some of the insights we’ve shared for hospitality businesses:
In addition, we offered additional insights for restaurants facing staff shortages, including:
If Kern is right and we’re on the verge of a full travel recovery, we may be looking at many profitable years for your hospitality business. If that’s the case, we as an industry should keep our eyes on the long-term future of travel in America. We need to do what we can to nurture this travel recovery to promote a more profitable future for everyone.
To reach that goal, we offer a few more tips to help you prioritize solutions for this year’s summer surge:
What’s most important for travelers this year is the experience. Part of the reason why people are traveling is that they want to spend money on great experiences. It’s important to do what you can to make sure your guests have that great experience they’re looking for. While you may have to cut back on services, try your best to retain the services key to your guests’ experiences. Whenever possible, give guests the opt-out option rather than cutting services outright. You will have to economize, but don’t let “skimpflation” ruin your guests’ experience. If people don’t feel rewarded by travel, they may think it’s not worth it and turn back to local amusements.
At the same time you’re trying to provide a great experience, resist the temptation to overcharge. Raise prices as necessary, but don’t try to profit too much at your guests’ expense. To some extent, guests are prepared to pay more, so you might be able to get away with it. However, if you do, it can also change people’s perception of your business, and of travel in general. After they look at the bills and think about future travel, it might seem not worth it.
Finally, do what you can to improve guests’ experience with things that are free or low-cost. Smiles, kind words, personal engagement, and compassionate responsiveness to complaints can all go a long way toward helping guests enjoy themselves when an experience might otherwise not be all they hoped it would be. Emphasize positivity and model it for your staff to help everyone have a better experience this busy travel season.
At Xclusive Services, we are prepared to help your hospitality business shine at this busy time, despite staffing challenges.
Our Xclusive Excellence™ commitment to our people and yours means we supply staff that is not only supremely confident, but has a great attitude to help you provide a wonderful experience for your guests. We can help you provide the great service that you’re known for. This will help you maintain your company’s outstanding reputation and put you in a position to thrive in the coming travel recovery.
If you are looking for a staffing solution for your hospitality business, request a quote today, or call one of our local offices for an urgent staff need.
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