Tourism After Lockdown: Hotel Guests Expect Normal In The New Normal – STR

Vaccination progress has enabled international travel to restart in some countries, and after months of restrictions, many consumers have dusted off their passports to enjoy an eagerly awaited break. However, a key question remains: what are the needs and expectations of travelers as we adapt to coexisting with the virus?

July 2021 research among a sample of global consumers has uncovered negative sentiment toward travel, and despite decreasing government barriers and restrictions, many consumers have put off traveling due to lingering anxieties around factors such as infection and complicated and costly testing requirements.

Let’s now examine views and attitudes toward accommodation experiences and compare findings with our previous results. Are the consumers of today and tomorrow similar to or different from those in the pre-pandemic travel market?

Choose location, decide price, and read reviews

Earlier in the year, we highlighted the increasing importance of cancellation policies as ever-changing travel guidance and personal circumstances precipitated the need for more flexibility. The latest data shows that cancellation policies are still important. However, location, price and reviews are now the three key determinants when choosing accommodation. This suggests increased confidence in travel and hints at a return to a pre-pandemic rationale.

Fewer respondents compared with our February 2021 and August 2020 studies stated that COVID-19 protocols, such as effective social distancing, swayed their accommodation booking (11% versus 16% and 15%, respectively). This finding strengthens the view that consumers are now more accepting of the virus, most likely due to vaccination, compared with earlier in the pandemic.

The new normal: more space and better WiFi?

Minimalism design was a trend before the pandemic as many hotel brands decluttered rooms and communal areas to bring down costs and adapt to consumer preference. The evidence suggests that more open spaces and better use of outdoor areas will be well received by consumers today and into the future. More than 60% of respondents agreed that they preferred accommodation with these features. There was little variation in opinion by age, which suggests universal interest in more space and better access to the outside.

Working from home may have contributed to raised expectations for hotel Wi-Fi services going forward. Nearly 50% of travelers expect improved Wi-Fi now than compared with before the pandemic. Frequent business travelers placed even greater emphasis with more than 60% expecting an improvement.

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