In a week where AccorHotels became the latest to launch a hotel office, is there reason to hope that crisis driven products and services could outlast the pandemic?
For the past five years, Yannis Moati has been working hard to convince hoteliers that they need to think of their inventory in a different way. “I will be very honest but until recently it’s been a struggle,” admits the CEO and one of the founders of Hotelsbyday.com, which launched in 2015 as a provider of intraday hotel spaces.
However,in the past quarter, as the global pandemic has wreaked havoc on the hospitality industry, new hotel sign ups have accelerated by as much as 40%. According to Moati, pre-crisis the company was onboarding approximately five partners a week but now it’s five a day, taking the number of participating hotels, based mostly in North America, to 1,500. “Everybody has seen the light. Everybody now understands what we do,” he says.
This shift is not surprising. These are desperate times. In its latest figures The World Travel Organization says international tourist arrivals will plunge by 60 to 80% in 2020 and tourism spending is unlikely to return to pre-crisis levels until 2024. Hotels have been badly hit – this week Hilton, the world’s second biggest hotel operator, reported losses of nearly double what analysts were estimating.
As hotels have faced one of the toughest six months ever, finding new ways to monetise their inventory has become an imperative. This week, the innovative French chain Accor became the latest to announce the launch of its ‘Hotel Office’ – a concept that allows people to ‘book their own hotel room for an uninterrupted, premium remote working experience’.
Home delivery services like Marriott on Wheels is another concept that has grown in popularity and is fuelling the growth of UberEats and Deliveroo. Beyond the work-from-a-hotel and home delivery services, others are looking to use their F&B space in socially distanced ways to provide unique experiences for, not just guests, but also the local community. Some hotel bars which, thanks to social distancing, can no longer pack in 80 people are now offering, for example, cocktail-making master classes a smaller number of people and promoting these on websites like Klook and GetyourGuide.