Rethinking hospitality during the cost-of-living crisis

Hospitality cost-of-living

[Credit: Agilysys]

[SPONSORED CONTENT] Matthew Prosser, senior sales director for Agilysys, highlights why personalisation, technology and empathy are key for UK hospitality businesses to retain customers during the cost-of-living crisis. 

In the face of the UK’s cost of living crisis, the hotel industry finds itself at the crossroads of economic challenges and evolving consumer behaviours. As consumers grapple with higher bills, discretionary spending is the first to be cut – according to the  Agilysys UK Hospitality Impact Study, 85 per cent of consumers have made changes to their holiday plans to offset the toll inflation has taken on their household budgets during the last 12 months. 

On top of this, just a mere 27 per cent of guests have rebooked a hotel in the last year, evidencing that hotels need to do more to retain consumers and make them ambassadors for their brands. To overcome this challenge, the hotel industry must develop action plans that confront the reality that its traditional customer base is re-evaluating spending habits.

Blending human hospitality with technology

Holidays provide a valued break from regular life. Saving up for that dream getaway is common; however, economic pressures have forced tightened purse strings, causing many to sacrifice that well-earned break. In fact, 44 per cent of consumers have decreased their leisure spending in the last year. 38 per cent are taking fewer holidays, while 18 per cent are taking shorter breaks or opting for staycations (16 per cent).

The shift in consumer behaviour, influenced by financial constraints, highlights the need for hotels to adapt. As travellers become more budget-conscious, their focus is on having the best experiences for the money they spend. Being able to consistently deliver an exceptional guest experience is more essential than ever. Helpful, hospitable staff enhance any hotel stay, increasing guest satisfaction and the chance they’ll return.

Aligned with this shift, 64 per cent of guests want reduced wait times across various touchpoints of their stay —whether this is booking, check-in, stay requests, or checkout. This underscores the importance of giving guests the option of self-service technology. Technologies such as mobile check-in and keyless room access need to compliment human hospitality, not replace it. Staff should be able to step away from manning check-in desks to focus on personalising the guest experience, yet still be on hand to assist those who might be less tech-savvy. Ultimately, it’s all about providing choice and covering the full spectrum of guest preferences.

Personalisation for today’s cost-conscious guest

Great things come in small packages and the little touches make a difference. From warm, personalised greetings upon arrival to being given helpful recommendations, 62 per cent of guests claim tailored experiences would make them more likely to rebook a venue. Hotels that deliver remarkable service and elevate the basics will earn the kind of reputation that inspires guests to return. Additionally, 58 per cent of guests cite the small things, such as finding chocolate on one’s pillow, as delightful surprises that promote loyalty. 

Staff empowered to surprise and delight patrons with their favourite room or by remembering their drinks orders can evoke lasting positive memories without heavily discounting core room rates. By focusing on the human touch, hotels can maximise the likelihood today’s cash-conscious travellers will view their experience as money well-spent. Thoughtful understanding of what now drives booking decisions sets hotels up for success retaining and growing repeat, referral-generating clientele even in tighter economic times. 

Empathy in hospitality’s new era

In navigating this new era of hospitality, empathy and understanding the evolving needs of the post-pandemic, cost-conscious consumer remains at the heart of the guest experience. Consumers are increasingly seeking greater value while also considering the realities of their own budgets. Adding thoughtful layers of personalisation through both human and technological interactions ensures hotel stays are cherished moments. 

After all, at its core hospitality is about empathy, warmth, and human connection. While the economic climate might mean guests visit less frequently, their underlying need to feel welcomed, understood, and cared for during holidays has become even more significant. Successful hotels will place empathy for the guest at the centre, making experiences feel less transactional for guests. By emphasising the human side of hospitality, hotels can ensure resilience regardless of economic externalities. Getting the fundamentals of sincere, thoughtful service right will lead to meaningful guest experiences, lasting loyalty, and greater return on experience (ROE) no matter the external circumstances.

BHN has partnered with Agilysys for a webinar on Thursday 29th February titled Empowering staff with technology to deliver exceptional guest experiences. Learn insights from the team and leading UK hoteliers by registering at no-cost here

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