Travel around the globe remains a deep desire – some even consider it a need – for the opportunities to relax, engage in inspiring experiences, appreciate cultural enrichment, and create wonderful memories with families and friends. There are understandable concerns, though, with venturing around the globe these days due to COVID-19, so what kind of luxury hotels should travel advisors be looking at in order to effectively sell travel during these challenging times? The answer – hotels that give “more” to their guests, which ultimately delivers “more” confidence and peace of mind to both advisors and their clients.
“More” Health & Safety Protocols
As part of today’s new normal, consumers travel with heightened expectations about hygiene, as comfort and safety while away from home are crucial.
Stand-out luxury hotels capturing the attention of consumers and travel advisors are those that have implemented excellent health and safety protocols and those that go above and beyond for the best interest of their guests and staff. Protocols in place may include the elimination of buffets, cleaning luggage upon arrival, social distancing measures/signage, hand-washing/hand-sanitizing stations, and capacity restrictions. Luxury hotels that exceed health and safety expectations allow travelers to enjoy more space to comfortably spread out, appreciate more privacy for enhanced relaxation, and immerse themselves in more things to discover and dream about.
Palladium Hotel Group, with Grand Palladium Hotels & Resorts and adults-only TRS Hotels in Jamaica, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, has instituted health and safety protocols certified by SGS, the world's leading inspection, verification, testing, and certification services company. The hotel company is working closely with the government to ensure the most stringent protocols are implemented. Palladium Hotel Group also now offers on-site antigen and PCR COVID-19 testing at its resorts to those traveling to and from the U.S. or any country that requires this prior to arrival. The antigen rapid test is provided complimentary to guests.
“More” Health Insurance
How can advisors put their clients at ease, so they can appreciate the rewarding experiences of travel? By adding insurance to the equation.
Some luxury hotels are offering new and/or expanded types of medical insurance to alleviate client concerns about getting ill with COVID-19 when away from home. Travel advisors are encouraged to look at properties where guests are automatically enrolled in an insurance program from the moment they arrive on-site until the time they check-out.
Palladium Hotel Group introduced its Stay Safe Plus complimentary medical insurance to protect guests at its properties against any unforeseen circumstances as a result of COVID-19. The insurance covers expenses for any illness arising during the hotel stay due to COVID-19 such as medical fees, medicine and hospitalization expenses; medical transfer (train, plane, helicopter or ambulance) when the guest is unable to continue the trip due to the virus and needs to be hospitalized or return home; and extension of the stay if medically necessary for up to 10 days. Maximum dollar values apply.
“More” Flexibility With Cancellation Policies
With the existing swirl of uncertainty around consumers traveling, luxury hotels that offer exceptional flexibility with their cancellation policies are likely to be favored by consumers and advisors.
Enhanced cancellation policies, such as canceling up to 48 hours prior to the arrival date, are perceived as more customer-friendly. Consumers and advisors may feel more confident booking with these types of hotels as there is less risk associated with the booking. While the idea of travel inspires and engages, today’s reality is that changes can happen last-minute, whether due to health issues that arise or travel restrictions put into place, so more flexible cancellations policies can boost travel reservations.
To touch or not to touch? COVID-19 has fast-tracked implementation of more contactless interactions in order to cultivate bookings and trust.
When researching the best options for clients, look at luxury hotels that have increased contactless interactions, such as mobile check-in and check-out, use of texting platforms for communication between staff and guests, digital keys, digital menus accessed via QR codes, in-room tablets, and digital guest and concierge services.
Putting a greater emphasis on technology use with contactless interactions does not mean diminished hospitality or customer service. It actually gives guests a distinct sense of control and safety, plus generates important confidence in their hotel choice.
Consumers have deeply missed the connections and experiences afforded by travel. Many are ready to embark on the journey again, but they are seeking some extra comforts from their “home away from home.” The “more” that luxury hotels can give, the more much-needed confidence that travelers and travel advisors enjoy, creating a likely path to bookings and recovery.