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Why the leisure market is key to a hotels success in 2021

Lara Blake

With the ever-changing landscape and uncertainty of international travel continuing into 2021 and beyond, it has become apparent that the domestic and leisure markets will be the key to keeping the hotel industry afloat in these challenging times and throughout the recovery phase.

Business and corporate travel is at an all-time low, and we are starting to see a trend in “family staycations” and a surge in the leisure market. Typical families are now either unable or hesitant to travel interstate and abroad, and so the yearly family overseas holiday may be off the cards. Because of this, we are now seeing a real shift in the demographics that are making up hotel occupancies. Properties are finding a wealth of value in the permanent, loyal customer base that they can find with a family by creating real “sparkle” moments. Hotel chains at the forefront of the industry are doing well by capitalising on “missed celebrations” due to the pandemic by promoting special (and sometimes, extravagant) options for families who are making up for lost time. However, there are large players in the industry who have been living with this “heartist” mentality for years. It is their mission and culture to provide peak experiences and heartfelt, genuine connections.

Some of their properties are really pulling out all the stops and using their creative skills and imagination to ensure that their family clientele have the stay of a lifetime and as a result, they are also maximising guest loyalty.

We are starting to see a wave of family outdoor vacation packages, family eco-friendly packages, and a real collaboration between local businesses supporting each other and working together to ensure families get the best possible experience. From research, hotel animations that are targeted towards children have been bringing in a wealth of word-of-mouth referrals and trip advisor reviews, bringing the hotel’s rankings up by tenfold when it comes to guest satisfaction surveys.

Some properties are really focussing on unique experiences for the little ones by having daily childrens’ cooking classes with the head chef and some properties have even updated their accommodation options to include family-style apartments which have been creatively transformed into Cinderella’s castle or the Jungle book.

Although all this is all very fun, safety is also now absolutely paramount when it comes to hosting the family market. Families want to ensure safety protocols are in place prior to arrival. Mum and Dad, particularly, will appreciate a hotel’s efforts in making them feel safe and welcome.

As we move into a socially distanced world, contactless technology for hotels is becoming the new normal. We now have check-in apps, the ability to order room service, wake up calls and the option to have a real time chat with guest relations. We are now seeing Uber-like hotel apps and hotels chain on demand apps. So, what do you think this means for the future of human connection and creating those everlasting memories in hotels?

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