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  • Writer's picturePhilip Marchant

A to Z of 2021 Home Schooling for Business (Part 5, W-Z)

W – Work Friendly

During this pandemic, I could have gone with wellbeing! But I decided to go with Work friendly as I believe this will become a bigger market as people start to travel again.

The importance of people being able to work from anywhere has been highlighted during the pandemic and it looks set to continue post Covid. Flexible working for many people will become a must have in their travel needs from now on.

With many travellers opting for longer stays their trip might not be limited to leisure and thus they'll be looking for a room that can work from comfortably while enjoying more privacy compared to the on-site business centre. Fast Wi-Fi and practical workstations could be the deciding factor for many travellers looking to blend work and play in 2021.

Unsold bedrooms, empty conference rooms, unused banqueting halls, and other under-utilised space has prompted owners and managers to repurpose the spaces. I’ve seen several hotels here in the UK refurbish meeting rooms into fully equipped studios. When it comes to hosting events, planners now expect venues to support hybrid experiences and rank technology as an important consideration on both the planning and delivery side.

Vacant office blocks and retail stores also offer the chance to convert. Hotels in tourist-heavy gateway cities remain an attractive asset for investment despite the challenges they have faced thus far.

The resilience of serviced apartments has been largely observed during the pandemic. The extended stay properties have suffered far less than their traditional hotel counterparts, with the crisis creating additional demand for longer visits.

In response to this trend, several hotel brands have introduced an extended stay offer. Whilst some are adapting and expanding their base product, others are innovating and launching new identities within the space.

Guests are traveling less frequently, but staying longer, and compressing as much as they can into their stays - whether personal or business travel. We are also finding that many guests, at this moment, want less engagement and more privacy.

Hotels will need to cater to the three key segments: business, leisure, and lifestyle transitions, such as home renovations, medical tourism, temporary assignments, relationship changes etc. The third segment is season less, less impacted by world events, and an important category for us.

During the lockdown and the enduring pandemic some corporate clients, whose offices remain closed, have secured blocks of suites for their employees who need a more productive work (work/life) space than their home. These companies are seeking a secure, quiet, private environment with ample workspace and super-fast secure wifi. This trend is expected to continue to some degree, even as offices gradually reopen."

The crossover of hotels and apartments is set to become more frequent and broader. All five of the largest hotel groups (Wyndham Worldwide, Choice Hotels, Marriott International, InterContinental Hotels Group and Hilton Worldwide) have managed extended stay hotels for many years. Changing traveller needs because of the coronavirus is merely accelerating the transition amongst smaller brands.

The disruption to travel and sharp drop in footfall has compelled many hospitality businesses to seek out new revenue streams and as a result there’s been a flurry of activity within the subscription space. The model leverages a longer-term, fixed variable compared to the reliance on transient trade, and several hotel brands have jumped on the bandwagon.

Concurrent with the burgeoning anywhere worker is the introduction of daily, monthly, or annual work and travel passes. citizenM led the charge on this front, launching its corporate subscription and global passport. Marriott, Accor and Karma Group are among other big names to have implemented similar payment plans. It’s unsurprising that efforts are focussed on the lucrative business traveller - MICE was a significant source of income for hotels prior to lockdown and social restrictions. In effect, it’s a resourceful move for hotels to monetise the way they already operate.

Looking wider afield, travel group Inspirato claims to be one of the first operators to adopt a fully subscription-based model. Offering two separate memberships, travellers have access to hundreds of five-star hotels, luxury private homes and experiences either on an all-inclusive basis or for additional nightly fees. It’s the first I’ve seen where a subscription service spans different accommodations on a global level, and it’s a strong indicator that it may well become subsumed into other segments of the travel industry too.

Hotel owners need to look at new ways to maximise income, and occupancy across all seasons.

X – Xenodocheionology

This mouthful of a word means lore of hotels or Inn, or more simply the love of Hotels.

I have worked in, managed, and stayed in many hotels in the last 45 years.

I love the passion and commitment of the staff within, many of which have become lifelong friends. It was in a hotel that I met my wife, that together we produced my two beautiful daughters.

I love the rare circumstance it provides to sit back and relax, whilst others run around for me. I love complimentary buffet breakfasts. I love the little individual packets and bottles. I loved the tight tucked in sheets. I love the feeling of 'getting away' from the speed of normal life.

I love watching the night lights and city traffic pass by from the silence of my room. I love drawing back the curtains in the morning to a new view. I love the privacy, exclusivity, and refuge of the room.

I love sitting in the lounge or bar and guessing the occupations, reasons for their visit to this hotel. love being spoilt and pampered during my stay.

In this COVID era, hospitality owners and managers are finding innovative new ways to impress customers. In terms of food and beverage delivery, bars are exploring ways to bring drinks to customers’ houses, while restaurants are increasingly offering extras, whether that is online zoom cooking classes, including complimentary items such as candles, napkins or tableware, merchandise such as hats, t-shirts, mugs etc, free food such as side dishes to compliment your entree, or QR codes with Spotify playlists.

Of course, takeaways do produce more waste, so try to use suitable packaging, that can be ethically disposed of, but don’t forget to include your brand image, logo, but most importantly you ethos, passion, and ideals in these decisions.

Y – Yearning

We all yearn to see our loved ones and get back to a normal life.

2020 and 2021 so far have been dramatic and challenging both for our customers and ourselves.

Hopefully soon it will be safe enough for us to return to our lives and jobs and careers.

Z – Zero Alcohol

Even before the pandemic started there was a trend among the younger generations of reduced alcohol consumption.

2021 is set to see a change in how consumers purchase alcohol-related products. Low and no alcohol spirits is currently the fastest growing segment within the alcohol category in the UK, growing by 33% across the off-premises sector. The alcohol-free and low-ABV category is growing with even the big multinational brands jumping on the bandwagon. It’s continued to grow thanks to increasing popularity of alcohol-free spirits and low-ABV beers. With this change, venues need to update their beverage menus to ensure they are accommodating the needs of these customers.

Diageo got the ball rolling on the big brand non-alcohol drinks trends band wagon by launching Gordon’s 0.0 in the UK just before Christmas, an alcohol-free version of its famed gin made using the same botanicals as the London Dry expression.

This reflects a broader trend where consumers are choosing to moderate, with particular interest from city-based customers and millennials and Gen Z consumers. Many of the younger generations consume far less alcohol than their older counterparts.

Way before the pandemic took hold, a trend was already emerging of a lower alcohol consumption rate and a desire for premium and craft drinks.

2021’s drinks trends forecast is shaping up to be focused on authenticity in the form of appeals to community, premium experiences, and hospitality.

With strong connections to their communities, smaller producers and craft makers will find success in the New Year by utilising the hyperlocal trend.

Consumer affection for natural wines and lower calorie drinks are here to stay in both the on and off-premises.

Drinks that can promote relaxation and stress relief or have functional or medicinal benefits will be top of mind in a COVID-aware world.

Consumers will also be looking for fresher, “healthier” cocktails in 2021. Expect to see a demand for dual-purpose mocktails and cocktails with lower ABV.

“More and more, customers tend not to drink as many ‘hard’ alcoholic drinks as before so cocktail makers are adapting to a new “healthier” drinking trend adding food items such as coffee, fruits and vegetables and herbs.

A well balanced and interesting Mocktail menu can not only be a great selling and marketing tool but can also add zeros to your bank balance. Non alcoholic drinks, smoothies and mocktails generally have much better margins than beers and wines.

One of the biggest trends right now are “functional beverages.” Functional drinks are just what it sounds like. They’re beverages that serve a “function,” or basically, products that claim to benefit health, wellness or performance.

The growing concern of the pandemic and awareness for health is shifting consumer preferences towards healthier beverages, and less-sugared, natural products with minimal artificial ingredients. Clean, plant-based and healthy ingredients are also reflecting the consumers’ desire to boost immunity.

“Ingredients that promote gut health, improve hydration and have anti-inflammatory properties will be in the spotlight. Superfoods that are naturally rich in immune-boosting ingredients like elderberry, acerola cherry, apple cider vinegar and ginger are all popular. Drinks fortified with ingredients like zinc, vitamin C, probiotics and prebiotics are also in this trend.

Millennials and Gen Z’ers, are pushing the trend by reaching for no- and low-alcohol options that provide an experience of imbibing but without the possible negative effects.

Across the generations, people are now more mindful about how much and when they drink. They are comfortable deciding not to drink on occasion. It is no longer a foregone conclusion that the majority of consumers drink every time they visit a restaurant or bar.”

Alcohol-free cocktails are nothing new, but in 2021 these mocktails will be more focused on fresh ingredients, as well as nuanced flavours and stylish presentations of leading craft cocktails.

That opens the door to endless possibilities. There are very interesting cocktails that you can make without the use of alcohol. So instead of selling a fizzy pop or fruit juice for £1-£3 you can make an exciting and original cocktail for only a slight increase in cost for £5-£9, increasing your profits.

Drinks that are focused on weight loss, are also expected to trend this year as many try to lose the extra pounds gained during the quarantine. Consumers will also be focused on getting in shape and to improve overall health. Launches of sports nutrition products like protein drinks, electrolyte replenishers, performance enhancers, energy boosters and weight-loss elixirs will increase.

It’s the Millennials and Gen Z who will be driving this trend forward. Health and wellness are cited as important purchase drivers for Millennials. With 60% of millennials often opting for a lower-calorie drink.

Mocktails that are low in calories and carbs, can cater to this trend. This will include reducing sugar or swapping it out for natural low-calorie sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit and allulose, improving nutrient density and incorporating plant-based, functional and clean label ingredients. Zero-proof alcohols are also great in that some brands promote their zero calorie or low calorie benefits.

Thanks for reading this and don’t forget to check out the rest of the A-Z in this series.

I hope you have enjoyed and please comment if you think I have missed anything or would like to enhance or add to anything I have said. I look forward to reading your comments.


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