New research from Honeywell based on information from its INNCOM INNcontrol hotel guest room energy management system (EMS) has shown just how devastating the past year has been to the hotel industry. But it has also given keen insight into new hotel guest behaviors.
To better understand guest patterns, three different types of occupancy rates were viewed:
- Hotel occupancy: referring to available rooms that are actively being rented at any moment
- Room occupancy: referring to available rooms that are physically occupied at any moment by guests or staff
- Guest occupancy: referring to rented rooms with a person physically in the room
Ah the Great Indoors!
As one can imagine, hotel occupancy and room occupancy can shift a lot depending on hotel location, season and a variety of factors, however, guest occupancy is often fairly predictable. It’s how housekeeping plans so well around it. Most people are out of their rooms by 10:30 a.m. and usually return anywhere from 8:30 p.m. to midnight. New arrivals always come in from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and guest rates experience another drop for dinner.
In what would be surprising to no one, hotel occupancy and room occupancy dropped significantly in 2020 at the height of the pandemic. Guest occupancy, however, spiked. The peaks and valleys mentioned above by those time frames flattened significantly. In fact, according to Honeywell, less than 15% percent of guest rooms were ever left unoccupied at one time.
But things are starting to uneven out, so-to-speak. Those peaks and valleys are returning as hotel occupancy increases, but, they also haven’t been consistent. For instance, properties in California, Colorado and D.C. have seen a small increase in hotel occupancy with nothing changing for guest occupancy. Florida, on the other hand, seemed to be returning to pre-pandemic levels much faster.
Designing Hotels as an Experience Center, as Opposed to a Hub
It’s hard to say if a return to normal will actually be the normal hotels remember. But, if guests end up spending more time in their rooms, this leaves opportunities to expand the amenities of those rooms or upgrade the furniture quality or entertainment offerings.
Hotel design, technology and guest-facing features have already shifted tremendously in response to the pandemic. New amenities that support guest health, wellness and productivity in open, relaxing, often biophilic spaces with expanded food options have been popping up in hotels all over the world, especially in the luxury sphere.
The ever-present concern of Indoor air quality (IAQ) is also one that cannot be overlooked. In fact, all hospitality technologies should be looked at for additional investments into more versatile solutions from upgraded Wi-Fi networks and buildings controls to an EMS that responds to guest room occupancy patterns and automatically adjusts the thermostat when a room is empty, providing energy savings.
Adapting to the Uncertain
There is no knowing what the new normal will be or when it will settle in. The best hotels can do is keep an eye on things, listen to their guests and adapt to prescient needs. That way they can continue to drive business growth and recovery while also providing an enhanced guest experience.