One year later: How has COVID-19 changed what travelers want?

May 04, 2021 | News

The World Health Organization declared that COVID-19 could be characterized as a pandemic on March 11, 2020, leading to stay-at-home orders, temporarily and permanently closed businesses, and a massive decrease in travel around the U.S. A little over a year later, the impact on the travel industry is undeniable: hotel occupancy rates dropped from 66% in 2019 to 39.8% in 2020. According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s (AHLA) State of the Hotel Industry 2021 survey, travel isn’t expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.

Traveler and businesses’ priorities have shifted as a result of the pandemic. Take a look at a few of the changes:

Contactless check-in and payment options

The demand for contact-free payments started to increase before the pandemic, and the new focus on social distancing and reducing unnecessary contact with surfaces has made these options even more popular. In a survey from BCD Travel, 67% of travelers rated the use of contactless payments as the most important regulatory measure to ensure safe travel. Some hotel groups, including CLC partners IHG, Marriott, and Hilton, are now offering digital check-in using their apps.

The traveler’s new favorite word: Clean

In the AHLA State of the Hotel Industry 2021 survey, 62% of consumers ranked overall cleanliness as one of their top three factors when choosing a hotel, up 24 percentage points from pre-pandemic results.

Hotels have also made increased sanitization and cleaning a priority. Many have joined the AHLA’s industry-wide initiative, Safe Stay, which focuses on enhanced hotel cleaning practices, social interactions, and workplace protocols.

Flexibility while booking

Reservations that can be cancelled or adjusted without a fee have become more important than ever to travelers. Constantly changing travel and safety guidelines make booking ahead more risky, so as travelers make reservations, they will look more for flexible booking and cancellation policies.

Easier check-in processes

In addition to contact-free check-in options, travelers will look for simpler, streamlined methods of checking in to hotels, so that they can decrease the time they spend waiting at the front desk. Hotels and travel managers must be prepared to support guests quickly so that long lines don’t form in lobbies, and travelers and employees can maintain social distancing guidelines. 

CLC Lodging is here to support travelers as the industry recovers. CLC has solutions to meet travelers’ new priorities during the pandemic.

●      Virtual per diem card: CLC’s new virtual per diem option, the Trip Card, helps travelers avoid touching unnecessary surfaces, and makes paying for travel-related expenses easier than ever. Employers can issue virtual cards on the CLC website, and travelers will receive a notification to view their virtual, contactless Trip Card from any device.

●      CLC Network hotel COVID-19 policies: Many CLC partner hotels are a part of the AHLA’s Safe Stay initiative, demonstrating their commitment to cleanliness, and guest safety. We have also compiled some of our partner hotels’ booking, cancellation, and reservation policies to help our members make informed decisions about workforce travel.

●      Flexible lodging program management: CLC Network hotels offer flexible cancellation policies that are not typically offered when booking online or directly with hotels. Our negotiation team works to make sure that CLC members get flexible cancellation policies at CLC Network hotels, and travelers often book on the same day as their stay, depending on a hotel’s availability.

●      Check-in support: CLC members can access a few ways to get help if they have trouble checking in to their hotel using CLC’s mobile app, including a help hotline with 24/7 support from our lodging experts. Travelers can also use the app to send their CheckINN card details to the front desk for a contactless check-in process.

Multiple hotel groups started to offer on-site COVID-19 tests to hotel guests as part of Covid-safety programs.

Become a member for free today and get access to all of CLC’s traveler support features including 24/7 reservation support and duty of care reservation mapping so you can quickly locate where your travelers are staying.  

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