There is no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives and the way we travel forever. From workations and bleisure trips to longer and more sustainable holidays, the hospitality sector must adjust to the new needs and desires of guests.
TD sat down with Trent Fraser, CEO of Choice Hotels about the emerging travel trends and navigating the post-pandemic era in the hospitality sector.
Travel Daily (TD): How is Choice Hotels navigating the post-pandemic era? What are the challenges you faced?
Trent Fraser (TF): The post pandemic period has some interesting and surprising trends in the way people travel and challenges in delivery across the hospitality industry.
Supporting franchisees through the rolling state and border lockdowns was our number one priority. During lockdowns and throughout the pandemic we waived certain fees to franchisees and reduced the charging methodology to assist hotels with their cashflow.
There was also a focus on retaining our head office team to ensure we were able to support our properties and maintain service levels as customers became ready, and able, to travel again.
To date, recovery has been strongest in our regional properties. Until recently, the myriad challenging requirements for international travel have given domestic travel into our regions a real boost, and it’s been heartening to see the growth in demand in the regions. As these travel restrictions ease and international travel returns, we are seeing a strong bounce back to normal in our metro hotels now, with forward bookings showing a very optimistic outlook in the months ahead.
Right now, our focus now is on assisting our franchisees to ramp up as quickly as they can as they return to, and in many cases exceed, 2019 numbers. We have invested in additional corporate sales team members, building out our Revenue Management program and made multi-million-dollar investments in our loyalty, digital and traditional marketing channels over the last two years.
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