This week we streamed the second webinar in our new series with over 130 people joining Design Insider Editor Alys Bryan as she interviewed Ron Swidler, Chief Innovation Officer at The Gettys Group. Ron discussed the hospitality sector in this time of crisis, what it will take for guests to return and whether hotels will be ready for the new digital world.
The Gettys Group is a family of hospitality-focused companies. For more than 30 years, they have guided developers, operators and brands in the creation of meaningful and rewarding hospitality experiences around the world through interior design, branding, procurement and development. The group is currently actively working on over 50 projects, at all tiers of the chain scale and multiple project types, which includes 4 of their own developments under construction.
Watch the webinar in full here and read Ron’s answers to the attendees questions below.
Q1: Given the economic hardships incurred, won’t most travel consumers consider cost first?
As travel comes back, it might be helpful to look at leisure travel separate from business travel. For the leisure travel sector, we would expect to see a high rate of redemption of loyalty points in branded hotels, and a preference for non-city-center hotels. For business travel, we are likely to see the strongest rebound in midscale and upper-midscale hotels first, where cost is a strong consideration.
Q2: Do you think hotels may begin to adopt some of the delivery platforms such as Door Dash or Postmates to keep some of their F&B outlet employees working?
Yes, and in fact, some hotel restaurants and bars are remaining open for curbside pickup and delivery. I found that Apron, located at the Kimpton Overland Hotel in Hapeville, near Atlanta, Georgia is doing just that for lunch and dinner where they will bring take-away to the porte cochere.
Q3: Should hotels look to deploy biometric identification methods such as Clear so that when guests return they don’t have to touch the credit card reader upon check in?
I think that all touchless check-in and room access will be reconsidered in light of what we are going through. And, it likely that those technologies will be adopted faster as a result. That said, there are legal hurdles around biometric data (finger prints, face scans) that have prevented widespread adoption, including in my home state of Illinois.
Q5: Do you feel domestic tourism will return earlier than international?
Yes, definitely. Bloomberg News did a piece yesterday interviewing an infectious diseases physician in Australia. He believes that international travel will be off the table for the next six months. While domestic travel within North America, Australia and Southeast Asia could be on course to return to normal by June if current efforts aimed at curbing the coronavirus outbreak are successful.
Q6: Will this bring on the end to design trade shows as more people will be less willing to travel and products can be launched digitally?
I don’t think that this will bring an end to design or other trade shows. I believe that many shows are merely delayed until travel is safe again. In the meantime, we are seeing a surge of virtual tradeshows and conference replacing the in-person events. I would expect that this pandemic will lead to widespread acceptance of this new kind of virtual participation, which could be a great new business platform for many companies. Regarding design trade shows, specifically…these shows rely heavily upon tangible furnishings and finishes, ie: the look and feel of these materials and items. There is no substitute for feeling a fabric firsthand or sitting in that stylish lounger.
Q7: How important will the role Market Research will play into the new ‘needs and wants’ of consumers?
Market Research will be more important than ever to gain an understanding current and changing consumer and guest sentiment. In the most recent past, guests have offered up their evaluations and opinions post-stay at hotels as a generous and largely unrewarded gift back to the hotel and brand. It will be interesting to see how guests might be rewarded for sharing their valuable real-time opinions going forward.
If you have any further questions for Ron please do email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our 3rd webinar will take place on Wednesday 15th April at 4pm. We will be speaking with Dr Craig Knight, Chartered Occupational Psychologist at Identity Realization about appiness in the workplace, the effect of empowerment at work, positive spaces for working from home and the impact of COVID19
on the workplace. registration is open here.