During a Recovery Connections session on Dec. 2 — part of HSMAI’s Road to Recovery 2020 program — FROSCH Travel’s Lara Leibman, Genentech’s Amy Perrone, SMMC, CCC, and Pleasant Holidays’ Jack Richards joined Groups360’s Tim Flors to share their perspectives on successful approaches to meeting customer expectations.
Leisure travel is still happening: “Leisure travel for us was at its lowest in April and May,” said Richards, Pleasant Holidays’ president and CEO. “Although we are still below historic levels now, we are seeing a pickup in leisure travel for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021. For example, in November we had more than 800 bookings for people traveling in 2020. It has been extremely last-minute, and people are staying fairly close to home. The only international travel is to places like Mexico and the Caribbean. It’s not about price anymore, it’s about safety and risk of infection. Our partners that convey safety and sanitation protocols to guests are the ones that are getting the bookings. We’re quite optimistic going forward, assuming the vaccines are distributed relatively quickly.”
Hotels are still coming up with creative ideas to encourage travel: “We’ve all had a lot of time to think about what’s important to us,” said Leibman, FROSCH Travel’s executive vice president. “One hotel put in a flexible check-in and checkout time. You pick the times you want to check in and check out and don’t occur any additional cost. That’s their way of saying, ‘We place a value on your time and want to make sure you realize that.’ Several other companies have had promotions on connecting rooms, and what’s really clever is that you could convert it into a gym or an office. Wellness is the future, so it’s a great way of integrating that into your stay. Others have come out with extended-stay offers that offer you unique amenities like personal-training sessions if you stay for 30 or more days. These are ways we can show our travelers that we care and want to make travel as stress-free and safe as possible.”
It’s still uncertain if we’ll ever return to pre-COVID levels of meetings: “Every time there is a crisis, there’s an idea of doing everything virtual,” said Peronne, Genentech’s manager of strategic meetings management programs. “The difference between this crisis and the last one is that technology has come a long way. It’s also an initiative of a lot of companies to reduce their CO2 emissions. Companies are seeing the opportunity in sustainability by figuring out what they can do virtually. From a corporate perspective, I really don’t think we will get back to 2019 levels. It might get close, but it’s hard to say. Everyone goes into the mode of ‘Let’s do things differently,’ and usually it doesn’t last, but this time it might.”
Recovery Connections is a weekly program with sales, marketing, and revenue optimization tracks that mix best-practices presentations with interactive small-group discussions. Sign up to watch a recording of this session, access an on-demand library — and register for the next session, “From Revenue to Profit: Can you Make the Shift?,” at 2 p.m. EST on Dec. 9.