A lot has changed since March. For those of us that love hotels, these changes have been especially painful. We’ve sorely missed the hotel experience, from the lobby bars to (gasp) the sprawling conferences.

Yet we adapt. We’re resilient beings. We learn new safety practices and develop new habits that keep us safe from everyday dangers. 

And yes, the hotel experience is really different these days. As many of us plan fall “workcations” and winter holiday trips, we wanted to know what travelers expect from hotels. We asked 1,057 for their expectations at re-opened hotels. Here’s what we found.

The top guest expectations

As expected, the top guest expectations for re-opened hotels were around safety and sanitation. The top expectations were for hand sanitation stations, mask requirements and welcome packages with safety items. Many guests also expect more contactless options at the front desk (39%) and for hotels to limit access to guests only (37%).

What Do People Expect from the Guest Experience at a Re-Opened Hotel?

Travelers are also looking for deals — perhaps even more so than usual! 39% of respondents wanted to see discounted rates and/or special packages from hotels. This reflects both the dramatic drop in demand on the hotel side and the general “savings” mindset of travelers today. 

“U.S. savings rate hits 33% as coronavirus causes Americans to curb spending.” –CNBC

Hotel amenities during a pandemic

The other big adjustment around COVID is related to hotel amenities. With social distancing and strict rules around indoor events, hotels have had to reduce hours and temporarily close property amenities. 

Yet, a big proportion of guests — 43% — still want daily housekeeping service. That’s a major thing, as you’d think that most guests would prefer to avoid that service.

When we asked guests to prioritize their top three expectations, we found that the welcome package landed on top: 44% of travelers expect a welcome package with safety items like hand sanitizer and masks. This is obviously a new expectation but one that hotels should consider for highlighting safety practices with guests!

Which safety precautions are most important to have for re-opened hotels?

COVID safety fees? Perhaps

While it’s not yet common, some hotels and restaurants have begun charging an additional “COVID safety surcharge” to account for increased expenses during the pandemic. From disposable masks to hand sanitizer to plastic barriers, it’s been expensive to operate a business during COVID. These fees are meant to offset some of these costs so businesses have a greater chance to survive the pandemic.

Predictably, many were tired of fees. But surprisingly, a solid percentage was amenable to fees: 46% of respondents were either understanding of the fees (but disliked them) or saw them as necessary for survival. 

How do you feel about paying a COVID surcharge when staying at a hotel?

So how much are guests willing to pay? 30% of respondents said nothing at all, while 44% said anything under $19 is fair. A further 18% would pay anywhere from $20 to $50 for a COVID safety fee.

The reviews are in: hotels are doing a decent job during the pandemic

We also wanted to get a sense of how well hotels were meeting guest expectations during the pandemic. For those guests that have stayed at a hotel during this period, here’s how they rated their experience. Overall, not bad at all! Hotels are doing a really admirable job at keeping guests safe and meeting their expectations. 

Here's how people who've stayed at hotels during COVID rate their experience, including interactions with staff and the cleanliness of common areas, rooms.

Will guests stay again at a hotel?

And yes, most guests felt really good about the guest experience. It met their expectations enough to give 72% of respondents the confidence to stay at a hotel again soon. 

On the flip side, 23% weren’t totally comfortable with their experience and stated that they would be more careful with choosing a hotel for their next stay. A small percentage — 4% — had a really bad experience, one that put them off hotels for the foreseeable future. 

See the full infographic 👇 👀

HotesByDay asked travelers to share their expectations of the guest experience in the age of COVID. Read the infographic.
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Nick is a longtime travel writer and journalist covering the business of travel. Nick is also the principal of Ghost Works Communications, helping tech brands from around the world amplify their brand voice.
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