Rental car companies are poised to reverse market share loss to ride share and public transportation as hotel travel recovers from COVID-19.
In Part I of the Traveler Listening Post – jointly created by Coyle Hospitality and IntersectionCX – hotel travelers overwhelmingly forecast rental cars as a critical mode of transportation for the ‘middle leg’ between airports and hotel destinations.
While air passenger travel is at historic lows, travel is slowly starting to emerge from a ‘COVID-19 Coma.’ Hotels are already looking to attract leisure travelers from their local and regional drive markets to begin restoring occupancy levels.
“As guests increasingly arrive to hotels by personal cars, hotels will be impacted in how they supply (and charge for) parking, how they will staff the door, as well as implementing safety procedures in handling cars and parking,” predicted Jeff Gurtman, Managing Director of Coyle Hospitality.
This is a good time for hotel operators to tighten-up service at the door, which is often composed of an outside parking vendor and its own door and bell staff. “Hotel operators need to engage the discussion about arriving cars with their guests via their websites and during the reservation process,” says Gurtman. “Guests will want to know what happens to their car upon arrival and will need to feel safe about it before they book.”
Added Matt Valenti, Principal of Intersection CX and co-author of the research series, “Expectations for the arrival experience will continue to change, creating opportunities for hotel brands to create differentiated experiences, not only in operational effectiveness but also in end-to-end service delivery by employees.”
With the lucrative business travel segment still on the horizon coinciding with the apparent fragility of ride share’s dominance at airports, the opportunity to own the middle leg appears available for the taking.
A seamless experience across airline, car, and hotel could create brand preference and loyalty. “Price will always be a part of perceptions of value. However, creating arrival experiences beyond the hotel door, making things easy for customers, and in today’s environment, consistently re-assuring safety, will create emotional connections with customers beyond price alone,” says Valenti.
Hotel Operators should:
- Expand parking options to include convenient and contactless self-parking
- Determine the mode of transportation for arriving guests in advance of the stay
- Publish policies detailing how cars (and luggage) will be attended
- Train staff and valet vendors regarding arrival, stored and departing cars