With vaccination rates on the rise and towns and cities almost fully reopened, the return of the tourism and hospitality industry is truly exciting. Tourism in New York generated $117 billion in 2019, and the return of that segment of the economy will help small businesses throughout the state.
Resuming tourism isn’t like flipping a switch, and there are changes that your business needs to make post-COVID to ensure you can take advantage of the opportunities this re-opening brings.
Making quality improvements to your business
Many small businesses such as small hotels, bed and breakfasts, and inns have lagged in making renovations. Now that the tourism and hospitality industry is opening back up, these updates have become a necessity. While these projects may seem daunting, especially after the cash crunch that came from the pandemic, with long-term financing they could be within reach.
Basic improvements such as updated furniture and plumbing can make the difference in what your business can charge. All of these costs can be considered as part of an application for an SBA 7(a) loan, or potentially as part of an SBA 504 loan application if your business owns the property.
Additionally, you can consider offering training and education programs for your customer-facing staff. Establishing a new training program for employees has multiple benefits for you and your business. It can improve your customer’s experience with your business while improving staff morale and lowering turnover.
There are a few programs that can help companies pay for training your staff. For example, the NYC Customized Training Program can provide between $30,000 and $400,000 to cover the cost of training staff.
New opportunities for businesses in the tourism and hospitality industry
While these are a few examples of how you can make potential improvements to your business, they’re not the only things you can do. Looking at your business from the customer’s perspective might help you find other opportunities that will improve their visit.
Localism: A steadily developing trend with tourists over the past decade has been to find destinations that truly offer a local experience. They want to experience the local way of life, cuisine, and activities that area natives enjoy in their spare time. This is a big opportunity as few businesses in the tourism and hospitality industry have focused on this type of experience.
This could be a good opportunity for your business to fill this need. Maybe offer some local dishes by a well-known baker or restaurant you could collaborate with. You could also build activities for your guests that look like what you might do with a group of friends. This is also an opportunity to brand yourself and your business as a local expert.
Travel beyond major cities: National and international travelers are searching for destinations that are outside of major cities more than ever before. In New York State, we’ve seen a trend in tourists eager to enjoy the natural beauty throughout New York, such as the Finger Lakes, Adirondack Mountains., and more.
Traveling alone: After being stuck indoors during the lockdown, many people have chosen to travel alone, viewing their vacations as an act of relaxation or self-care. These guests are willing to spend greater sums of money to pamper themselves. To attract these customers, you can consider building offerings that allow them to have greater privacy and comfort as well as activities that are designed for individuals or couples.
Experience tourism: Tourists’ travel decisions have also been influenced by a search for experiences. Nearly 50% of travel decisions are based on places with an interesting history or a connection to someone’s heritage. Making travel plans that highlight a location’s history or cater to people seeking to connect with their heritage could create new opportunities for your business.
COVID-19 safety in the tourism and hospitality industry
Vaccinations have helped reduce the spread of the disease, but the reality is that we will be living with this virus at some level moving forward. In addition to state mandates, hospitality operators can take a few steps to ensure guest safety.
Verifying vaccine passports: Requesting or requiring vaccine passports will be easy when it comes to New York residents, but for international tourists, you’ll need to have a uniform approach to verifying their vaccine status. One way to verify their vaccine status is the IATA Travel Pass, which is an internationally accepted app for validating vaccine information.
Keeping rooms available for quarantine: Some guests may want or may need to quarantine on arrival even in the months to years to come. As long as you’re able to do this safely, this can be a meaningful business opportunity. Keep some rooms open for these guests and you’ll make their stay easier.
Bungalows: In line with the trend for solo traveling, small single-occupancy bungalows are in demand for their privacy. They also serve a functional purpose of mitigating close contact and the spread of the disease.
The tourism and hospitality industry is on the rebound
Domestic tourism has already rebounded significantly in the past few months. As mitigation strategies continue to progress, we can expect even more international tourists. Being prepared with the right amenities, accommodation, services as well as catering to new trends can mean a faster road to recovering your business and future opportunities.
If you need a funding boost to make your plans a reality, talk to Pursuit. Learn how we can work together to help you take advantage of these re-opening opportunities.