The old adage of “making hay while the sun shines” is core to the success of every hospitality and outdoor recreation business, and so it is no coincidence that those who tend to put up the most “hay” are also the ones who understand the critical nature of the work that goes into preparing for peak season. As the travel industry gradually returns to a “new” normal, and a growing wave of travelers make plans for long-awaited vacations, the forecast for this summer is extremely busy, hence the importance of utilizing this time to get ready cannot be understated.
Businesses looking to gain a strong foothold in the new competitive landscape are focused on these key elements:
Staffing: Prior to the pandemic the availability of qualified personnel was extremely limited for several years (particularly in Housekeeping and F&B). Managers were often forced to run short-staffed, and since OT was the norm, team members were stretched thin. The upshot of the seismic turnover in the hospitality workforce over the last 12 months is that a once shallow labor pool now has some depth. Employers understand this is a rare window of opportunity, and they are rushing to take advantage before it closes. If there ever was a time to reimagine the scope of your operation, acquire talent, and rebuild your team to suit, this is it.
Market Expansion: While the travel economy was down by every metric, the public’s appetite for outdoor recreation rose to a whole new level. Rather than taking this for a short-term trend, many in the experiential travel sector see a legitimate moment to increase market share, and operators are focused on engaging with a new generation of first-time clients with whom they will likely do business for years to come. Whether your approach is conservative or aggressive, now is a great time to make calculated adjustments to your business model. This could mean lengthening the season of operation, upgrading, or adding accommodations, or implementing new guest services and amenities.
Pricing: One of the lessons learned from the pandemic is the true value of gathering and enjoying the company of loved ones in safe and beautiful places. In so many words, the experience is worth more to people than ever and they want to secure their place. Consequently, the most popular dates of stay at many ranches and lodges are quickly selling out for peak season. With demand so strong, and sure to increase with the greater distribution of vaccines, destinations are rightfully raising prices on the inventory that remains available in 2021, and also making rate increases for 2022.