There are 2 influencers floating around the travel industry, FOMO and PermAnxiety. Both are based on the uneasiness and apprehensions of everyday life and travel. These are anxieties about missing out on experiences (Fear Of Missing Out, FOMO) and anxieties about terrorism, politics and economics (PermAnxiety). The travel industry is saying that these ideas are both motivators and deterrents to travel. FOMO is being used by hotel marketers to create an urgency to book reservations now, last minute deals and scarcity values are motivating one to travel. FOMO is also a deterrent in that the traveler might not travel because they do not want to miss the local barbeque that everyone will be posting about. The PermAnxiety idea is just as convoluted. It is said that the cure for PermAnxiety is travel, but that travel causes PermAnxiety. Both concepts are very complex travel influencers. Catering to these trends can be just as stressful. The hospitality industry thrives on opportunities to make individuals feel welcome and stress-free. That is why I think these ideas, as complex as they are, can be a welcome challenge to innkeepers and hosts. The holiday season brings its own anxiety and adds to the challenge. Here are some of my ideas to cater to these new anxiety-ridden guests.
- Create Instagram-able and Pinterest worthy spaces. Now more than ever your property needs to have wow factors. By using the visual social platforms, you can create a friendship with your brand as well as generate links to your website. FOMO guests crave photo-ops, so create them. Permanxiety guests might be less anxious if they sense you provide a warm and safe space, as reflected in your carefully curated visuals you share on these platforms. Paint a wall a dramatic color creating a fun backdrop for their selfy. Put your company name or web address on your breakfast plates so when the inevitable picture of breakfast is posted on their social page, your name is posted as well. This holiday season create a memorable Christmas tree (#ChristmasTree) or do something fun with holiday lights (#HolidayLights).
- Create a “what the locals do” page on your website or link to a great local blog. This idea is derived from Airbnb experiences. Guests will feel comfortable if they are experiencing the best the town has to offer. Make it easy for them to find the hidden gems of the town. If your guests are in contact with knowledgeable, friendly and confident hosts, the stress of missing their friends back home will be diluted. PermAnxiety guests will appreciate learning about areas that have been vetted for them before they go. Informed guests are happy guests. Traveling during the holidays is stressful, make it easy for them to get around and enjoy the area.
- I always had a rule in my dining room, never talk about religion or politics. Stay away from discussing current events and focus on fun things to do in your area. Weather can also be an awkward topic. If you choose to discuss the weather, make sure you can suggest things to do no matter what the weather.
- Make sure the guest room is outfitted for today’s gadgets. I know this sounds counterproductive to soothing anxiety caused by content on gadgets, but believe me, if your guest cannot stay connected, they will be stressed out. Do not force the hands of your guests, just provide an environment of choices. They can choose to go on the nature walk or they can choose to stay in the room and read news on their gadgets. Taking away options to be connected creates stress.
5. Listen and assist your guests. All suggestions listed above are great, but in the end, making a true connection with your guests is priceless. Sometimes a guest has to put a voice to his/her fears to understand if they are really a threat. Little things like printing boarding passes can go a long way. Assistance with holiday travel details, such as passports, car pick-ups, and airplane check-ins are encouraged. For both types of guests, make sure you say thank you. You want to affirm that they made a great decision venturing out on their vacation.
I hope this holiday hosts and Innkeepers keep their own wits about themselves and have fun with the season. Remember as the Danish writer Peter Hoeg wrote, “Traveling tends to magnify all human emotions”. If you can swing the pendulum of emotion from anxiety to absolute delight, you have done your job. Good Luck and Happy Holidays!