Bob Rauch of RAR Hospitality Shares Predictions for 2021

Bob RauchIt’s not a secret that many hoteliers have been undoubtedly struggling due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Bob Rauch, CEO and president of RAR Hospitality, agrees that between hoteliers having to manage contactless technology, mask mandates, and figuring out the best way to use outdoor spaces, this year has been a challenging one, to say the least. Will hoteliers continue to face these as well as new challenges in 2021? Rauch spoke with LODGING about his predictions for the industry and the trends he sees for the year ahead.

1Going contactless and social distancing

“The trends that stick out to me the most is the combination of contactless meetings, food and beverage, and the use of technology. One of my hotels has a service robot, we use QR codes in our restaurants so nobody touches any menus, and we use commercial tables and diagraming software to distance our meetings. Being able to do meetings the way meeting planners want them done today, being able to serve guests in a restaurant where they feel safe, and using technology where appropriate I think is the single biggest trend.”

2Use of outdoor spaces

“I don’t care if you’re in Cleveland and it’s 12 degrees—you have got to figure out a way to ventilate spaces where guests feel safe. Governors are going to make it acceptable to have meetings; if we don’t do it safely the industry can’t come back. It’s really easy in San Diego and some of our Phoenix properties because it’s a little toasty outside, but the best way to use your outdoor spaces is to just make them available. We have ballrooms that we can’t use, but we do have outdoor reception spaces. We moved the seats and tables outdoors, it’s covered in part, but the part that is not [covered] makes it easier to have a larger group. In northern areas where it’s a bit nippy, it’s tougher, but you can use ballrooms and ventilate them if your state allows. Using heat, getting fresh air in, and talking about it can go a long way. Sometimes all it takes is a meeting for guests to know what it is that differentiates you.”

3Sanitation and cleanliness upgrades

“Most hoteliers have already made upgrades such as distancing, making sure people are no closer than six feet apart, and making it easy for them to use sanitation gel—the little ones you carry in your pocket are just as important as the big stations that are set up around the hotel. Another upgrade most hotels are already doing is requiring masks at all times and putting up barriers that allow team members to be separated at six feet. These are trends I see certainly continuing through 2021.”

4Making the travel experience more sustainable

“Sustainability is something that’s been talked about for decades, but no one’s really done anything with it because guests never ask for it, and that has changed. Now guests want you to recycle at the minimum, they want you to tell a story about what you’re doing that is…better for the environment. Guests are not afraid to help if they think it’s going to better the environment. Sustainably is now feasible economically; it’s not expensive. It can actually produce more profit if done properly—and guests want it so it’s clearly a trend.”

5Surviving changing market conditions

“Be aware that Airbnb and all those short-term rentals are starting to eat into our market share very rapidly; COVID has given them an opening and they’re taking advantage of it. Another thing is preserving cash. Every owner needs to sit at the ground-level of their hotels and see where every dollar goes. It’s amazing how much money you can save when you know exactly what you’re spending.”


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Isabel Vega is a LODGING Magazine Fall 2020 intern.