Four months into 2020 and the world is battling against the ongoing pandemic – Coronavirus (COVID-19). While the world awaits to see the light at the end of the tunnel, the pandemic has brought the hospitality and travel sector to a standstill. With travel plans being dropped, hotels are perhaps the worst affected business since occupancies are trending towards zero and a lot of inventory is lined up to go unused as the peak season hits.
The hospitality businesses have to pull off all the stops to withstand and survive this disaster. Having said this, let’s look into some measures for the hotels to survive from COVID-19.
- Debunk Myths and leverage the power of Real-Time Information
The current COVID-19 pandemic raised a lot of queries, myths and facts. We are bombarded with information all day, every day, as a result, often relying on intuitions to decide whether something is accurate. Big retail giant, Amazon stepped in when sales of items that guaranteed in treating or even curing COVID-19 started to appear on its site. Surprisingly, decision-makers are also facing challenges in accessing information while dealing with the crisis. It is very crucial to leverage the power of real-time accurate information for the best action to be taken.
Scientists have developed live, interactive maps for researchers, public health authorities as well as general public for tracking the reach of the pandemic in just a click away. The best sources to go to for reliable information are government health websites and WHO (World Health Organization) who is working extensively to analyse data, provide advice, help countries prepare for additional investigations, response and control actions. Bad information about the pandemic is everywhere, but being vigilant will help you to take preventive measures and spread facts not fear.
- Implement Cost Control
With the economic slowdown being predicted stemming from the coronavirus concern, controlling your overhead costs is the wisest decision you can make to keep your hotel business secure and less impacted. With the decrease in reservations after the end of the lockdown, hoteliers should be mindful in planning out any short term cost reduction actions to ensure that these activities do not hurt business opportunities and brand value in the long run.
For instance, you can save your expenses by scheduling on-call shifts for hotel staff instead of having them work full-time. Accurate demand forecasting can be done to enhance hotel’s labour scheduling. Once the forecasting data is made accessible, managers can regulate the areas which are most affected by the number of guests staying in the hotel. The number of guests a hotel carries directly impacts the housekeeping needs. In such cases, you can outsource as much housekeeping staff is required.
- Automation to the rescue
With the hotel industry right now facing an unprecedented challenge, hotels tend to hit the panic button whenever there’s a topic to invest in a technology. Well, technology can’t save you RIGHT NOW but investing in these advancements can help in cutting down your hotel’s costs and is the key to run an efficient and consistent business.
You can get your hands on an all in one hospitality technology which includes hotel software integrated with Self Check-In applications, Staff and Guest Devices which is AI (Artificial Intelligence) powered. This technology takes care of front desk activities, housekeeping activities, guest room automation and everything else which in turn reduces the need of dedicated labour behind several operations thus delivering utmost customer satisfaction and even saves time.
- Work on Hygiene & Sanitization
Viruses don’t need visas. They can enter through anywhere. So during this pandemic and even after that, hotel’s first and foremost priority should be – Hygiene & Sanitization.
- Educate your staff about the preventive measures they should take on the hotel premises. Brief them about the guidelines provided by health authorities.
- Provide them with surgical masks, alcohol based sanitizer and gloves to wear. Make strict rules to always wear masks and use sanitizer frequently.
- If possible, try to install alcohol based sanitizers at your front desk, reception area, hotel lobby, meeting rooms, restaurants and cafes.
- High touch areas in public spaces include tables in the lobby area and buttons on elevators, water fountains and ice and vending machines. Pens at the front desk and room keys and key cards should also be cleaned with disinfectant.
- Linens may become contaminated with the virus. Bed scarfs and bed spreads should be washed more frequently with added disinfectant when washing laundry.
- Ensure to have at least two doctors on call when needed. Educate your staff about the basic symptoms of the virus.
- Keep yourself and staff informed with updated and credible information on the COVID-19 virus.
When taking all the above measures, keep your guests posted about the same. Highlight these measures being taken at your hotel in real-time on your website and social media platforms. So, your guests can know that their stay at your hotel in future is going to be safe and pleasant.
- Prepare for Post COVID-19 Recovery Strategy
Once the virus is contained and travel restrictions are lifted, domestic traffic is expected to pick up first, followed closely by international travel. As travel is on pause, hoteliers can utilize this situation as a chance to re-evaluate their business. They should stay connected with past and future guests through social media, email and editorial content which will entertain and add value to maintain a strong brand relationship.
Amid the crisis, hotels tend to make the mistake of reducing their prices to induce more occupancy. Cutting rates won’t suddenly increase demand if consumers are stuck on a no-travel ban. Hotels lowering their prices in the face of a market slowdown can face significant challenges when the demand picks up. Instead, you can focus on bringing back those guests who have cancelled their reservations because of this outbreak by offering attractive packages or discounts. Rightly being said, there is no harm in doing something instead of doing nothing.
Pandemics are a serious wake up call for all industries and no one can dim the impact of the COVID-19 but a strategized roadmap can neutralize the impact on your business. You can use these strategies and a strong leadership to get through this tough phase. Always remember to “Keep Calm and Carry On”.
In a nutshell, PREPARE, Don’t Panic!