It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted hotels across the globe. With travel restrictions, lockdowns, and quarantine orders in place, the whole situation closely resembles that of 2003 when the SARS outbreak devastated the hotel industry. Around 9.4 million international tourist arrivals were dropped that year and the industry as a whole suffered massive losses (which were estimated at $30-50 billion). Despite the enormous setback, the travel industry managed to recover and in 2006 saw immense growth, contributing to around $5 billion to the global GDP.
While there is no end in sight for the current pandemic, the truth is that it too shall pass. When exactly it will end is anyone’s guess, but the best thing we can do is to plan ahead and make necessary adjustments to keep our businesses afloat. Here’s how the hotel industry can recover from COVID-19 by renovating and planning for lower guest volumes.
Renovations and hotel maintenance
Just because the coronavirus threat still exists, that doesn’t mean hoteliers should close their doors and ride out the pandemic. In fact, it’s the perfect opportunity to make custom designs as well as conduct renovations and hotel maintenance. If you’re looking to finalize your Property Improvement Plan, now is the best time to do so. To start with, you want to ensure that the hotel’s HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems are in good working order along with upkeeping furniture, fixtures, and room furnishings.
From there, you can move on to deep cleaning the A/C, carpets, bed frames, window sills, and the like. Make sure to check in with the maintenance department and have them go over the entire hotel for a thorough inspection. Improving the condition of the establishment can go a long way towards increasing guest satisfaction and enhance profitability now and in the future.
Telecommuting is the new norm and with social distancing measures being strongly emphasised, more and more hotel staff are working remotely than ever. Even a people-centric sector like the hotel industry can take advantage of cloud technologies and fulfil hotel processes anytime, anywhere. With cloud-based Property Management Systems, hoteliers can manage their operations and still be functional even in the middle of a pandemic.
PMS systems bring forth plenty of benefit for remote workers, with one example being mobile concierge integration. This allows hotel staff to engage with guests without physical contact, whether it be fulfilling meal orders or check-in, check-out services. Cloud technologies are key to maintaining hotel operations and will likely be a major work arrangement moving forward.
Appropriate health and safety procedures
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is imperative for hotels to adopt appropriate health and safety policies to protect both the hotel staff and the guests. Hotel industries rely on in-person interactions and if done with proper social distancing, it can make the hotel a safer place for guests to stay in. Here are some examples:
- Implement self-service payment systems
- Facilitate orders through mobile apps
- Non-contact food service deliveries
- Complimentary hand sanitizer at entrance/exit points
- Prohibiting unnecessary workplace gatherings
- Preparation in working with reduced staff
Employers should closely monitor the health condition of their hotel staff to ensure they’re fit to work. Routine disinfection of high-touch surfaces like door handles, doorknobs, light switches, and other areas with frequent hand contact should be performed on a regular basis. Having a detailed course of action for worker compensation, operating cost, and business interruption insurance coverages can help minimise financial loss and manage your bottom line.
Keep an eye out on government assistance and financial support for COVID-19 in your location. Most countries across the globe launch business support funds, slash taxes, defer payments, and offer low-interest working capital loans to businesses in hopes of helping them bounce back from the pandemic. Receiving any form of financial aid is a huge boon for hotels who are already operating at a loss so stay up-to-date and check in on government assistance funds to help support your business.
Dealing with low-volume guests
Given that the occupancy rates will go down, the best thing you can do is to look after the guests you have right now. Hoteliers should provide reliable, fact-checked information about COVID-19 and inform their guests on how to prevent the disease from spreading. With so many news headlines scattered across multimedia platforms, it’s easy for people to feel anxious and afraid. Reassure your guests that you’re taking precautionary measures to limit the spread of the disease and you’re sharing verified information from trusted sources only.
Fear-mongering is a real thing and many scammers are looking to take advantage of the opportunity by phishing data from unsuspecting victims like their credit cards, confidential healthcare information, and more. Remind your guests to protect themselves against suspicious emails or text messages and refrain from sharing sensitive information to anyone that isn’t a direct representative of your hotel.
It truly is a challenging time for the hotel industry. Having to deal with the coronavirus while maintaining business operations can prove difficult for most hoteliers. But when armed with information, hoteliers can make smarter decisions and weather the financial repercussions brought by the pandemic. Use this information to better handle the COVID-19 situation for you and your guests.