Hospitality in a Downturn – An Emergency Toolkit
By James Lemon, Founder & CEO, The Growth Works
The hospitality industry is undertaking unprecedented levels of crisis management in response to the coronavirus outbreak. For some hotels, sadly, it is just about managing the worst outcomes including closing the doors, letting some of the team go, and working with suppliers and financiers to manage cash. For these hotels, once closure plans are in place, the priority will be looking ahead and watching for the recovery and putting the hotel in the best possible place to bounce back fast, as our industry usually does.
Our team at The Growth Works have put together an Emergency Toolkit to help.
The impact on hospitality brands has been fast, drastic and very real. Hotels are reporting significant drops in occupancy, high cancellations and unprecedentedly low levels of forward bookings. Recent days have seen travel bans, and government advice to stay away from public places including hospitality businesses. The mood is understandably low.
Promisingly, we are seeing hotels, management groups and chains act swiftly and sensibly, either acting on worst case action plans or working with their teams to understand what options exist to soften the downturn. In the short term, it is critical to react by conducting difficult operating and staff discussions.
It's also advisable to work with investors and banks to understand your options. It's important during this time of reaction and action, that we don't go too far into crisis mode and neglect to plan for the eventual recovery - cutting room rates, slashing marketing budgets to zero, abandoning longer-term investment projects, etc. - as historical data suggests some knee-jerk reactions can do more damage than good in the long run, and often in the short run too.
We've also been overwhelmed at the level of support that is out there for hotels - partners sensitively offering their time, expertise and solutions for free or at heavily reduced rates, to do what they can to help hotels. Through our network of hotel professionals and hotel tech partners, we've been working hard to identify and bring hotels the creative partnership opportunities that hotel brands and properties can embrace to minimise some of the impact of coronavirus, unlocking some new revenues, managing costs and laying the foundation to build for recovery when it comes.
We've identified four areas, all focused on proven, fast, impactful returns on investment that require little upfront costs and can be set up straight away. Below, you'll find a few highlights - high impact solutions that offer low-cost trials - from our Emergency Toolkit eBook, which features many more opportunities and links to our partners.
Prepare for Recovery
It's hard to see past the current situation, but it's important to note that travel trends often rebound after a downturn. For example, Ctrip reported an 82% increase in flights on the other side of the 2003 SARS outbreak. This means you need to be prepared for the recovery and ready to tailor your marketing campaigns when sentiment shifts.
Get some expert advice on where you can use technology to enhance performance as business returns. For some it could be underlying systems like revenue or channel management, for others, it may be on-property technology like digital guest check-ins.
One option we love is the live booking of meeting rooms, where corporate or leisure customers can book small and medium meetings directly on your site, or third-party channels. With a partner like MeetingPackage, prepayment means hotels receive income immediately, and with an automated process, you save time too.
Capture New Revenues
The most popular areas we're seeing traction to soften the financial impact today are gift voucher sales. Our chosen partner SK Chase is helping hotel businesses market packages for leisure breaks, afternoon tea, romantic weekends, or even just monetary amounts. Guests can redeem well into the future, when usual travel habits resume.
Additionally, in the UK we are seeing hotels experimenting with partners like UberEats to keep kitchen staff in work. They take care of all marketing, sales and payments, your kitchen just needs to prepare the food. Using one of UberEats' brands will likely drive more bookings than your own restaurant - unless it's a local favourite of course!
There are local procurement agencies in many cities, who can offer you advice on negotiating with suppliers and cutting back on spend. They are often free to use and will simply take a portion of the savings you make.
Optimise Existing Revenues
For those hotels that are able to capture demand from staycations, it's important to capture revenues from every guest. Expert partners like Oaky can offer a pre-stay email for guests to tailor their stay and understand their options for room upgrades, room service and much more. At a time of uncertainty, this knowledge can be a critical part of the guest experience.
Please get in touch today if you'd like to discuss your current situation and the options available to you, with no cost or obligation. Or click here to download our free Emergency Toolkit eBook to find out what options could be available and which of our partners could help you.