Hospitality Industry Steps Up to Fight COVID-19
By Richard Bradbury, VP of Strategy & Alliances, Quore
Unprecedented. A word we seem to read in every story since the novel coronavirus turned our lives upside down. There are children out of school, employees working remote, and families barred together by nothing but their front doors and the possibility of what's outside them. The world is standing still and it truly is unprecedented. But there's another word that comes to mind when I think of the toll COVID-19 has taken on the travel and hospitality industry: devastating.
That line of thinking is wrong.
Now is the time for our industry to walk in lockstep. Now is the time for innovation. Innovation isn't new to those of us in the service industry—we do it every day. Let's not forget that we solve problems and make stressful situations less stressful.
Nothing tears at my heart more than seeing an unused hotel, motel, resort or inn. These are places of safety, comfort, fun and adventure. They need to serve a purpose.
Luckily, that purpose is brewing under our feet. A lack of travel does not render properties useless, in fact, they could be more purposeful than ever. As hospitals reach capacity caring for patients infected by the coronavirus, local governments are turning to hotel owners for help.
The mayor of Chicago is offering hotels rates of $175 per night to register rooms for COVID-19 isolation, costing the city and estimated $1 million dollars, according to Fox News. In Ontario and California, city governments are already discussing how to utilize properties as shelter for the homeless population. The United States Department of Health and Human Services along with the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) are inquiring about potential lease arrangements with hotels around the US to house first responders and medical professionals, as emergency hospitals, and quarantine sites. The AHLA also launched a new initiative, Hotels for Hope, to boost collaboration between hotels and their local governments in an effort to combat COVID-19.
This is not only an opportunity for hotels to assist in the crisis, but to also remain in an altered state of operation. And with many jurisdictions offering compensation for signing up it could be what the industry needs at this time.
But there are questions that hotel operators need to consider before signing up.
How to submit
You will need to contact your local municipality to see if they are participating in such programs. If you are located in the United States, you can contact the Department of Health and Human Services for more information and fill out this form.
Whether to submit
As a property, you need to decide what is best for your operation. You will need to make sure you meet any local requirements for submission. Your local municipality will be able to guide you in this, as every location will differ.
Cleaning procedures and protocol
How prepared is your hotel for a guest potentially infected with COVID-19? You will need to review your current cleaning and maintenance requirements and adjust to comply with current health standards. Beyond that, there will need to be swift and constant communication of these and forthcoming changes to your staff. If your property is utilized for multi-stage use you may be housing recovering patients released from the hospital as well as people who are homeless and in need of self-isolation—two demographics that require varying care and consideration.
Communicating with your guest
Are you equipped to text your guests in order to provide service remotely? Additionally you must prepare to respond to those communications that are medical in nature.
If your property has a kitchen, do you plan to utilize that space? You will need to consider what procedures you need to follow to prevent the spread of the virus into and out of the kitchen. A property may decide to forego their kitchen and opt for outside food delivery. Once you do decide where to feed your new guests from, what safety precautions do staff members need to take in order to deliver that food to infected rooms? These decisions may change from property to property or by geographic region, but you will need to develop a plan with your local municipality leading the charge.
Coordinating with medical staff
Your local jurisdiction may require your property to have a medical professional on site. Not only will you need to coordinate with that medical staff member's schedule, but you will likely need to implement any sanitation standards they require as well.
Properties that choose not to use their in-house kitchens for food prep may choose to seal them off to prevent any potential virus spread to the area. What other rooms would your property consider sealing off during this period?
Personal Protective Equipment
Many countries around the world are struggling to maintain adequate supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Should your property begin housing needy populations, what PPE would you need to keep your staff safe? In what quantities? You will need to work with your local government to determine if your PPE needs are feasible.
Is there a way to utilize your staff through work from home? Are there duties that will need to be accomplished under this model that would allow workers to complete their work without exposing themselves by being on site?
While you already have plans in place for disposing of waste on your property, there may be some changes when it comes to disposing of potentially hazardous waste. Is there any additional equipment you need in order to safely dispose of waste? What procedures are needed to protect staff who are removing waste from infected guests' rooms?
This is a limited list. There will undoubtedly be more questions that arise as we prepare for the next phase of managing the COVID-19 crisis. And while the ability to aid in this pandemic is astronomical, the industry needs to come together as a whole for better implementation. Not only do we need answers, but we need guidance that our local governments aren't going to be able to provide.
Hotels function on procedure, and we are walking into a world that is lacking such. But I believe if we step forward together, this will be the first step towards getting our industry back on track and the world in a healthier state.
Hotel services providers are also stepping up. Information resources are available about traditional operations and how to continue them during this crisis. We're now seeing consortia of vendors that are looking to help with non-traditional operational needs. Check out hospitalityhelps.org. CloudBeds seeks to lead the charge here in matching room and bed availability with those organization who need it.
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Quore is an award-winning, cloud-based hotel quality optimization solution, providing the right tools to empower hotels of any size to make operations more efficient and improve guest experiences. Founded in 2012, it is the first solution ever to combine state-of-the-art technology and intuitive design to better manage all aspects of the guest experience, including preventative maintenance, guest requests and complaints, work orders, housekeeping and workforce/shift communication. Quore's software is used by more than 4,400 hotels in the U.S., and it supports hotels from the industry's largest brands, including IHG, Marriott, Hilton and Choice. The Franklin, Tennessee-based company is privately owned and was named one of America's Best Startup Employers by Forbes.
To learn more about Quore or to request a demo, visit www.quore.com.