Not a day goes by that we hear information on coronavirus and its negative impact on travel and hospitality businesses. Yet, the hotel industry had to deal with different crises and viruses earlier. For example, the SARS virus impacted the industry drastically in 2003. There was a 50% decline in hotel bookings, which led to a drop of nearly 9.4 million in international tourist arrivals, with losses estimated at between $30 billion and 50 billion. Despite the above-mentioned facts, the travel industry managed to register immense growth by 2006, with a total contribution of $5,160 billion to the global GDP within the year.
The truth is the pandemic is temporary and shall pass. Thus, we should continue to plan for the future, as well as take steps to reduce long-term damage from coronavirus and drive faster recovery. Here are some tips to help hospitality overcome the difficulties that COVID-19 brings.
Adopt cloud technologies
Remote working becomes the norm for today. Thanks to innovations and technology, even such a people-centric industry as hospitality experiences an increase in telecommuting. In fact, hoteliers can manage all the hotel processes without even being there. With cloud-based Property Management Systems, they are able to control all operations at any time from anywhere.
Sure, PMS systems are not something new. Hoteliers have been using them for years. But in these times, this system can bring even greater benefits. For example, if the software goes with mobile concierge apps, which can help engage with the guests without personal contact, starting from check-in to meal and service orders.
With technology, hoteliers can transfer some hotel jobs to completely remote work, such as sales-related or business development positions, eCommerce, Digital Marketing, etc.
Attract millennial travelers
According to the New York Post, millennials are the most eager to get back out and explore the world after the coronavirus ends. Sure, they are worried about the outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, they are more fearless and more desiring of unique experiences right here right now. As of now, they are taking advantage of the crazy low prices showing no fear of the virus.
What's more, millennials are expected to be the first to start traveling once the restrictions are relaxed. Thus, we recommend considering the exact ways how to attract them and include them as an essential step in the business recovery plan. For example, 90% of millennials value brand authenticity over "perfect and packaged" messaging of the hotel (according to SayNTouch.com). They appreciate a high value on transparency, trust, and brand authenticity. In terms of coronavirus communications, try to outline what you are doing early, often, and openly.
Also, millennials are more in tune with advances in mobility and social media. Apart from regular communications, you should adopt technology if you haven't done this yet. Being tech-savvy travelers, they want a mobile-first guest experience, personalized messaging, deals, and offers, the 24/7 service, and more. That said, it is hard to overestimate the importance of concierge apps adoption.
Use this time for hotel maintenance and renovation
Coronavirus outbreak doesn't mean hoteliers are closing doors and are just waiting for this period to end. It's a perfect time to catch up and improve. Whether it is a spontaneous renovation or completing your Property Improvement Plan, there's no better time to do this. To begin, you can make a list of items, things, and everything that needs to be repaired, do an inventory of maintenance supplies, laundry room systems check, railings and balcony checks, elevators, life safety checks, pool systems, ensure all lights are off, etc.
It's time to conduct a deep cleaning: A/C cleaning, carpet shampoo, pull furniture, get under bed frames, clean behind frames/mirrors, vacuums cleaned with fresh belts and filters, and more.
Focus on meal delivery from the hotel restaurant
Hoteliers can take steps to increase restaurant sales during the COVID-19. Reconsider your marketing campaigns and try to find effective means of limiting declines like offering specials or deals (two-for-one meals, a free dessert). Even though you might lose money by giving away free items, it still helps increase the bottom line.
Remember about concierge apps that can help provide both hotel guests and non-guests with the option of meal delivery right to their rooms without even talking to someone. You can find more information here: https://hotelfriend.com.
Stay up-to-date on available forms of relief
Be aware of government assistance and financial support during coronavirus in your area. In most countries of the world, governments defer payments, cut taxes, launch business support grant funds, make low-interest working capital loans available to businesses, etc.
In addition, large and small companies try to help their employees, customers, and the community by providing free software, resources, sharing services, courses, and more. For example, HotelFriend launched a free software program to help hotels overcome the severe economic impact on their business caused by the novel coronavirus.
Reconsider existing health and safety techniques, policies, and procedures
Given the contagious nature of the virus, it is crucial to have appropriate health and safety policies in place, especially for hotel business that relies on in-person interactions.
In these contexts, hoteliers should promote proper health and safety measures, which may include the following:
- Self-service pay systems.
- Orders through mobile apps.
- Non-contact service and order deliveries.
- Complimentary hand-sanitizer stationed at the entrances and exits.
- Suspension of unnecessary work-place gatherings.
- Readiness to deal with staffing reductions.
Also, hoteliers should closely monitor employees' health conditions and take reasonable precautions to ensure that the illness does not spread.
Thus, hoteliers should implement, amend, reconsider, update or adopt set protocols to ensure the staff is not contributing to the spread of infection. The same refers to health policies, routine disinfecting of commonly used surfaces and other areas, specific actions to prevent the spread of the illness. It is good to have a detailed course of action for operating costs, worker's compensation and business interruption insurance coverages.
Ensure the accuracy of the information on the coronavirus
As new information is constantly appearing, not all of it is accurate. Hoteliers should take special care to share verified information and not contribute to spreading misinformation to customers and employees. You should read, share or post information from trusted sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other trusted health care providers.
In addition to potential misinformation, you can become a victim of a scam. Unfortunately, scammers take advantage of fears and anxiety and seek ways to use financial and other sensitive data, including confidential health information of employees and customers. So make sure you protect yourself against scams. If you have fallen victim to a scam, report it to a fraud reporting center in your area.
In the end, there is a variety of ways how to overcome these unexpected and challenging times and recover. Taking the actions above may help you return to doing business as usual.
HotelFriend is a global provider of business software with offices across Europe. The company specializes in R&D in the travel and hospitality sectors, cloud computing, e-commerce, CRM, ERP, and the development of mobile and desktop apps.