Industry Update
Opinion Article14 April 2020

How Each Hotel Department Can Start Preparing for A "New Normal"​ Re-opening

By Robert Hernandez, Chief Data Scientist at Origin World Labs

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I think it is safe to say that most hotel people know that no one is going to pull a switch and everything will be back to pre-February 2020. The re-opening of hotels will likely be gradual, done by risk assessment, and it will probably include many restrictions. Knowing that, we should not just sit home and do nothing, we can prepare so that we are ready. Here are just a few projects that you could be working on right now to get ready for the re-opening of your hotel.

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By the way, this list is based on the scientific process of baseless, wild speculation, while waiting out the quarantine.

F&B and Restaurant

  • Re-draw your floor plan so that there is a minimum of 6 feet between tables.
  • Do the same for your bar chairs. Mark their positions on the floor.
  • Re-do your shift schedule for different % of the usual business. In other words, one schedule each for 30% of last year's business, 50%, 80%, etc. You'll be able to explain to your staff why they are getting only a fraction of last year's hours.
  • Research which food costs will increase when you order less volume.
  • Move kitchen stations (if at all possible) to create more space.
  • Create a re-opening menu with items that limit the number of cooks in the kitchen.

Front Office/Reservations

  • In expectation of occupancy restrictions, add "Covid19 Out-of-Order" designation in your PMS system. These rooms will be tracked differently than regular OOO rooms.
  • Decide which rooms you will take out-of-order to ensure social distancing and limit elevator use.
  • You may have to read the temperature of all guests when they check-in so decide on whether that will happen at the front door or front desk. You may want to start writing an SOP for this.
  • Start talking to your GM about the possibility of requiring a Covid19 affidavit to be signed at the front desk where guests confirm that they have not been close to anyone with virus symptoms.
  • Start crafting a Covid19 disclosure for Phone Reservations to read to each guest and to post on the website (with an electronic "Agree" button).
  • If your credit card scanner does not accept contact-less cards, get one that does.

Finance/Revenue Management

  • Add a new line for "Covid19 Out-of-Order" rooms to your Pace, Forecast, and Yield reports. This will allow you to better compare Year-over-Year results this year and next year. If you bundle all the OOOs together you will affect the variances.
  • Find alternate years to Pace against, maybe 2009. All Pace reports will be negative this year and positive next year so you have to put the number in a different context.
  • If there are occupancy limitations, you may be sold out every night, so you have to find alternative metrics to track the strength of the market. Try putting together data from your POS or CRM to track KPIs like average guest spend for all outlets year-over-year.
  • Clean up your promotion list, most of them will not work in a world where non-refundable rates will be shunned.

Operations/Engineering

  • Establish process for changing room access and locker distribution for social distancing.
  • Simulate common area distancing scenarios, furniture distribution, common bathroom usage rules.
  • Do you allow access to the pool by reservation only? If you do, you will need a process for that.

Marketing/Sales

  • Write re-opening email that lists all the precautions you are taking.
  • Practically every page on your website will need a pop-up advisory so might as well start loading those now.
  • Compile "Best Guests" list from your CRM to send personalized messages. A simple email blast will be lost in everyone else's email blast.
  • Redraw your meeting space floor plans for social distancing requirements. Load the new floor plans to your website.

Spa/Valet/Parking

  • Publish your temporary limited menu of spa services.
  • Create spa station distancing floor plan.
  • Determine bag handling procedures. Is the bellman allowed into the rooms when they are exposed to common areas of the hotel?.
  • Do cars need to be sanitized before being parked? Determine process for cleaning and parking.

For sure, there are dozens of additional questions to be asked and problems to be addressed in the Post-Covid hotel. If you have any ideas you can add to this list, please email them to [email protected] or comment. I would love to post a solid checklist to get hoteliers started.

Robert Hernandez | Statistical Analysis and Data Mining for Hotel Revenue Growth | [email protected]

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