Industry Update
Opinion Article30 July 2020

4 Alternative Uses for a Hotel During COVID-19

By David Eisen, Director of Hotel Intelligence and Customer Solutions for HotStats

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Every second that hotels sit vacant, money is being burned. It's an unfortunate byproduct of COVID-19.

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However, savvy hoteliers are finding creative ways to repurpose these now underused hotel spaces to generate extra revenue.

Here are five alternative hotel revenue generators and how to put them into action:

1. First Responder Quarters

By providing housing to first responders and essential workers, hotels can supply a much-needed service and bring in extra cash. In some cases, cities have offered to lease hotels for an estimated $1 million per month to house emergency medical staff. In addition to acting as an additional revenue source, providing housing to essential workers opens up opportunities for positive marketing exposure and can give hotels a PR boost.

2. Quarantine Centers

Studies suggest that hotels can reduce the spread of infection by transforming buildings into quarantine centers. Especially in areas where hospitals are overloaded, quarantine centers can give people with COVID-19 symptoms an area to recover in without spreading the virus.

Interested in converting hotel rooms into healthcare-ready spaces? Start by reading about how the U.S. Army suggests hotels set up spaces for medical use.

3. Co-working Spaces

Remote work has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, an estimated 16 million knowledge workers have moved to at-home work stations in the past few months. Hotels can bring in extra revenue by converting unused spaces into sanitary remote work stations for these homebound workers. Because hotels are often already set up with high-speed internet, they make for a fairly easy transition to a co-working space.

4. Business Offices

If a hotel has business centers or conference rooms sitting vacant, it may be worth renting out those areas as office space. Because these areas are already designed to accommodate business professionals, little renovation is needed to transform empty rooms into a more stable revenue source.

How to Revamp Hotels for Alternative Use

Many hoteliers are wading into uncharted waters during COVID-19 uncertainty. That doesn't mean there isn't a clear path to turning hotels into alternative facilities. Here are a few steps to take before repurposing a hotel:

Measure Costs

By digging into costs, hoteliers can see where money is currently flowing. Regardless of what type of alternative revenue source a hotelier chooses to pick up, it should be driven by cost and profit. By keeping a finger on the pulse of expenses, hoteliers can make sure those new moves aren't burning through even more cash. Here are some costs to examine:

Get a Handle on Revenue Streams

If the goal is to use the hotel to open up new revenue streams, it's important to understand the size and scope of revenue streams that are already flowing. More importantly, hoteliers will want to pin down how each revenue source contributes to the hotel's profit.

How?

Pore over revenue data per each department and stack those numbers up against total revenue. From there, hoteliers will see where they can cut back programs and how much a new endeavour will contribute to big-picture profit.

Identify the Hotel's Needs and Capabilities

For some, adding alternative income sources to a hotel's repertoire may be an emergency move to keep the lights on through the current crisis. In other cases, hoteliers may find that alternative uses are so valuable they're worth incorporating long term.

In all instances, it's important to start by diving into hotel metrics, understanding the hotel's spaces and setting up a strategy. That means examining operational figures, determining the hotel's break-even point and homing in on profit-focused metrics, such as gross operating profit per available room (GOPPAR).

Fit Alternative Hotel Uses into a Broader Strategy

Above all else, before picking up any alternative uses for hotel space, hoteliers should pause and make sure moves fit into a broader hotel performance strategy. That requires digging into hotel profit benchmarking and mapping out a plan toward profit. With the right data in the driver's seat, hoteliers can swerve around COVID-19 consequences and race on to a more profitable future.

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