We can all agree COVID-19 has caused severe damage to the hospitality industry, the full extent of which is yet to be determined. Between travel bans limiting tourism flow and properties shutting down for a quarter of the year, hospitality’s losses are determined to be over half a billion in lost revenue, with countless jobs being cut, and even businesses closing down for good. But that was two months ago.
Now governments across the world are slowly lifting restrictions, in an attempt to restart their economies and cut their losses while they can. It has become blatantly clear that the public has reached their breaking point, with even the most cautious citizens needing a break.
This has created a dire need for hospitality providers post-lockdown. So naturally hoteliers are all scrambling to implement cost-effective damage control measures. And some of them have actually proven quite valuable to the industry as a whole.
- While no one would be willing to go on the record admitting it, pre-COVID-19 hospitality’s sanitation practices were not functioning at optimal capacity.
- Typically we would see:
- Vacuuming and dusting before check-in
- Clean sheets and towels
- Travel Size hygiene products
- Clean Bathroom
- Glossing over:
- Carpets and curtains cleaned once a season or if stained
- Bathrooms cleaned weekly/monthly
- Frequently overlooked in the cleaning process: the landline and the light switches
- Travel size toiletries left unused by the previous guest don’t get thrown out
- Obviously this is not the case with everyone, but it is a known open secret that if you can cut time and money on housekeeping, you take the opportunity. And while this arrangement served both guests and providers well in the past , that is no longer the case.
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- Hospitality providers have found innovative ways to raise hygiene standards exponentially over the last few months all the while keeping costs at a minimum.
- Removing excess furniture from common areas and rooms. If a surface cannot be cleaned on the daily, then it probably isn’t worth the risk of having guests come in contact with it. With Guests coming at going all the time, it would be impossible to keep common spaces up to current health regulations, unless of course guests’ time in these areas is limited, and their shared contact with various surfaces is cut down drastically.
- Mandatory gloves and mask use in the kitchen. When handling food hotel staff employ the highest level of sanitation at their disposal. Considering the risk of your hotel becoming a hotspot of contamination and the subsequent damage that would cause to your image, it is simply not worth it to overlook such practices.
- Adding hand-sanitizers in any area of your property that guests have access to. This is done both as a sanitation practice, and as a reminder that we’re not yet in the clear. It acts as a polite encouragement that it is their responsibility to keep themselves safe during their stay.
- Electrostatic sprayers and other tech-savvy cleaning methods have cut down on time and resources cleaning rooms. The magnetic charge issued by the sprayer causes the disinfectant to stick to the surface, cutting down on time needed to reach and scrub down difficult to clean areas.
- Touchless technology - Self Check-in kiosks,apps, POS solutions, have all in some way limited unnecessary interaction between staff and guests. By allowing guests to complete transactions without having to so much as be in the same room with your personel, this is undoubtedly one of the best prevention techniques implemented post COVID-19.
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- While we do expect to see an end to COVID-19, many of the practices that it has led to have actually added value to the industry as a whole.
- One of the main 2019 goals of many hoteliers was to increase sustainability practices as a way to help the environment and save their business from the massive bill that comes with energy waste. Those who’ve gone the extra mile and revamped their establishment are about to be relieved at least partially by the reduced cost that sustainable hospitality brings.
- Sustainable upgrades are an investment in a hotel's future. There are three main points which make sustainable hospitality a desirable choice for hoteliers:
- Cost-efficient energy saving solutions
- You can see immediate results after installing low-flow faucets or showerheads, and upgrade to energy saving light bulbs. These are some of the most basic upgrades, and they can save you up to one fifth the cost of your hotel's utility bills every month.
- Self check-in technology
- The oldest tradition of the hospitality industry is the greeting process upon arrival. But this tradition never truly adapted to the reality of modern travel practices, namely, checking-in guests who arrive at the same time or in large groups. And now, this process is straight up dangerous to the health of your staff and guests.
- Self check-in technology becomes a sustainable practice simply by relieving you of the need to overstaffed or overcrowd your premises. Self check-in kiosks are a great way to minimize employee/guest interaction, and an even better one is having guests use a hotel self-service app to check in and simply pick up their key at the reception when they arrive.
- Self check-in technology also cuts down on how to effectively juggle your establishment’s human resources and follow health guidelines to the best at your abilities at the same time.
- Supporting local businesses
- Community driven thinking can diminish the impact of the COVID-19 recession. By forming bonds with local vendors and agencies you are doubling up the power with which you face the threat of austerity.
- Attracting new partners during this difficult time can aid all sides in coming up with more effective revenue strategies all the while supporting each other’s businesses and redirecting clients each other’s way.
- Choosing to engage with local businesses over outsourcing to a different community effectively cuts down on the overall carbon imprint of your business, simply by choosing to, say, have local farmers deliver produce to your establishment and not ship it from across the country.
- With hospitality being a traditionalist industry, the conversation around its practices has always been “ Why fix it if it isn't broken? ” but COVID-19 has forced a different mindset, one of “It’s not broken, but it is redundant. We need to reinvent it“.
- How do we predict a strong or a low season?
- How do we determine productivity?
- How do we predict ROI?
- Certainly at the end of 2019, you’ve had a working answer for each of these questions and a strategy or two for how to react in a given scenario. The reality of COVID-19 simply does not allow us to work with certains, but it does allow us to build coping mechanisms which aid the business in surviving long enough to become fully profitable again.
- The best example of this practice at work is how hotels are now training their staff in hygiene protocols, even designating special teams in charge of monitoring sanitation practices. It seems as if almost overnight hoteliers have become just as concerned for guests’ health as do medical providers.
- Another sign of hospitality’s increasingly flexible nature is its push for new sources of revenue. Hoteliers have always looked for ways to improve their establishment in ways that please guests and encourage them to return. But this new approach to auxiliary revenue asks the question of how do you reach the customer and not the other way around.
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- With room lending being off limits for a while hoteliers have been forced to reevaluate the sum of the parts of their operation. Yes a hotel is a form of lodging, but it is also a spa, a golf course, and a restaurant. What follows is that the hotel’s bar and restaurant are instantly revamped for take out and listed with food delivery sites to cut down on in-house labour. The next service to go on is the golf course, the moment public gathering becomes acceptable, followed by the spa.
- The current strategy of surviving COVID-19 seems to be this, focus attention on your independent services as if they were your main business, emphasizing one over the others when social distancing measures call for blocking parts of your business. LIttle by little revenue will trickle in, allowing you to offset some of your losses and prepare for the relaunch of your establishment in full capacity.
You may also find interesting:
Hospitality Industry Post-COVID-19: What to Expect and How to Prepare for it
6 Booking Performance Ideas For Hotels in Crisis
How a Crisis Can Create an Opportunity For Improvement in Hospitality
About Clock Software
Clock Software is a global provider of cloud-based property management systems (PMS), integrated online distribution, online & kiosk hotel self check-in solutions and mobile & in-room guest engagement systems with customers in more than 65 countries.