It’s hard to consider what hospitality will look like post-COVID-19. There are many speculations that suggest a wave of guest travel demand being unleashed upon the industry as guests spring at the opportunity to move about and live their lives without social distancing restrictions.
The opposite speculation can also be made, that the virus will not go away in a season and that hoteliers will just have to find a way to keep hospitality going at this thinned out guest rate for an as of yet undetermined period of time. Sure there will undoubtedly be upticks, but for the most part, the hospitality industry will need to make peace with some of the changes that have been enforced on it.
Hospitality’s New Safety Practices are Here to Stay
Social distancing is likely the least intrusive of the changes implemented to public life, as the only request is to put a few feet of distance between yourself and strangers. But hygiene is another issue.
Having to remind adult guests to wash their hands or to wear a mask puts one of the most fundamental aspects of hospitality at risk: its anonymity. Guests are the stars of their hotel stay, and having staff keep track of their actions in public areas, can make the guests feel criticized and in a way infantilized.
Naturally, many might be slighted by such an attitude and put the hotel’s integrity into question. So instead of having to constantly monitor guests in public areas (something which is likely going to take up too much of your already strained resources), you can try to implement the sort of practices that make hospitality earn its name.
The new and increased safety procedures are here to stay so you might as well make them blend in as naturally as if they have always been there.
Masks are a controversial topic in social and political circles but wearing them is top of the World Health Organization’s recommendations when it comes to gathering in public places. So how do you request that guests wear masks without seeming intrusive or restrictive? Easy, don’t.
You can do two things to encourage the wearing of masks in your hotels’ public areas:
- First, make sure that disposable masks are readily available at some key locations such as next to the elevator doors on every floor and at the reception, in front of the protective screen separating your staff from guests;
- Next, see to it that there are instructive print-outs of the effects of coughing in a confined space printed out and strategically placed in public areas;
- And finally, leave an uplifting thank you note next to the mask dispensaries on behalf of your staff;
You are not telling guests to wear masks, you are thanking them for it. By assuming the action will be taken many guests feel obligated to do it, and while they might not follow through a hundred per cent of the time, you will see an uptick of guests wearing masks in your hotel’s public areas.
Hand sanitizer diffusers present another issue as they require guests to come in contact with the device and some might feel it counterproductive to touch a device that has been touched by every other guest in the establishment.
To encourage using the sanitizers you can invest in touchless dispensers who trigger once a guest wave their hand in front of the device. They also dispense just the right amount of sanitizer, making the process far less wasteful.
In order for hospitality to successfully come out of this health crisis without incurring even deeper losses, these safety measures need to be treated as an investment. You would not leave your guests to wander unsanitized areas for the same reason you wouldn’t leave them without hot water or electricity. Sanitation is just another box to check in the list of amenities for the foreseeable future.
How Has Consumer Attitude to Travel Changed?
Guests are weary of the idea of travel. It is one of the major risks that they have been warned against and going on a trip now seems almost like an extreme sport. So in many ways travel has had to adjust to this newfound traveller anxiety.
Hoteliers are opening their doors to local guests in an attempt to drive up their occupancy but the issue remains that the industry in its current format cannot survive unless it adjusts to fit this emergency state of hospitality.
What’s Next for Traditional Hospitality Practices?
Changes need to be made in order for hotels to thrive during this crisis, this much is clear. The uncertainty posed by a potential second or third (depending on where you are situated) lockdown puts off potential guest prospects from the idea of booking a trip. So in order to adapt to this uncertainty hotel cancellation policies need to be revamped.
Naturally, there will be some restrictions as to which bookings can be cancelled with refunds and which could be too costly to refund. Event planning takes up the hotel’s resources for which the hotel needs to be compensated, even if the event is cancelled at the last minute.
Standard bookings, however, pose no such threat. Yes, last-minute cancellations are unfortunate, but with the help of tools such as an integrated channel manager , any late cancellation can be instantly updated across all of your distribution channels where the room can be booked again, possibly at a better rate.
Discounts are the obvious choice to drive up guest interest, but you need to assure yourself that you are not underselling your services. Your property management system probably already offers you automated revenue management which will help you keep track of how thin you might be stretching your resources and whether there is any ROI from selling rooms at discount rates.
Advertising might be your secret weapon during this period. While most establishments might be slashing their budgets in order to make up for lost revenue, you should consider retargeting your advertisement to a centre run local and drive up occupancy and revenue from the guests who are willing to travel but not internationally.
Hospitality is an industry which must frequently face crises and has yet managed to remain one of the strongest pillars of the economy. The simple truth is that hospitality is not a necessity to out globalized modernity, it cannot be delayed, but never stopped.
You may also find interesting:
How Technology is Changing Hospitality for the Better
The Future of Hospitality: Generation Z as Both Employees and Guests
How Technologies are Helping Hoteliers Reduce Costs
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.