Hotel business is hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.This is due to global restrictions on public gatherings and travel.
Hotel operators are however expected to implement action plans to address both current decline and create future rise in demand for their business. In an article published on the “Business Traveller”, Wayne Troughton, the Chief Executive of HTI Consulting, proposed certain survival tips for hotels to weather the storm of Covid-19.
These action plans are the immediate, medium and long term.
“With travel at a virtual standstill due to the global COVID-19 outbreak, it is imperative for hotels to put in place an action plan to address the current state and the future rise in business and leisure travel demand”, he said.
Short term measures
For the short term, Mr Troughton suggests that “while COVID-19 is still impacting travel, and a hotel is either closed or experiencing a significant drop in bookings, the brand should remain connected to past guests. Hence hotels must share valuable content for people to access whilst working from home”.
He said for now, hoteliers ought to intensify their communications on all their social media platforms and website to have a constant interaction with their clients during this period of Covid-19.
“During a crisis, people will remember how your brand made them feel, and providing the right content can strengthen the brand relationship long-term”, he stated
Amongst others, Mr Troughton advised hotel operators to take these immediate actions;
- Build a profit protection plan with your executive team; have a clear revenue management direction to avoid reckless discount actions to reduced demand.
- Consider ways to reposition your business and to prepare for what the market will look like post COVID-19 as it is expected to be vastly different.
- Focus on long-term good that, where possible, should include fair guest cancellation policies that engender feel-good sentiment.
- Focus on employee relations. Help staff and associated employees and partners apply for benefits i.e. debt relief, payment holiday.
- In addition to above, he also cautioned them against focusing unnecessarily on occupancy levels, saying “unfortunately there is likely nothing you can do to influence more guests to stay at this time”.
Medium term measures
With respect to the medium term, he stressed that it is important for hotels to have cancellation policies and any prevention plans in place before re-opening. Additionally, he proposed the following actions for the medium term…
- Website, critical communication channels and collateral, should address Covid-19 prevention plans.
- Cancellation policies, FAQS should carry relevant information about Covid-19 relative to their geographical area.
- Provide communication on how the hotel or brand is assisting the local community, and make contact information available to guests in case of queries or concerns.
- Again, focus medium term marketing plans on those individuals who may need to continue to travel (essential workers, government officials etc) and maintain relationships with service providers to share relevant information on epidemic-related issues.
- Hotels may gradually introduce packages for local travelers and look out for opportunities to introduce special post Covid-19 times, enticing people and businesses currently in isolation.
- Do not go overboard with price discounting and employee layoffs.
Long term measures
The measures, he proposed here bothers on recovery, advising hotels to use the restriction period to build operational capacities for the next possible downturn. They include the following…
- Find out which of their customers are likely to return soonest. And also maintain a relationship with the individual or company behind every cancelled reservation.
- Look to future group/conference bookings, prepare future marketing and promotional collateral, and to “Future focus’ their sales and marketing teams, with brainstormed ideas, innovative solutions and special approaches.
- Stagger the opening of rooms and facilities, re-organise department structures and workflow systems where necessary.
- Continue to emphasise measures you are taking to ensure the safety of guests from COVID-19 as it will take time for panic to die down.
By Salifu B.B. Moro