Small independent hotels and large hotel chains are going through a difficult period. Border closures, travel restrictions, and other containment measures have dried up leisure and business customers' flow. The rebound seen last summer was not enough to save 2020, the hospitality industry's worst year ever. The international clientele being almost non-existent, hotels had to reinvent themselves to attract a domestic clientele while offering them a different experience. Let us go through an overview of hotels' adaptations since the COVID crisis has started and how to implement them.
Whether the reasons are practical or psychological, non-cancellable or non-refundable stays will not sell or very little. This is because potential customers will require flexibility. Likewise, a deflated price will not attract a client who is not reassured about his stay conditions.
Any method of value creation is suitable to explore. To get things started, rethink how the distinctive elements of the hotel are highlighted to adapt to the new client’s priorities. Priorities like space, view, exteriors, and room services. Next, diversify the activity beyond accommodation to reach a neighboring clientele. And last, revalue the areas of the hotel establishment by developing activities corresponding to the target customer segment, and thus give a new lease on life to the hotel.
More than at any other time, the company’s priority must be to ensure its employees‘ safety. Beyond the strict legal obligation, the application of hygiene measures and the transparent communication that accompanies them preserve the relationship of trust within the teams. These make it possible to organize the staff better when resuming activity.
Anticipating the required interventions is crucial to ensure the availability of service providers. Whether it is to take advantage of the unexpected shutdown of networks and equipment or simply to put the installations back into operation. To take into account extended supply times and to minimize the risk of an incident following the restart of hotel equipment.
While it is key to organize the resumption of activity, operational management will be even more. So at the moment of business reopening operational decisions and cash flow are secured. This can be done with the help of the flexibility and the real-time updating of the Dashboard indicators.
The shutdown of operations appears to be a boon for carrying out investment work in all areas which will subsequently offer levers for optimizing operating costs. These areas include: upgrading IT tools, starting with the software environment, digital communication tools, analysis of supplier contracts, etcetera. While being desirable, these expenses are conditional on individual resources, both in cash flow and the time to organize them.
After this pandemic, hotels will have to respond to the expectations and, above all, to customers‘ fears regarding health security. Communication focused on cleaning actions and serenity, and well-being will help the client project himself into a plausible future stay.
Until then, the implementation of digital check-in procedures, air treatment systems or high-temperature cleaning procedures will have to do. Even the integration of hydro-alcoholic gel or face-masks as welcome gifts are all actions that can be taken in the short term.
Between making new commitments that have been made evident by the circumstances or rethinking or even refining the existing one, there is a constant: the immediate need to tackle the invisible work that contributes to the proper functioning of the company’s internal mechanics. We must make this crisis a catalyst for changes that will allow us to overcome it.
Auteur: Louis Ghislain