By 20th March 2020, more than 2 lakhs confirmed cases, and reported death of over 10K, the fear of Coronavirus (Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19) had taken over the entire world. (Channel News Asia) And will give a hard time to each and every type of business (especially the hospitality industry).
Hospitality businesses have to pull off all the stops to stand strong and to survive after this catastrophe.
They say, fear spreads faster than infection and so is the reality of things (as they are). We are helpless to change the situation, but at least we can face and fight this. Can’t we? Having said that, in this blog, we are going to talk about how you can keep your hotel business safe from COVID 19.
How to protect your business during COVID-19?
With low occupancy and such a business downtime; you can still focus on other important aspects like your business growth. Here are some ways through which you can protect your business amid this dangerous outbreak:
1. Implement cost control.
When the downturn is already predicted, controlling your expenses is the wisest decision you can make to keep your business safe from this outbreak.
After the lockdown is over, there would be less number of rooms occupied. In this case, you can save your expenses spent after your hotel staff by calling them in shifts, instead of having them work full-time. Besides, you can opt – uber for housekeeping; simply, go through your arrival list and then outsource as much housekeeping staff you require.
To ensure a healthy and consistent cash flow, you have to be mindful. Any sort of cost cutting shouldn’t affect your long term opportunities or even your brand value.
2. Adopt automation.
Whenever there’s a topic of investing in a technology, businesses start worrying about it. Well, technology does not mean an increase in operational costs. Rather, these advancements can help in cost cutting.
In many countries like India, the financial year will end in a few days. With the beginning of the new year, some of you might have started looking out options for your current software. If so, then this is the RIGHT time to adopt a new technology.
You can get your hands on all-in-one (integrated) hotel technology which includes hotel software, booking engine and channel manager automate and streamline a hotel’s all operations.
These systems take care of bookings, inventory distribution, check-in ‘n check-out, billing, online reviews, housekeeping and everything else; which reduces the need of a dedicated resource behind several operations and even saves time.
3. Focus on staff training and improvisation.
Most of the time when you are occupied with your routine hotel operations, you tend to overlook several tasks such as staff training, maintenance of your banquet hall or some rooms, renovation of your reception area or any other tasks.
Well, this is the right time to begin all these tasks or operations. Rather than worrying about the uncontrollable situation of this pandemic, you can utilize this time by strengthening your hotel management.
You can conduct training sessions for different staff levels. In this way, your staff can stay engaged in improving their skills, which will eventually help you deliver the best guest experience.
Along with this, there must be other neglected tasks as well, such as showcasing your customer reviews and testimonials on reception areas, optimizing your social media handles, adding FAQs on your website and the list could be endless. All you need to do is scrutinize precisely, make a list of all these pending and neglected tasks, and start taking up one by one.
This practice will definitely give you amazing results, once the pandemic is all wrapped up.
4. Work on your property’s reputation.
Your hotel’s reputation is the mirror of your services and impacts your business to a great extent.
That’s why you can invest this time to strengthen your hotel’s reputation.
Now you may ask, ‘HOW?‘
Well, most of the time, when you are engulfed into 100s of your hotel’s daily operations, you might have missed responding to your online reviews. In this period, take out some time, and examine your hotel’s profile on every OTA, Google, and basically every platform, where you might gather reviews from. Make sure that you respond to all the reviews and manage them accordingly.
Also, optimize your hotels’ listing on those platforms. Update them with the latest photos, videos of your hotel, update the description content, and other details. Here’s how you can do this.
In this threatening atmosphere, when everybody is under constant fear, you can post some compassionate and awareness content on your social media account. This will ACTUALLY enhance your reputation and it will make your guests feel that you CARE.
5. Work on hygiene – show it to the world.
During this outbreak and even after that, your first and foremost priority should be- A proper hygiene.
Firstly, educate your staff about the preventive measures that they should take on your hotel premises. Also, brief them about the guidelines provided by the local health authorities.
Provide them with surgical masks, alcohol-based hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol) and gloves to wear. Ask them to always wear masks and use sanitizer frequently.
If it is feasible, try to install the alcohol-based disinfectant hand rub dispensers at your front desk, reception area, in-house restaurant, cafe, meeting rooms or hotel lobbies. If you can’t, then at least keep big bottles of sanitizers at all these places.
Keep sanitizers and surgical masks in each hotel room. Encourage your hotel staff as well as your guests to use sanitizers frequently.
Keep helpful signs of washing hands and using sanitizers in common areas of your hotel.
And most importantly, when you are taking all these measures, keep your guests posted about the same. Highlight these measures being taken at your hotel in real-time on your website and social media pages. So, your guests can know that their stay at your hotel is going to be safe and pleasant.
6. Apply low season strategies.
As a hotel, you have already dealt with the low season. Right? Well, consider the present times as one of your weak seasons.
You must have applied some different sort of strategies to acquire bookings in low seasons. Well, THIS is the time to bring back those strategies into action.
Begin with walking an extra mile when it comes to your hotel marketing. Also, you can bring the spark of creativity to increase your hotels’ sales during the low season, creating undeniable packages, discount offers, and so on.
Moreover, reach out to your repeat guests as well, especially those who are business travelers. (Because as soon as the lockdown will be over, gradually different businesses may get on their postponed business tours.)
To help your guests get rid of the ‘Quarantine times’, you can scope out the area for local events and activities like music gigs, concerts, festivals, parties, fairs, comedy events, marathons and more happening in the area. (Only after your regional government allows you to do so.)
You can explore other strategies to increase your hotel sales during the low season from here.
7. Re-evaluate your strategies and plans.
Every hotel will make this mistake of reducing their prices, to get more occupancy. Well, YOU should not do this.
Reason being, when you lower your prices in the face of a market slowdown, there are high chances that you will face significant challenges when demand picks up.
You can focus on bringing back those guests who have canceled their reservations because of this outbreak. (You can also offer a WELCOME PACKAGE to those guests by including some of your hotel’s amenities for free.)