If there is one thing that Hoteliers have shown repeatedly, it is their resilient spirit
It is being put to the test once again with the new threat of Coronavirus.
This blog collates some tips on how to strengthen your business, in both the short-term and long-term.
Each country has introduced its own action plan which may include denying passengers entry, applying visa restrictions, doing border health checks such as temperature tests and isolate symptomatic individuals, quarantining for returning travellers, locking down cities, regions and countries and recommending cancelling/suspending large scale events that bring together great agglomerates of people.
In addition, business events and sporting fixtures have been cancelled or suspended (e.g. Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress, ITB in Berlin, Six Nations rugby matches), and companies have restricted employee travel globally (trading face-to-face meetings for webcasts) while others are asking staff to work from home - all of which is impacting hundreds of travellers, companies and local businesses.
This is nothing new to the travel industry, which is always at the frontline of such events, but Coronavirus is different because its impact may be much bigger than any other crisis before. Since 2008, the travel industry has become more and more reliant on Chinese tourists and as the virus spreads across Europe and US, Coronavirus impacts more than Chinese tourists, it impacts all the countries that contribute the most to the travel industry. Additionally, it not only impacts leisure guests but also corporate guests.
The impact can already be felt in the airline industry with some airlines issuing profit warnings, announcing a reduction in capacity, suspension of routes, modifying services or redirecting flights to trouble-free areas.
What can you do?
We compiled some of tips that you can leverage to be sure you don’t lose on the book revenue and still attract enough guests.
- Collect more guest data
In moments like this, guest communication is vital and must be tailored, so make sure that you collect quality reservation and guest profile data which helps you segment your message such as; diseases or special conditions, age, nationality or country of origin. At arrival, make sure you update your Registration Card or collect health declarations for a proper risk assessment.
- Give payment options
As the arrival date approaches, corporates and leisure guests may decide to cancel last minute with, or without cancellation insurance. Guests may rely on the good will of hoteliers to cancel free of charge. However, there are other alternatives such as: postpone the stay, give a credit to reschedule later, or ultimately you may levy cancellation fees to leisure guests. It is important to make it clear on your website what your cancellation policy is.
- Focus on domestic leisure
Some travellers may be in a “wait & see” mode, but you are likely to experience cancellations from international guests. So, your focus should be on 'staycations' of leisure guests. Make sure that you update your website content to highlight the changes you have made in terms of health & safety. You may also want to review your packages and rates, and while continuing to invest in marketing, to do it in a more budget effective manner.
- Optimise resources
Adjust your services based on the occupancy and pick up rate - reallocate staff between sites if you are a group so you can deal with any staff shortages which is easier if you have the same systems across all properties; or implement reduced operating hours for the bar and restaurant.
These are short-term tips to retain profit, but a crisis can be the perfect time to review your strategy too, making sure that your business operations are future proof.
- Review & Refresh
Hotels are constantly renovating and by having lower occupancy, utilise this time to help you finish sooner. Get creative and review your F&B menu, make minimal decoration changes, streamline specific processes such as check-in, billing, housekeeping and payments or integrations between systems.
- Motivate your staff
It doesn’t matter if your team are working from home or, on site, enable them to spare some time to read about a relevant topic to your hotel, to work on a Corporate Social Responsibility activity that doesn’t evolve too much human contact, or train them on specific systems or processes.
Visit the Hub
Check out our Coronavirus Hub for further articles and please do contact us if you have any questions.