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5 steps to get your hotels ready for life after Covid-19

Author: Frederic Garnier / Date: Mon, 05/18/2020 - 02:30
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You will need a strategy for your re-opening. You should prepare an action plan for a variety of situations.

NOVA Asset Management has prepared the outline of the strategies for the hotel owners/ developer and hotel operator to prepare for the re-opening. Our recovery plan focuses on the strategies to get your hotel to be ready for boosting growth, refreshing the operating model, and regenerating your business once the pandemic is defeated and the market turns around. 

The uncertainty of COVID-19 makes it very difficult to plan. However, you will need a strategy for your re-opening. You should prepare an action plan for a variety of situations. This document will offer critical plans during the crisis for the hotel owners/ operators to be prepared and get ready for the immediate and efficient recovery for the life after the Covid-19 crisis.

We have put together 5 main strategies that hotel owners or operators start planning today!

1. Setup your sales strategies for your recovery once the market recovers
 
Charts


While the exact timeline of recovery is unclear (a lot has predicted to be 2 months until 1.5 years from now), the crisis, however, will eventually pass. Once this is all over, our lives will go back to normal again, but in the new normal way. People will be pouring out to the active activities and behavior that they have missed in the social-distancing time. These cramped up activities during the crisis will immediately rebound and grow first. 

Sectors on the Rebound
 

Pinakas1


1.1 Strategies for Market at the rebound (now through 6 months post-crisis). 

Focused on leisure and unmanaged business travelers from the drive-in and short-haul feeder markets in the post-crisis period. Short-haul feeder markets can save the day in the immediate post-crisis period. The main market will be domestic and regional travel. People are better informed about nearby destinations and can better assess the post-coronavirus situation there, and hopefully, resume traveling there if they believe the situation is under control. 

Factor impacting the speed and shape of recovery for hotels
 

Pinakas2

Overhaul your sales strategies upon the re-opening

Upon the re-opening, you can offer your loyal guests with very special incentives such as spa package, complimentary food and beverage, complimentary meeting packages, or tailor-make your offers based on their guests' preferences that you know well. Do not let that relationship drop off—but avoid crisis-related promotions.
Come up with de-stressing spa packages, wellness activities, detox treatments, gym and swimming pool staycation packages, dance and yoga classes, family fun or couple getaways, special occasion packages, etc. Create a lifeful experience for our guests by introducing live music in the hotel lobby, or at the restaurant.

1.2 Planning for the Market in the long-run (now through 12 months post-crisis) 

Once the crisis has passed and hotels begin to reopen, it is essential to be aware of where your market lies in comparison to pre-COVID-19 levels. There is no point to benchmark your current hotel performance with the one last year or the years before. There is no point to benchmark your future performance once the market is back to normal with your current performance during the crisis. Your long term strategy focuses on your core market segments: corporate travel corporate groups, SMERFS, special occasions, weddings, distribution partners in long-haul feeder markets, etc., but we need to understand the nature of each segment in order to plan your long-term strategy. 

To do so, the critical metrics and trends that Revenue and Hotel Managers should pay attention to now, to be prepared for your hotels' reopening and rate recovery strategy. Using available metrics, both in private and public, such as website search, google trends search, virus evolution by target market, airline traffic and traveler’s information, etc. as will outline how you can track your changing guest-mix as well as offer benchmarks for your pricing strategy. 

2. Maintain relationships with your loyal guests & partners throughout the crisis
 
Coffees on the table


In this period, the issue isn't a question of cutting down rates to attract guests. That can only hurt your business long-term. It's about exercising creativity and reinforcing the customer relationship and excellent services you are known for.

Understand that our industry relies on people feeling safe, understood, cared for, and served at the highest levels.

Whether or not reaching out to your customers during a pandemic is appropriate depends entirely on your type of business, your existing relationship with customers, and the purpose of the communication. Your team should continue to communicate with these customers throughout the period, check to ensure that they are faring well and that you are all looking forward to welcoming them back to your property. 

What you can do is get creative and think of how you can offer reassurance, social connection, or tangible assistance during COVID-19. Consider:

  • SEO and online marketing—solid avenues to build connection and trust with people.
  • Hosting an online video space once a week for people to check-in and have a light discussion. 
  • Interview your customers and/or employees about their experiences and knowledge of your products, services, and culture.

Are customers used to hearing from you regularly by email, social media or text messaging? Do not let that relationship drop off—but avoid crisis-related promotions

It is essential to monitor customer satisfaction and retain your valuable customers in the business.
Ensure the reservation department is available to answer any inquiries submitted by customers via e-mails, phone calls, reviews in social media, or letters. Create a report to differentiate between cancellations, modifications, complaints, general questions, new reservations, and so on.

Communication should continue after the situation improves, that the crisis has passed. You provide clarity and information about the property's status of the property and the situation in the destination, the fact that post-crisis the property is fully functional and better than ever, etc.

3. Make a Digital Marketing Action Plan
 
Online Marketing


This downtime of low hotel occupancies or property closures is the perfect time for post-crisis planning, digital marketing action plan development, product, and marketing campaign ideations. Here are the digital marketing action-items that we recommend to include them in your recovery plan that you can start now. 

3.1. Audit Your Marketing and Digital Assets

Review your content assets; photos, videos, blogs, presentations, white papers, e-books, email, infographics, articles you’ve published. Make sure that your latest post status is up-to-date. Let customers know what has changed in the operation of your hotel such as the business hours, business description, etc. Now is the time. Get your hotel ready for the next stage of business.  

During the period, get your photoshoot and video for your marketing use in the future. Your pictures and videos are terrific search-engine-optimization fodder and can form a basis for all types of other content, too.

3.2. Assess Your Online Reviews Strategy 

Online reviews should always be responded to in order to keep up with the guest interaction and responding. During this period, you may need to reconsider your online reviews strategy to improve quick-to-response in efficient and effective ways.

You can also create a reviews policy and, if you have a good candidate, train an employee now to manage your online reviews going forward. Write a few template responses and go over your brand messaging with them. Coach them on how to respond to negative reviews and when to escalate legitimate customer-service issues to the right person. Provide them the tools they need to monitor reviews and get alerts. Show them what you expect as far as measuring the value of reviews and monthly reporting.

3.3. Review your analytics and sales/lead data 

Do a deep dive into your First-Party data. You can ask yourself or your team questions; what do you know about your customers? What do you know about prospects that didn’t pick you? What is in the analytics data that you have missed in the past? Compare offline and online trends and determine what you could fix during this period. Perspective matters. Focusing on the future and what we can do to prepare for recovery matters. 

3.4. Evaluate and Enhance Your Digital Marketing Strategies 

An email or social media campaign can connect a marketing message to a targeted subset of consumers for a fraction of the cost of a TV ad or print campaign, immediately. Become hyper-segmented with your targets. Consider finding mediums that will allow you to capitalize on underpriced attention.

4. Setup a Human Resources Action Plan
 
People


Upon deciding when to reopen your hotel, whether to re-open in a month, in a week, or even in a couple of days, it is critical to have a plan ready to re-engage your staff after a long haul of this crisis situation. Your HR & Training Manager can conduct the necessary training and hype up the employees for the fresh and full energy to return to work. 

Different plans should also be considered based on partial, gradual, or complete re-opening. 

4.1. Communicate with your employees, and prepare for the reopening

Similar to your customers. It is important to be prepared, communicate your positivity, and convey excitement to your employees to ensure a successful re-opening, and overcome the current challenges.

You can use your online platform, Zoom or Skype, or Teamwork or any convenient channels,  for weekly meetings to update your team based on the latest government news and how they affect the business as well as the reopening plan. 

Give your time to your staff for any concerns or issues that might occur during these uncertain times. Make yourself assist and re-assure your team to go through these challenging times. Put yourself in their shoes and be responsive to any questions they might have.

4.2. Start collecting resumes and interviewing candidates 

To resume your hotel quickly once the situation starts to come back to normal, ensure to have your team, either with new or current employees, be ready to go on full speed to row the boat. It is a good time to start collecting resume and candidates as many as possible. Start posting the recruitments, and interviewing candidates. 

You can be creative on your scanning and assessment during the interview session. For example, 5 content ideas for leisure market Facebook post, 5 contents for business market Facebook post, 5 posts to ensure good recovery post-COVID-19, etc. You can try to be creative and create more exercises. This will assess your potential team members how creative and willing to adapt to the post era of COVID-10 crisis. 

4.3. Update your operational procedures

It is time for you to go through your current operation manuals, policies, and procedures. Some new trends or new normal that we need to be applied to our policies and procedures for our valuable guests and our own employees. See if any sections that need to be updated. The old standard will become obsolete for life in the post-COVID-19. SOP for each department will need to be updated. Consider renewing your templates for administrative works. 

Try to find the more effective and efficient ways and put them into your management. The human resources department can work with the management team and head of department on this. Now is the time to get rid of your tedious paper works or inefficient time-consuming ways of work. Like other industries, social distancing challenges from COVID-19 have enforced many employees to be work-from-home situation. So, let’s upgrade your organization to be more digitalized, cloud-base, if it creates more efficiency into your administrative works.

Most importantly, communicate those changes to your team to be aware of the updated procedures and can expect themselves what their works will be like when they come back to work. So they can prepare themselves and be excited to be ready for the upcoming journey.

4.4. Training & Retraining

During the crisis, it is necessary to plan the number of staff needed and what skills are required if the re-opening is in one month or two weeks ahead.

While your employees are having extended breaks or furloughed, organizing online training is the best option. On one hand, it can help to maintain employee motivation when the workload is below-par or non-existence; on the other hand, it can prepare the employees for the sheer competition during the subsequent recovery phase. 

The human resources department can start to work with the content, lecturers, and assessment standards of the online training sessions. You can tailor the topics for training specifically to what your hotel and your team need. Useful topics include:

  • Operational hygiene standards after-COVID19
  • New sanitation procedure
  • Leadership and Management 
  • Revenue Management
  • Online marketing
  • Channel management
  • Social media marketing
  • F&B, Mixology training
  • Any topics, Be creative!

4.5.  Team Building

With the impact of the quarantine, building up your team will be necessary. Keeping your staff motivated will be very important if you want a fast and steady ramp-up. 

With other businesses facing similar challenges, you could, for example, consider generating more meeting rooms revenues by creating packages with external consultants to offer motivation courses for companies.

5. Adapt your hotel operation to the “New Normal” after COVID-19
 
Conference Table


Daily life for people around the world has changed in ways that would have been unthinkable a few weeks ago. But as consumer-facing organizations try to find their way through the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to keep in mind that the global consumer was already evolving at great speed. That process is now playing out faster than anyone imagined.    

Although the curfew or government regulation might already be revoked, but distancing with the crowd might become a new normal for consumer behavior in the post-COVID-19 period. People become more aware of personal hygiene and being distancing. This will need to be taken into consideration for our hotel operation.

By understanding where the most significant changes are and which ones will stick, we can position ourselves to adapt.

During this period, we can prepare so that we are ready. Here are just a few projects that you could be working on right now to get ready for the re-opening of your hotel.

5.1. Health and Safety with particular regards to Food, Room and Personal Hygiene will remain highest on the guest agenda long into the future following this Pandemic

Plan now how you are going to ensure guests Health and Safety to a much higher degree than you were previously. Look into your health and safety procedures, training, and actions. It is also very important to communicate this to your guests and your Social Media. Guests and visitors are going to base their decisions on possible stays and visits based on their feelings of security that your business is as risk-free as possible for them.

Some procedures applied during COVID-19 might need to remain intact to ensure the sanitary standard for guests and visitor’s health and safety, for example;

  • Temperature readings for all guests when they check-in so decides on whether that will happen at the front door or front desk. 
  • A Covid19 affidavit to be signed at the front desk where guests confirm that they have not been close to anyone with virus symptoms. 
  • The Covid19 disclosure for Phone Reservations to read to each guest and to post on the website.
  • If your credit card scanner does not accept contact-less cards, get one that does.

5.2. Room Service is bound to be of higher use. 

Guests behavior in the post-COVID-19 are still minded being socially distancing. They may take some time to adjust to sitting in a restaurant close to other diners and decide to dine in the comfort of their room. Reinvent your In-Room Dining offerings. A good atmosphere for the in-room fine dining can be offered for guests' experience for your hotel. 

5.3. The social-distancing needs to take into consideration for your restaurant and F&B outlets

Re-draw your floor plan so that there is a minimum of 1.5 between tables, as well as your bar chairs. You can recheck with your local regulation or with your government/health organization on the details for compliance. Then, you can communicate this action to your audience.

5.4. Social – distancing should also be applied to other common areas.

Redraw common space floor plans for social distancing requirements. Lobby, Restaurant / Lounge / Bar, Fitness, Swimming Pool, common bathroom, Spa, etc. Simulate common areas distancing scenarios, furniture distribution, common bathroom usage rules. Load the new floor plans to your website.

New beginnings are upon us. Our business has changed. What used to work a few weeks ago no longer cuts it. Whatever plan you had devised for 2020 has to be recreated from scratch with fresh eyes.
What we need to do is think differently and approach things with a fresh mindset. This is a new world order, and we need new creative approaches.

The hotel that prepares for recovery will build strong foundations for future growth. Recover planning takes time, insights, creativity, and business-wide commitment. Start early and include a variety of business functions when brainstorming ideas to revive your business. As the market rejuvenates, remember to celebrate with your teams, your stakeholders, and your customers. We got through this together.


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Frederic Garnier

Executive Vice President

With nearly 20 year’s experience working in the hotel industry, Frederic benefits from expertise in all aspects of hotel operations and development, from the concept and branding stage to the opening and day-to-day operations.