While COVID-19 touched all aspects of life and businesses worldwide, its impact on the hospitality industry has been historic. According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, leisure and hospitality saw the largest decline of payrolls among all other industries. As some parts of the world are beginning to recover from the pandemic and outlining new roadmaps, hotel managers might be asking: What should hotels do before they re-open after COVID-19?
There’s no doubt that once hotels re-open after COVID-19, they’ll be operating in a changed world full of customers with new demands and sensitivities. Hence, the following three suggestions might help hoteliers to cater to some of these needs.
Reducing All Points of Contact
COVID-19 is single-handedly changing the global culture on physical contact, as the virus can spread via surfaces. Hence, businesses are in a race to minimize touch in day-to-day life, from entrances to payment methods. Following the pandemic, touch-free entrance solutions such as electronic door closers, revolving doors, and mobile access are expected to be the new norm. While many future-forward hotels have adapted to these technologies, which enhance customer satisfaction, they might go even more mainstream due to COVID-19.
For instance, mobile access, which can provide key-free entrances to rooms, as well as common areas like restaurants or gym, can further minimize the points of contact for both guests and staff. Thanks to online check-ins and check-outs facilitated by mobile access technologies, guests can avoid the queues forming in front of the reception, save time, pay without handling cash, and reduce health risks.
As the innovators are in a race to tap into the demand of contactless technologies, other solutions such as lifts activated by face recognition, or novel ways of mobile payment will also benefit hotels re-opening after COVID-19 to optimize their businesses.
However, even with minimal touch, hoteliers might consider restructuring their services, such as offering in-room dinners instead of a buffet, or restricting the gym access. Likewise, all the entrances such as revolving doors must be sanitized and maintained regularly.
Creating a Safety and Hygiene Protocol
In alignment with their tourism authorities’ laws and regulations, hospitality executives must create a robust safety and hygiene protocol before opening their hotels after COVID-19. For sustaining the health, safety, and security of the guests, team members, and business partners, rigorous training must be in place to keep the staff up to date with the latest hygiene recommendations from authorities such as the World Health Organization or Center for Disease Control.
Further precautions might include hand sanitizing stations throughout the facility, the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and protective screens, enhanced and recorded cleaning and disinfection frequency, as well as appropriate social distancing.
It’s also recommended for hoteliers to keep a rigorous track of anyone who gets in physical contact with the hotel, in order to trace any potential transmission risk.
Optimize Service and Operations
Even though some parts of the world are on the road to minimizing the impacts of the pandemic on life, uncertainty lingers. In many countries, travel remains banned or heavily restricted. As flights have been halted and millions of trips have been canceled, the pie for hoteliers to take an economic bite is smaller. Hence, it’s imperative for hotels re-opening after COVID-19 to optimize their services and operations to boost customer satisfaction and attract new business.
Hospitality experts believe that pandemic will change the expectations, perceptions, and consumption patterns of hotel customers. For instance, customers will pay more attention to the safety of food choices. Likewise, as the social needs shifted online, they’re more likely to interact with the hotel brands via social media.
Thus, the hoteliers that understand their customers’ needs and changing sensitivities about hygiene will be poised to attract them back once they re-open their hotels after COVID-19.