The year 2020 was marred by the COVID-19 global pandemic. It impacted almost every industry in existence in some way. The hospitality industry in particular suffered greatly. No one could travel safely and the pandemic itself posed a threat to guests and staff alike. It was undoubtedly a trying time.
It is now 2021 and the story around the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be shifting. There seem to be not one but several vaccines being developed. Additionally, the world seems to have settled into a “new normal” of social distancing, wearing masks for protection, and keeping physical interaction limited. We are also starting to see some amount of traveling and holidaymaking resume again.
So, let’s take some time to talk about things you can do to operate at this time. We will look at safe and smart ways to protect your guests and your staff.
Review Your Booking Policies
The global pandemic hit us unexpectedly and completely upended all of our carefully laid out plans. These also include travel plans, sadly. There have been thousands of cancellations to bookings around the world this year, and for good reason.
However, we are now starting to see people slowly venture forth from their homes to reclaim a sense of normalcy in the world. We’re seeing a slow resurgence of the hospitality industry. But the scars left by COVID-19 still remain.
Guest are now more hesitant to book far in advance. They also want flexibility in dealing with unforeseen circumstances. Therefore, hoteliers must adapt to this shaky level of confidence.
Offering them flexibility in making bookings, changing dates, and cancelling bookings might affect you negatively in the short run, but it can have massive benefits down the line. The flexibility and the sensitivity with which you and your staff deal with your guests in these kinds of trying times will go a long way towards creating brand loyalty and return guests.
So maybe it’s time to loosen those stringent booking regulations on a case-by-case basis.
Limit Contact with Guests
At first glance, this piece of advice might seem at odds with hospitality as an industry. How can one avoid guests while being in an entire industry dedicated to customer service and satisfaction? How do you be hospitable without contacting the person you are being hospitable to?
If only there was some way to engage with customers without getting near them. There is, but we’ll talk about that later. For now, let’s go over why limiting contact is important.
First and foremost, it is a measure taken for public health. It can keep both your staff and guests safe, which is extremely important.
Secondly, giving guests that space to make contactless check ins, room entry, etc, can make them feel safe and trust you and your hotel more. It creates the impression that you are willing to do your best to serve, despite any and all barriers.
Lastly, many modern guests prefer tech solutions to existing problems. Or a tech upgrade to existing systems. As such, integrating social media or digital booking or some sort of all-purpose concierge app customized to your specific needs can be a huge crowd pleaser.
Incorporating tech gives the impression that not only are you health and safety conscious, but that you have a strong technical infrastructure that can keep up with the modern guest.
There are many spaces at your hotel that can count towards what is being called a ‘shared space’. Bars, pools, spas, and the lobby are all examples of these shared spaces. These are places where the chance of coming into contact with other people is very high. As such, the risk of viral transmission is also higher there than other, more isolated spaces.
It may be an obvious piece of advice but these places must under no circumstances become overcrowded. It is a huge health hazard and it is also probably illegal (check with your local law enforcement to be sure). As hoteliers, you and your staff need some clever tactics to mitigate this overcrowding and keep everyone safe.
One tactic you could try is enacting policies for a personnel limit for each shared space at any given time. For instance, if the bar can only serve 5 customers at a time, it ensures that all of them are within safe social distancing guidelines. This limits the risk of exposure.
Another might be to deliver food to rooms for a small price, or even free of charge. This can limit contact, but also goes a long way towards endearing your hotel to your guests. A way to order meals from the comfort of their rooms also helps. While a regular old telephone will suffice, this is an opportunity to digitize this process.
By ensuring that it is digital, you make sure every request is recorded and attended to in a timely fashion, whether your staff is available to pick up the call or not.
Create a Clean Environment
Cleanliness and hospitality go hand in hand. It has always done so. However, with the advent of COVID-19, cleanliness has taken centerstage in a way that is frankly unprecedented.
Washing hands and sanitizing them has become a new social norm. Doing the laundry more often has also become normalize. These are good habits that you and your staff can encourage while serving guests.
Offering temperature checks at restaurants, sanitizers in ever room, every shared space, and in carefully chosen spots on your premises is good for public health. It also creates the impression that your hotel is health conscious and safety-minded.
Another thing you can do is look at the entirety of your premises. See if there are certain areas that could use renovation, repair, or a deep clean to bring it back up to the standards of health and cleanliness we’ve collectively adopted post-COVID-19. The time and resources spent fixing up these areas or aspects are an investment into happy customers and future profit.
Those are some of the most important points you need to keep in mind when running a hotel in the time of COVID-19. We are now living in a “new normal” and must make some adjustments to cope with it. This is true for businesses as well as individuals. The effort you put in to adapt to this change in status quo will be rewarded with customer satisfaction and trust.
One good way to deal with this new normal is to become tech savvy and take your hotel into the digital world. Whether it is contactless check-ins, flexible bookings, avoiding overcrowding, or ensuring excellent customer service, there is an app that can help you handle it all. That app is called TripKit.
TripKit is our highly customizable concierge app. It lets you or your staff carry out a large swathe of your hotel’s duties and functions from the convenience of a smartphone. It comes with a Guest App and a Concierge App, both of which can be customized to your exact specifications.
If you want to learn more about TripKit, you can find out website right here.