Since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, we are all living amidst the inevitable and slowly yet surely trying to regain strength in all quarters of life. The current market scenario demands an approach which will help businesses sustain themselves in the long run. The most important factor in this approach being the will to adapt. Changing things to fit the existing circumstances is what adaptation is about and it is most crucial for survival.
Lockdowns have been lifted in many parts of the world and travelers are waiting with bated breaths to seize the next opportune moment to travel to destinations known and unknown. While revenge travel is on their minds, there are many other things like their health and safety that are now a huge concern. They want to know that the destinations they travel to or the hotels they stay in are all prepared well enough to ensure a favorable experience. Such and other matters would have to be keenly looked into by hotel owners and managers as the time for reopening nears. Once governments and health authorities raise the green flag, it’ll be time to resume business. And while it may not be the same as the previous years, trends suggest that the pace will pick up gradually.
In order to maximize on the upcoming opportunities, hoteliers must pay attention to some key things as a part of their pre-opening action plan. These have been explained below in detail.
Governments world over have laid out directives for businesses to follow. The aim being a universal one – the health and safety of all. Hotels must follow such directives and prepare a ‘Prevention Plan’ for dealing with Covid related dangers.
- Implement Protocol – Protection and Distancing
The pandemic is here to stay for a considerable amount of time, which makes it necessary for hotels to put into effect measures to keep people safe and ensure compliance with Covid appropriate behaviour such as wearing masks at public spaces and maintaining social distancing. For everyone’s knowledge and adherence to these protocols, it is also a good idea to display them at all public spaces and even in rooms.
- Health & Safety – Guest and Staff
Hoteliers need to turn their focus towards the health and safety of guests, as well as the staff members. Every hotel needs to apply safety measures especially because there are regular interactions between the staff and guests. Certain minute things may have to be paid attention to such as maintaining an inventory of safety and cleaning equipments like gloves, masks etc., frequently conducting services and other maintenance tasks to prevent the spread of infections through air.
The wellbeing of all must be paramount, therefore, minimizing the need for contact between people might be necessary, at least for the time being. While this may cause some amount of inconvenience to the people concerned, most would appreciate the proactiveness of the authorities in carrying forward essential protocol.
Even after such efforts, if at all situations arise where people need immediate help, you must be ready to offer any assistance. Setting up an emergency contact number could prove to be beneficial in this regard.
The pandemic has put us through unreliable times and its adverse effects have been felt by businesses worldwide. In such unprecedented times, businesses are expected to consider market scenarios and consumer behavior to develop a strategy to start afresh.
- Impact Assessment:
The road to recovery from the pandemic might be long and tough, where key performance indicators like RevPAR, ADR and hotel demand etc. might take a while to improve. But recovery strategies based on realistic goals and parameters of success could get you through it.
- Prepare A Contingency Plan:
Business has taken a dip for all, irrespective of the industry one belongs to. Hotels have seen low occupancy rates and certain drastic measures may be needed for business continuity. A contingency plan may be important during this recuperation period. An effective plan would be able to provide an accurate revenue forecast and an estimation of the expected downfall. /p>
- Expense Optimization:
With the financial status of most businesses getting affected, it would be helpful if existing plans, contracts, deals etc., are renegotiated with the goal to derive more for less.
- Many software/technology companies are offering discounts. So, it would be a great idea to invest in something that could automate the mundane everyday tasks and increase your business productivity. For example, Hotelogix, the Global Leader in enterprise-grade Property Management Systems is available at an affordable price. It streamlines processes and makes hotel management less tedious. Such software can help hoteliers in surviving resource crunch due to layoffs.
- Marketing efforts can give your business the right push to stay afloat. It is best to utilize the Covid pause to prepare for future campaigns, based on Sales strategies devised to bring in more bookings and therefore more revenue. Let the most talented set of people take over this task and create content that connects with the audience you wish to reach.
- Only when you deduct the superfluous aspects of business would you be able to concentrate your effort and energy on more important ones. Managing operations is one such factor which, though important, takes up a lot of time, leaving you with a narrow bandwidth to concentrate on things like guest satisfaction, personalization etc. Here again, one should consider renegotiating contracts and decreasing the number of staff members to a minimum. Alternatively, employ temporary pay-cuts. Property Managements systems like Hotelogix can lend you the technological help to carry out operations better. So, deliberate seriously over building technological support.
- Revenue Management Tactics:
Carefully thought out, data driven decisions will help your business sail through difficult times by letting you moderate the revenue management activities. A few steps you could take in carrying out revenue management operations are:
- Maintaining a flexibility in rates, while keeping the market scenario and customer demand as the focus of things. Regular review and updation is important to stay relevant and to have an upper hand over your competitors. Everyone has taken a hit financially, which is why discounts would be a welcome offer. Yet, remember to not go too low and hamper your hotel’s brand positioning. PMS software integrated with Revenue Management systems can help you make decisions with a data backing. What price to charge and what kind of offers to put out can all be decided with the help of these software.
- ‘Value-added’ packages help in effectively concealing extra costs. Offering such packages which have ‘add-ons’ and ‘extras’ help hotels earn through mediums other than room stays.
DISTRIBUTION AND CANCELLATION:
In a competitive market, especially one which is stricken with Covid related challenges, it is essential for you to have the right pricing, distribution, and cancellation strategies in place.
- A widespread online distribution network comprising of OTAs, metasearch engines, GDSs as well as a hotel’s own website can help in increasing the number of bookings one receives. If you haven’t already, adopt a Channel Manager software like AxisRooms which can implement your hotel’s distribution strategy by managing your hotel’s inventory, rates and reservations in a hassle-free manner, across multiple channels. However, channels like OTAs may not be very guest friendly in terms of their cancellation policies, which are important to cultivate guest loyalty. Direct bookings through your hotel’s own website may prove to be more beneficial in such cases. Remember to keep a fine balance there.
- Since situations around the world are susceptible to constant changes, to keep the cancellation policies flexible is inevitable. Guests expect to have complete knowledge about cancellations, payment returns/reimbursements/deductions etc, rather than meeting with an unexpected surprise at an unfortunate moment. Hoteliers can plan different types of products in order to maintain a continuous cash flow.
If there is a silver lining in the Covid scenario, then it is this – the world is in this together, suffering and recovering. People understand the misery the pandemic has brought and are willing to help each other out. It is best therefore to treat your audience/guests as your partners in dealing with the after-effects. Keep your communication channels open with them and be consistent. Build brand awareness and invite more leads to your website for direct bookings. However, always be mindful of being truthful, transparent and timely while communicating, in order to earn trust and credibility.
Review your marketing strategy and if necessary, prepare a new plan, with a few key action points focused on recovery, such as:
- Updating the website with precautionary measures your hotel is undertaking to ensure safety and security of all.
- List down any newly established cancellation or booking policies.
- Use newsletters, website pop-ups, emails etc., to inform guests about the newest promotions/discounts your hotel is offering.
- Ensure your web booking engine has the latest set of images/videos/rates etc., for your guests to refer to, while making their bookings.
- Utilize Google Hotel Ads in order to be visible on search results and get more direct bookings through them.
- Subscribe to software solutions which help manage operations, manage inventory/rates and improve your hotel’s revenue. Now is the time to build the solution stack.
The points discussed above would give you a direction in planning for your hotel’s reopening. While you’re at it, remember to be nimble to make the best of the situations at hand. Tie-ups with government agencies could get you opportunities to offer Covid-care services at your hotel. By offering a minor discount, you could also have people in need of isolation to check in for stay. Your hotel’s kitchen could be utilized for supplying food for Covid patients at hospitals. Such and plenty of other ways can help your business not just survive, but succeed even during difficult times.