Hotelogix recently conducted a webinar on this topic that had a panel comprising hoteliers from India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Philippines. Below is the summary of the discussion that came from the on-the-ground experience of hands-on hoteliers and gave some interesting/actionable insights. We at Hotelogix feel there is a silver lining to every tough situation.
If thought thoroughly, all hoteliers can use this time to be better prepared to bounce back once the market is open and travel begins. Spend time in bringing the house in order, re-think your business strategy, train your staff, and similar stuff. You can watch this insightful webinar session here
Aditya Sanghi, CEO and Co-Founder Hotelogix played the host to this esteemed panelists that include Mr. Hanky Lee, owner of Henry Hotel, Philippines, Mr. Rei Matsuda, CEO- Kokotel Hotels, Thailand, Mr. Carlos Suarez, GM of Grand hotel, and President of Hotel Resort Restaurant Association of Cebu Inc. Philippines, Mr. Ravish Swarup CEO – Onefinerate.com, India, Mr. Vibhas Prasad, Director- Leisure Hotels Group, India, Mr. Gavin Gunawan, Director, Verse Hotels, Indonesia. The webinar was moderated by Ms. Akanksha Garg, Owner Waxpol Hotels, India.
All the guest panelists shared interesting and useful insights on how hoteliers need to cope with the current situation. The panelist also talked about what new things they are implementing in their hotels to get business and make guests comfortable with the idea of staying in a hotel amid COVID-19 danger.
Change in Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for meeting COVID compliance
Given the current situation, many hotels have started special packages for COVID-19 warriors, basically for healthcare workers and security personnel. In fact, a hotel owner shared that they have also been targeting guests who are using hotels as isolation centers. Further, they also collaborated with certified pathology labs to help them with swab testing/PCR testing.
Hotels have also started adding sanitizers as part of the in-room goody bag or the toilet kit.
Another change that most hoteliers have brought in is no more dining in restaurants, only in room dining will be entertained. This also means no large and elaborate buffets. Some hotels are using Plexi glasses in the buffet area to ensure safety for all.
Another major decision is to suspend services like Spa, Gym, Bars & Swimming pool till the situation is under control and we have a vaccine is available
One of the panelists shared how they introduced a concept of hospitality TV where guests can place an in room dining order from the hospitality TV. Enabling them to avoid visiting a restaurant for any dining needs.
To accommodate unique guests’ requirements in the current situation many hotels are also accommodating requests like allowing guests to stay with their own personal butlers.
Market Revival and Managing Guest Expectations
According to a survey conducted by Fuel Travel recently on traveler’s take on travel during the COVID-19 crisis. They received more than 10,000 responses. The main highlights from the survey are:
- Approx. 75% of travelers would plan to travel in the next 18 months. However, they would prefer to have the flexibility to make a decision about their plans without consequence.
- A large number of hotels are offering to reschedule and cancellation without free to avoid losing a large number of guests
- 60% of the travelers have an unchanged budget for travel
- Whereas 38% have reduced budget and 2% claimed that they have more budget for travel
The above figures pose a great opportunity for hotels to plan accordingly for the rebound. Similar to the above survey, all the panelists also shared that, given the uncertainty in the current times, travelers are looking for more flexible cancellation policies and the option of buying future credits that can be redeemed at any future date against room booking.
Hotels have prepared their staff to serve guests with the proper gear, masks, and gloves, etc. Temperature monitoring of all staff members and guests is mandatory. Extensive and deep room cleaning after guest check-out is also a mandatory process since the outspread of COVID-19. However, many hotels have adopted and others are in the process of adopting contact light or contactless hotel check-in and check-out systems. Hotels are encouraging the concept of BYOD (Bring your own device) for check-in and check-out to avoid using hotel’s devices
As the hotels gear up to open in the current situation of COVID-19, hotels are preparing to make arrangements to make it a safe and comfortable experience for their guests. In the current times of the spread of infection and uncertainty, guests are also apprehensive about their safety and level of exposure during their stay in the hotel.
You can watch the whole webinar session here
The Role of Technology in the Current Situation
In the period when business is not as usual and bookings are very low, it is the right time to bring the house into order. Assess your processes and evaluate whether you have the right technology in place. Evaluate whether your decision-making factors for business growth are effective and much more.
One such technology that is a boon and a must-have in the current situation is contactless check-in and check-out This technology enables a low/zero contact check-in and check-out. Guests can share their Health Declaration, Identification Documents, E-Signatures, Pay Booking Amount, & even Select Preferred Room even before they set foot on your property. For a smooth check-in hotel will ready (sanitize) the rooms beforehand, hand over the sanitized room keys on guests’ arrival or enable room access with QR code, enabling guests to move to their room without any hassle.
This ensures no crowding and human contact at the front desk. Improved guest safety and hassle-free and fast check-in experience. Further, the billing process and check-out are also contactless. Guests can access their bills throughout their stay, and pay via CC on file or a payment gateway. At the time of checkout, they just have to drop the room keys into the dropbox, and check-out, while the final invoices are emailed to them.
Our Panellist also talked about re-assessing your existing technology infrastructure. Cloud is a game-changer and today, cloud solutions are becoming more and more popular across the hospitality sector as these are accessible anytime and anywhere, making hotel operations very efficient as they are designed to keep you always updated. Consider shifting to Cloud-based solutions because it offers
- Real-time connectivity and anytime accessibility
- Mobile PMS available
- Reduced IT complexity and costs
With Cloud PMS you will be able to take major steps around
- Centralized Control and Reports – consider having a system that lets you access hotel-wide/across chains hotel reports so that you can make better decisions for your business.
- Streamlined Operation with Automation – your hotel will need to have an infrastructure where the guest is getting much more importance and attention.
Drive demand in the current scenario
Re-define your business growth strategy. Follow the below-shared tips for the same.
Adopting dynamic pricing:
Demand will now fluctuate rapidly towards a V shape recovery in the near future and thus, you need to be able to respond to pricing in real-time to drive incremental revenue.
Encouraging direct bookings:
Target millennial and staycation enthusiasts who will travel soon after the end of lockdown. And according to a recent study, a significant percentage of millennials and local travelers prefer to book directly from the hotel website. So, you must ensure you have a booking engine in place to turn website visitors into guests.
A part of your hotel’s marketing strategy, metasearch can be a good deal in driving commission-free bookings to improve your revenue. As a hotelier looking to slash out on capital and drive more revenue, you must consider exploring metasearch.
Creating Travel Packages:
Curate different packages to attract more guests. Be creative, promote early-bird discounts, long stay to extended-stay discounts. Adopt a comprehensive hotel PMS that can define packages up ahead as the demand surges or dips.
History has witnessed that the hospitality industry has overcome epidemics in the past and has bounced back much stronger after that. With some changes in how we operate and with some extra precaution, the industry can overcome this epidemic as well.