COVID-19 the pandemic has confronted the hospitality industry with an unprecedented challenge. Strategies to flatten the COVID-19 curve such as community lockdowns, social distancing, stay-at-home orders, travel and mobility restrictions have resulted in temporary closure of many hospitality businesses and significantly decreased the demand for businesses that were allowed to continue to operate. Almost all restaurants were asked to limit their operations to only take-outs. Restrictions placed on travel and stay-at-home orders issued by the authorities led to sharp decline in hotel occupancies and revenues. However, the reopening process has slowly begun and authorities have started to ease restrictions, for example, allow dine-in restaurants to reopen at a reduced capacity with strict social distancing guidelines, and gradually reduce restrictions on domestic and international travel.
While the Hospitality & Tourism Industry is slowly recovering, the COVID-19 crisis continues to exert profound impacts on how hospitality businesses operate. Hospitality businesses are expected to make substantial changes to their operations in the COVID-19 business environment in order to ensure employees’ and customers’ health and safety, and enhance customers’ willingness to patronize their business. The following are suggestions that need to be taken to come back to normal.
- The number one consideration post Covid-19 will be on health and safety which translates into hygiene and sanitation issues of the hotel. The key is to provide physical evidence of the hotel’s concern for health and safety. In the aftermath of the terror attack on the Taj Hotel, hotels responded assuredly to security fears by erecting security checks at the gates of the hotel along with self and baggage screening in the portico prior to entering the hotel. This time, the checks and screening will have to be erected for health purposes. The security will check for fever with a remote thermometer, shower a light sanitizer mist, keep hand sanitizers at the reception, elevator lobbies and guest rooms. Ensure the circulation of fresh air in guest rooms and display indoor air quality. The guest room will have a sign mentioning “This room has been sanitized for your health and safety”.
- Hotels must plan now to do a soft-opening with one floor or two with only essential facilities and staff. The essential services will include housekeeping, a section of the kitchen, the coffee shop/dining room, a bar, engineering, front desk and security. This will ensure fewer people about.
- The staff positioned should be experienced, multi-skilled and loyal employees. It will be a while when other regular staff will be required.
- All staff should continue to wear surgical gloves and masks to give confidence to the guests.
- Food menus must be choices of Table d’hote menus each day instead of a full a la carte menu. It will save the cost of having high food inventories. Hotels have to take into account that supply chain vendors will take time to respond to full capacity. Tables in the restaurant should be spaced out.
- Self-service as far as possible should be encouraged to reduce human contact.
- From the marketing standpoint, it is vital to keep communicating with loyal guests, especially the domestic market, through digital marketing and social media during the lockdown and after. The hotels can showcase their contributions to the corona virus cause.
- Hotel Technology Trends: Mobile Check & Benefit
- होटल और टूरिजम इंडस्ट्री पर COVID-19 का प्रभाव के बाद HIHT ने किया ये बदलाव
The Covid-19 has hastened the need to use technology to allow least contact with humans. Here are some suggestions:
- Self-check-in with codes given on the guest’s mobile to open assigned guest rooms.
- Guest mobile apps should be able to connect to all buttons and switches in the room to avoid using fingers for touch. It would include controlling the room temperature, switching on lights, controlling the temperature of the shower, remote for the television etc.
- Virtual views on the TV of restaurants, lobby, and bars to see the atmosphere to avoid crowds
- Have gourmet food dispensers on floor pantries. People are going to use in-room dining more.
- Digital payments of bills and food and beverage at kiosks which will give out receipts much like the ATMs.
- Liquor options in the guest room mini-bar which will automatically bill the guest folio when bottles are withdrawn from the bar.
- Self-service room amenities from dispensers in the floor Housekeeping store.
- Self-monitoring gadgets for fever.
- Revenue Management Software to do the predictions of room occupancy and rates.
- Big Data analytics to constantly determine the behavior and attitude of guests to give them customized services.
- Robots for cleaning carpeted and other surfaces and automated dish washing.
- The writer is very convinced that the hotels will bounce back remarkably as it always has done post such unusual happenings.
About the Author:
Heritage Institute of Hotel & Tourism
Agra & Shimla