The Cornonavirus threat or opportunity: Impact and solutions for the hotel industry

Bye-bye to the warm welcoming contact when arriving at your hotel. Bye-bye as well to the business talk with the gentleman across your breakfast table and the friendly chat with the barman.

Coronavirus, what have you done to us?

With room nights cancelled, meetings and conferences annulled, and restaurants and lounges ordered to close, hotels were facing a situation never experienced before.

An industry used to yearly increasing occupancies and profits, all of a sudden got a brutal wake up call, finding themselves threatened in their existence.

Adieu to the bottom line.

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To survive, hoteliers will have to do some serious thinking on how to overcome this situation. With nowhere to look for tested answers, they now have to reinvent themselves and look for creative, fresh ideas to give their operation a new sense of hospitality and service.

The coronavirus will be with us for a long time and the faster new concepts can be implemented, the faster success will come back.

It is the speed to implement a decision that will give hotels an edge over their competitors, and what will decide the future of the hotel and the manager at the helm.

Hoteliers have to realize that:

  • Traditional meetings and conferences will be replaced by video conferencing, resulting in reduced occupancy and revenues.
  • Working from a home office will become a valuable alternative to traditional offices, raising the question if sales offices as we know them, are still valid.
  • Learning from cruise ships, hygiene and sanitation will demand much more attention with dispenser units needing to be distinctly positioned throughout the hotel.
  • Breakfast buffet lovers will have to see off the endless trips to the buffet and hotels will have to find a new way to offer their guests a memorable breakfast experience.
  • Bar service the way we loved it, and spending time with the barman having a friendly chat, will be history. The new bar concepts will require more space between tables and a new formula to have a drink at the counter.
  • And last but not least, banqueting needs to reconceive their concepts of operation to compensate for reduced revenues as a result from lower occupancy in their facilities.

Luxury hotels who have been providing white glove service and already practicing a respectful distance to their guests might have an advantage to meet the new service requirements if they can ensure a safe environment with impeccable cleaning and sanitation standards and observe their commitment of attention to the smallest details throughout the hotel.

The Corona-virus pandemic should not only be seen as a problem, but as an opportunity for change to implement fresh ideas to renew the service and guest experience.

To make such change successful requires a vision of how to do new things –  a vision which will build bridges between the present and the future in an environment of altering conditions.

Hoteliers who are committed to make this step will have to realize that it could mean:

  • Traditional sales calls and hotel trade shows will be a thing of the past, requiring the development new ideas of creative online marketing and selling.
  • Trusting your sales and marketing staff to work from home will produce more efficiency, as the time of travelling and entertaining will now become available to secure more business.
  • White gloved employees frequently cleaning door handles, elevator buttons and any other areas suddenly become a visible witness of new hygiene and sanitation service standards.
  • A mobile breakfast buffet table could replace a traditional buffet, now offering a choice of breakfast delicacies directly at the guests’ table, including freshly prepared scrambled eggs.
  • To make up for lost banquet revenues, more creative menus and concepts of service need to be conceived. Rather than offering a buffet at a cocktail reception, individual foods could be presented as finger food, served by white gloved waiters directly to the guest, allowing every single guest, within the required distance,  to spend more time conversing with other guests instead of queuing in line to get some food.

The list of published ideas on how to overcome the crisis gets longer with every day, but it does not always represent valuable information and answers.

From applications for smart phones allowing the guest to select their rooms and do self check in, to having access to guest services via mobile phones without staff involvement, to heat scanners at the hotel entrance, many tech-driven options are available. However, the hidden danger is that personal service will fall victim to technologies designed to save cost and staff in the name of the pandemic.

Therefore, a true hotelier should always be faithful to the core values of hospitality, which are to host and serve our guests with never ending passion. Nothing, not even the Coronavirus, should be able to change this.

A big smile, even behind a mask, and a welcome from the heart will always be more important than the best thought of app.

If you are this type of a hotelier, welcome to the future.

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