7 Ways to Help Your Hotel Survive Covid-19
There’s no way to gloss over the impact that the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak is having on the hospitality industry—especially hotels.
The situation is uncertain and scary, with mass cancellations and a sharp decline in travel around the world. However, there are still several smart steps hotel owners can take during this time to reduce the impact on the long-term survival of your business. Now isn’t the time to despair. It’s time to take focused action.
The hotel and travel industries are in upheaval right now. Never before has an event like a global pandemic had such a universal impact on bookings and travel. This is an unprecedented, scary, disheartening situation. That is the bad news.
The better news is that everyone across the industry is experiencing the effects, so no matter the size of your hotel, resort, or bed and breakfast, you aren’t in this alone. Many larger chains are taking specific steps to stave off panic and stay future-focused. Even if you’re an independent or smaller operation, it serves you well to follow their lead.
The other piece of brighter news is that this impact is well known, anticipated, and widespread. Communities are rallying around local businesses. Government agencies are offering relief and targeted legislation is going into effect to assist small business owners impacted by Coronavirus. This assistance includes a focus on the hospitality industry.
So, although you’re likely very concerned about the wellbeing of your hotel, customers, employees, and future business, the best plan is to take action now, wherever possible. Here are 7 ways to help your hotel weather this storm.
1. Review Your Crisis Plans to Help Your Hotel Survive
Most crisis plans are created to address local or regional disasters like earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, and floods. Disaster planning often entails worst-case scenarios that cover the safety and security of your patrons and employees and protect your hotel from liability and risk during a crisis.
Although Covid-19 is a global crisis of a different sort, it can still help to address it as you would a local or regional situation. Many of the crisis management actions are similar: monitor the situation, adjust your messaging to stay on-tone, communicate to employees and customers, and stay as transparent as possible.
Continue to focus your efforts on staying in contact with the surrounding community—the Covid-19 outbreak is a disaster and crisis, and your response should still follow the same best practices.
2. Familiarize Yourself with Covid-19 Resources
Fuel Travel offers a huge master list of crisis management resources for hotels and is recommended by hotelmanagement.net as an ideal database for hotel owners. It’s also important to familiarize yourself with local resources through your liability insurance provider, your local chamber of commerce, city, county, and state governments.
There are resources to help you monitor the market and track the performance of publicly traded hotel groups and chains. Seeing how the “big guys” are responding to the crisis may give smaller and independent hoteliers an idea of how to navigate.
Stay in contact with lenders, your legal team, and other management advisors to help you to figure out your ideal course of action. There will be several stimulus packages, legislation, and hospitality business aid offerings that will be put through by legislators in the next few weeks and months. Continue to monitor resources often (even daily) to ensure you’re at the forefront of the process.
3. Check Out Your Virtual Presence
In any crisis, staying on-tone is very important. You may want to review your digital marketing like social campaigns, ads, and listings to ensure you’re hitting the right note. Stay on brand, and upbeat, but make adjustments to avoid sounding tone-deaf or even offensive.
Engage your audience (and potential customers) with local news, information that’s relevant to your hotel and target market, and future-focused content. While travel may be on pause for the time being, many people at home are still experiencing wanderlust. Offer virtual tours, share local highlights, and tips and tidbits to entice people online to dream and plan future visits.
This is also a good time to check out your presence on various review sites and ensure your website and listings are all up to date. Many technology-based businesses and virtual services are still available, so you may want to consider making those website updates you’ve been putting off.
4. Update Technology for the Future
On a similar note, as we face a brave new world emerging from the Covid-19 outbreak, we will likely start to see an increase in digital services and virtual conferences. While this may present a lot of unknowns, this is an excellent time to look into your technology options.
The footprint of events may become smaller, especially as people adjust to in-person interactions. Live streaming and other digital services will be essential, even if your hotel is hosting regular in-person conferences and events. Expect to see more “hybrid events” as we go forward.
Smart hotel technology will help your establishment bridge the gaps with customers, especially as you scale back up and business starts to increase. Even simple offerings like digital check-in will alleviate the strain on your staff and help keep your operations running smoothly. Now is a great time to look at your hotel’s technology and make the necessary upgrades.
5. Use this Time for Improvements
During this time, you may also want to explore any necessary improvements to your hotel—repairs, updates, and process improvements as well. Take this opportunity to address all the maintenance that is difficult to carry out when vacancies are low.
It may seem counter-intuitive to make updates and improvements right now, but business will spring back if you weather this storm. Consider it a wise investment in the future of your hotel.
To help ease visitors’ minds when they start to travel again, use this time to shore up your processes for services like hotel housekeeping. Preventing illness is always essential, but it is likely to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind in the near future. Review your housekeeping process with staff and ensure they’re using appropriate cleaning products and processes as recommended by the CDC.
When vacations resume, can your hotel handle the hot water needs of your visitors? Between housekeeping and laundry, room service, and many guests running hot water at the same time, you need a reliable water heater system. Renting your water heating equipment is a perfect option for businesses in recovery mode from a travel industry shutdown. Why rent? It eliminates up-front costs of new equipment and is the perfect way to upgrade your water heating system without a major, costly investment. At Reliable Water Services, we want to make sure your guests are always going to have their hot water when they need it.
6. Resist the Instinct to Cut Rates
Many hospitality resources advise against cutting your rates or offering deep discounts to entice customers to return. Most hotel owners realize that the competitive industry requires owners to examine pricing continually. You’re likely already at a price level that’s as low as you’re comfortable going.
As Sheryl Kimes, Professor Services Operations Management at Cornell University suggests in her opinion piece on hospitality.net, “If you must discount, do so in an intelligent way and consider creative packaging.” Kimes also suggests keeping in mind your public rate versus your private rate. “Focus in on how you can develop packages and bundles that add value to the consumer without costing the hotel too much.”
In other words, consider playing up unique aspects of your hotel, packaging your services with other local businesses, or offering block discounts for groups like weddings or conferences. Making sweeping cuts across the board won’t entice wary customers to travel faster and may end up hurting your revenue during the recovery period.
7. Market for a Brighter Tomorrow
How do you think about marketing your hotel going forward? Keep your hotel’s image positive, community-focused, and human. Show how you are caring for your employees. How have you helped your community during this time of crisis? What makes your town or area great?
In the face of this challenge, we’re all dreaming of grand travel plans, vacations, and stress-free getaways. The resounding strength of the travel & hospitality industry has always been providing customers an escape. Hoteliers provide clients with luxury, a home away from home, and a secure base when they travel. Continue to focus on these strengths to hit the right notes with customers.
Looking for ideas on how to market travel when people are focused on staying home right now? Several tourism campaigns are marketing well during this crisis. Look at how companies are offering a sense of togetherness, connection, safety, and security and use that to shape your tone. People are still dreaming of travel, especially after being stuck in their homes for weeks on end. Offer them the adventure and experience they’re longing for.
This is a challenging time for the tourism and hospitality industries in particular, but the world will bounce back. We will come out of this situation stronger and more connected than before. Travelers will have a greater appreciation for the things that make hotels so wonderful. Focus on the experience you have to offer and look to the horizon with the hope of a better tomorrow.
Reliable Water Services is Here for You
Hot water is critical to health, sanitation, and safety in general, but it’s especially vital to the industries we serve—and the majority of those industries are considered essential businesses. As our customers remain operational during these unprecedented times, so does Reliable Water Services.
Making sure our customers have hot water has always been our main priority, and now more than ever, we are here for you. We will continue to provide 24/7 water heater services to our customers, ensuring you have the hot water your business relies on. Our office team is practicing social distancing by working remotely, while our service technicians and installing contractors are following extra safety guidelines to ensure they can service your building safely without putting themselves or your staff members at risk.
Our team at RWS has always viewed the relationship with each of our customers as a partnership. Through this partnership, we will work together and get through these unique and challenging times. As always, should you need service contact us 24/7 at 1-800-356-1444. Stay safe and be well!