We know that as a business in hospitality, you’ve taken the brunt of the economic hit from COVID-19. With bookings slowing to a trickle, or even halting, and many hotels accustomed to 95% occupancy at this time of the season struggling with 45%, or much less, it’s understandable to think prospects look bleak.
While the climb back to normalcy will not be easy, there are some real, actionable steps you can take now that will help you to not only protect your business in the short term, but set yourself up for success when the rebound comes.
1. Assure customers of a sanitary, safe environment.
Use text to let your guests know not only that their booking is ready, but also that you’re taking safety measures to protect them during their experience. This will reassure them and let them know their safety is your top priority.
“Your room is ready. We have […] for your safety.”
2. Make your rooms COVID-Clean.
Yes, there’s an app for this. After you perform the tasks on the list to meet standards, consider displaying the “COVID clean” badge throughout your facility, including your website and social media profiles. This will help customers to feel at ease during their stay with you.
3. Temporarily close unused parts of your property.
There are probably parts of your facility that you are not using right now due to current circumstances. Temporarily closing these areas is a great way to cut costs and to simplify the operations of your business during this time. Carefully select and block off these sections to promote safety and to minimize.
4. Or, consider housing the homeless and vulnerable.
A community-oriented option to closing down parts of your building might be to provide safe, free accommodations for the homeless and medically vulnerable, like this hotel in Boise, Idaho. If you can’t provide free accommodations, follow the example of many hotels who are partnering with their local governments to provide housing for those who are in need.
5. Shift your market.
Now is not the time to focus on reaching out to corporate or leisure clients. Consider marketing to those who need your accommodations most right now: stranded travelers, university students who can’t return home, government workers who have been mobilized for the emergency, individuals who wish to shelter in place, and doctors/nurses who are traveling long distances or quarantining. Some hotels are even offering quarantine packages and discounts to workers and travelers wanting to self-isolate. Not only does this provide real business, it also supports your community and your public image.
6. Offer a digital F&B service and concierge.
With recent measures such as social distancing, digital channels are the key to maintaining safe connection and convenience. Use messaging to upgrade your dine-in and F&B services to offer takeout and delivery options in order to accommodate your guests. Also, convert your front desk to a digital front desk by encouraging customers to text their questions, concerns, and requests to your employees. With the right tools, such as messaging and payments, you can also provide hands-free check-in and payment options. While these are top safety measures, they are also excellent features you might consider keeping in some form in future to increase convenience for you and your customers.
7. Be a good corporate citizen.
Right now is the time to build and uphold your public image and reputation. Implement best practices by immediately responding to any calls from the government, your community, or industry. This will go a long way after the crisis is over in distinguishing you as an exemplary business and team player, and will help to keep your community members and guests safe.
8. Waive cancellation fees.
While revenue is in short supply and many businesses are hurting, this is a move that will build customer loyalty and set you apart as a business that cares deeply about its customers. In lieu of waving regular cancellation fees and “punishments,” consider giving your scheduled guests the option to postpone their stay, rebook their room or experience, or apply credit in the future instead of receiving a cash refund.
9. Re-evaluate your energy-efficiency.
Use this time to take stock of your energy-efficiency, evaluating things like on-property lighting and HVAC. Identifying ways to improve your efficiency, such as implementing lighting timers and smart light bulbs, can help you reduce unnecessary costs in significant ways.
10. Strategize for the rebound.
The good news? According to a recent poll, 40% of companies expect business travel to resume in the next three months. And vacationing is likely to follow. After travels bans are lifted, there will be a new market for your business with many opportunities to win over new customers. Take this time to really dig into how you want to tap into this future market, and work to find ways to improve your operations and brand so that you can come back stronger than ever.
And most of all, stay calm. You can do this, and we’re in it together. Remember that your industry has an amazing survival record. By taking quick action and staying positive, you’ll not only pull through, but come back even stronger than before. Because after being cooped up in their house for who knows how long, the first thing people are going to want is a vacation.
Podium is giving small businesses across the country the tools they need to adapt in wake of COVID 19.
“In the beginning, I was skeptical about texting because it was so different than what we were doing, but I’ve been very impressed with how it’s helped us keep leads and deliver excellent customer service. I would definitely recommend it to other hoteliers.” —Suzanne Bentley, Mount Shasta Resort