However, one thing is certain: to ensure that hotels can remain open for the rest of the year, changes must be made in order to obtain operating permits as well as attract guests. It is therefore necessary to revise existing approaches, rethink existing processes and develop new strategies for a successful business. All of these points are feasible and can be implemented if they are carefully considered and addressed. Despite everything, a nice hotel stay is still possible for guests.
Travel in the days of Covid-19
Not only will travel behavior change, but also the way we travel. Travel in the days of Covid-19 will be marked by restrictions, rules and new technologies. For example, the future traveler will only be permitted to travel to selected destinations, e.g. neighboring countries and destinations less affected by Covid-19. They will not be allowed to travel with anyone over 60 and will be continuously monitored by thermal imaging cameras and temperature sensors to record body temperature.
Traveling during Corona also means planning several hours before departure at the airport to undergo safety and health checks. In the future, you can possibly expect higher prices for flights and overnight stays in individual destinations, especially in resorts, due to limited capacities. The future traveler will continue to increasingly travel inland with their own car this year. They may decide on staying at a vacation rental apartment to avoid crowds in hotels, thereby reducing the risk of infection. Contactless check-in and check-out as well as a virtual tour of the hotel prior to arrival are now possible. This means the traveler is not dependent on hotel staff on site. When it comes to food, they’ll have to make do without a buffet and instead place orders à la carte.
What does this mean for the hotel industry?
- More hygiene safety
Hygiene in hotels is being redefined. These include distance and space rules, new methods and plans for cleaning, disinfectant dispensers, automatic door openers, new certifications and guidelines. Visible signs (banderoles, stickers, new pillow, …) indicating an meticulous hygiene procedure give the guest a sense of security.
- Increased digitalization
Digitalization has outpaced many hotels, now hotels have to catch up –no excuses can be made. Apps, chatbots, websites, online check-in processes, mobile room service and much more are possible. This is offset by the desire for digital detox while on vacation.
- Enhanced communication
Transparent communication with the guest and personal service on the part of the hotelier are becoming increasingly important. Being open, honest and flexible has gained a new level of importance. Any service limitations must be communicated positively . In this situation, employees and guests must be made aware of their particular responsibility.
- New booking conditions
Concerns about a new lock-down decrease guests’ incentives to book far in advance. The guest’s likelihood to book is increased by providing alternative and more flexible cancellation fees and rebooking options. In addition, modifying travel cancellation insurance policies can provide security.
- New employee concepts
The job market is being reorganized. The requirements for employees are being redefined. Job descriptions and training concepts are undergoing changes. The question also arises whether or not employees should be tested.
- Individual processes
From check-in, to breakfast procedure, room service, all the way to sauna use– any new changes have to be embraced and implemented in a positive way. The opportunity to increase understanding and “recondition” guests to accept cheaper, but by no means inferior, standards (self-service or less food waste, as in the case of buffet alternatives) is key.
- Adapted business plans
Service concepts are being redefined and new requirements and restrictions are leading to higher costs. Conditions are being renegotiated with suppliers. Do guests accept hygiene surcharges or do they want a Corona discount? How much can you reduce fixed costs?
- Modified (F&B) concepts
Requirements in F&B can be communicated to the guest in a fun way. Buffets are now a thing of the past, table service is becoming increasingly important and show cooking is a potential solution. New options such as in-room meals, various to-go options and breakfast times by appointment are being introduced. Hygiene is a key requirement.
Focussing on the guest experience: touchpoint management
To ensure compliance with new hygiene regulations while still focusing on the guest experience, a modern touchpoint management system is essential. For this, all previous hotel procedures are examined to identify any vulnerabilities and new concepts are implemented to reduce the number of direct contact points. For reception and reservations, this can mean personalized service from a distance. Digitization (chat bots, zoom calls, contactless payment) and creative keep your distance markers are helpful in this regard. For housekeeping, new, standardized cleaning methods are required. Stickers or banderoles must make hygiene and cleaning more visible.
You can also start off with your employees, in terms of personal hygiene, communicating standards to guest or addressing how employees should be trained. The guest must be given a sense of trust and safety. In the kitchen and during deliveries, open kitchen concepts provide guests with insight and entertainment at the same time. Hygiene inspections of suppliers and product hygiene must be ensured and conveyed. At the restaurant, alternative but attractive approaches should be introduced. This can mean, for example, digital booking options, extended dining times and individual guest services. An example at the bar could be a moving bar or expanding the minibar, which is included in the service, to give new added value. Last but not least, wellness and fitness needs to be addressed. This could take the form of private saunas with advance reservation, limited use and 24-hour access.