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It doesn’t look like a rush of travellers are going to be returning soon. Should you be sitting in the corner waiting for the influx?

No, and I am going to tell you some things you should be doing in the meantime to prepare.

Welcome to another edition of Hospitality Property School.

I am your instructor, Gerry MacPherson.

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There is no denying that the hospitality property industry is taking a major hit.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, properties from all over the world are experiencing low occupancy rates or closing their doors until further notice.

Either way, they are all experiencing a difficult time.

While we are living in uncertain and unprecedented times and the immediate forecast for the hospitality businesses is not looking great, the only thing left to do is to be aware of the current situation and to look ahead.

Not a day goes by that we don’t hear information on coronavirus and its negative impact on travel and hospitality businesses but this is not new to the industry.

The hospitality property industry had to deal with many different crises and viruses in the past.

For example, the SARS virus in 2003. There was a 50% decline in bookings, but the travel industry managed to register immense growth in just a couple of short years.

The truth is the COVID-19 pandemic shall pass. So, instead of curling up in a corner, we should continue to plan for the future, as well as take steps to reduce long-term damage from the virus and drive faster recovery.

Here are 9 tips to help hospitality properties overcome the difficulties that COVID-19 brings.

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Make yourself aware of forms of relief

In most countries of the world, governments are offering assistance and financial support during the pandemic, governments defer payments, cut taxes, launch business support grant funds, make low-interest working capital loans available to businesses, etc. Check to see what is available for you.

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Customer relations

Focus on your customer relations and long-term goodwill. Have a liberal cancellation policy for current bookings and if requested offer the customer a future stay voucher. It this not of interest, I would recommend a full refund with no strings attached.

It would be a good idea to create a relationship with every customer that does cancel a reservation. With every cancellation confirmation include a bounce-back offer for a future stay.

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Make sure you have the accurate information concerning COVID-19

As new information is constantly appearing, on TV, through social media and from some politicians, not all of it is accurate. If your property is open, owners and managers should take special care to share verified information and not contribute to spreading misinformation to customers and employees. You should read, share or post information from trusted sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other trusted health care providers.

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Revisit your current health and safety techniques, policies, and procedures

Given the contagious nature of the virus, it is crucial to have appropriate health and safety policies in place, especially for a hospitality property industry that relies on in-person interactions.

In these contexts, properties should promote proper health and safety measures, which may include the following:

  • Self-service pay systems.

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  • Orders through mobile apps.

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  • Non-contact service and order deliveries.

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  • Complimentary hand-sanitizer stationed at the entrances and exits.

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  • Suspension of unnecessary work-place gatherings.

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  • Readiness to deal with staffing reductions.

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Also, hospitality properties should be ready to closely monitor employees’ health conditions and take reasonable precautions to ensure that the illness does not spread.

You should implement, amend, reconsider, update or adopt set protocols to ensure the staff is not contributing to the spread of infection. The same refers to health policies, routine disinfecting of commonly used surfaces and other areas, specific actions to prevent the spread of the illness. It is good to have a detailed course of action for operating costs, worker’s compensation and business interruption insurance coverage’s. All this should be updated in your properties operation manual.

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Update your website & policies

If you don’t have one right now write a very clear and concise cancellation policy. This may require some tweaks to the non-refundable best available rate for each room category, but it is nevertheless worthwhile to state this clearly on your website and booking engine instead of trying to bury it.

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Start thinking about your recovery plan now

Determine which of your customer segments will return the faster and decide what you could offer them so they will choose to stay with you.

Prepare your promotional messages now and plan to release them as things begin to normalize so you can hit the ground running when the time is right and beat your competitors out of the starting block.

Also, prepare to release updates on operations and protocols to meet new guest expectations.

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Pay attention to your employees

Concentrate on employee relations. Make every effort to keep as many staff employed as possible. Even if it requires make-work projects, but projects that will benefit your property. If you have a salesperson or team, don’t lay them off. It is never a good idea to lay off salespeople to save a few dollars. They are the ones working on your future.

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Train yourself and your employees

Upgrade your skills, learn new tips and techniques to get organized, work with your employees, market your property and to see your property in a new light. Be ready for when you open your doors to the world and not two steps behind your competition.

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Property maintenance and renovation

The COVID-19 outbreak doesn’t mean hoteliers and innkeepers should close their doors and wait for this period to end. It’s a perfect time to catch up and improve.

Make a list of items, and things that need to be repaired, do an inventory of maintenance supplies, laundry room systems check, railings and balcony checks, elevators, life safety checks, pool systems, ensure all lights are off, etc.

It’s time to conduct a deep cleaning: A/C cleaning, carpet shampoo, pull furniture, get under bed frames, clean behind frames/mirrors, vacuums cleaned with fresh belts and filters, and more.

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In conclusion

In the end, there is a variety of ways how to overcome these unexpected and challenging times and recover. Taking these actions is a step in the right direction to help you return to doing business as usual when some form of normalcy is back.

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Do these make sense to you? What are you currently doing to prepare for the return of your guests? Let me know in the comment section.

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If you are a member of the Hospitality Property School Group, I have included in this week’s updated episode, a couple more tips you can do.

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TO READ OR LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE ON KEYSTONE HOSPITALITY PROPERTY CONSULTING:

https://keystonehospitalitydevelopment.com/KHDC190

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Join one of our private groups

https://keystonehospitalitydevelopment.com/private-groups

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Say hi on social:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KeystoneHDC

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/KeystoneHDC

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Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/keystone-hospitality-development

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Listen to The Hospitality Property School PODCAST here:

https://keystonehospitalitydevelopment.com/itunes-podcast

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https://www.spreaker.com/keystonehdc

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YouTube

https://youtu.be/2oBUR8xiEVA

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