With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to impact travel globally, it is essential to observe industry trends and devise strategies for a world post-COVID. The hospitality industry should now be ready for a rebound in travel demand, after a few months of virtual standstill. The pandemic has made every person increasingly sensitive towards their health and well-being and has undoubtedly transformed customer service forever.
Hoteliers operating the hotel businesses need to adapt and edit to form a new normal in the long term. In addition to complying with government mandates and industry requirements, hotels should closely understand where the travellers are coming from, what they are looking for, and what services are provided to satisfy their needs.
A few significant considerations are listed below to ensure a smooth passage into a post-pandemic era.
Service, Safety & Cleanliness
Travellers will naturally be health-conscious in the imminent future, and the hotel needs to follow the best methods to ensure abidance to health and safety measures. The application goes beyond the basic norms of cleaning and housekeeping. Hotels should audit their cleanliness policies to align them to international standards.
The enforcement includes regular and deep cleaning of highly sensitive surfaces such as doorknobs, lift buttons, switches, hand-rails in common areas. Disinfect hard surfaces, namely floors, tabletops, furniture, with alcohol or bleach solution. Soft surfaces such as drapes, carpets need to be regularly cleaned with appropriate products. Additionally, menus and hotel information guides should either be protected with effortlessly cleanable plastic cover or, better yet, switch to tablets and other digital tools.
Social distancing is one of the most beneficial practices to prevent the spread of the virus, being advertised by government and health experts alike. Do not be mistaken that once the pandemic is over, people would forget the social distancing norms and policies. Take the initiative to re-design spaces while adhering to social distancing measures. Make social distancing a norm, and not an exception in hotels as well.
It is best to evade overcrowding, particularly in common areas such as lobbies, restaurants, bars, corridors, etc. Generate hotel guidelines and memos to make the guests aware of the social distancing policies. Furthermore, lifts have a closed environment and are a breeding ground for viruses. Regulate the passengers in elevators by distinctly stating the limit on the number of people allowed to board the lift in one trip.
Contactless check-in, room service, room entry, are requests that travellers have leaned towards even prior to the pandemic. It is high time to take action to convert the demands to applications. Contactless services serve the dual purpose of saving guest time and inconvenience while providing a safer environment.
With the availability of a multitude of digital alternatives, switching to contactless media is not a difficult task. Introduce or install apps for the hotel or use industry-specific platforms for check-in/ check-out services, contactless payment, and providing hotel information. Smartphones can be used as room keys as well with the help of some apps. Guests can also utilize the app for in-room ordering and other services, without the need to leave the room at all.
Wellness Services & Amenities
In order to cut down on contact and crowding, public as well as in-room amenities should be re-thought and re-designed. Cleanliness and sanitization protocols should be implemented in public spaces, such as pools, gyms, restaurants, etc. Insides guest rooms, single-use plastic toiletries need to make a comeback, along with one-time use pen, paper, magazines, pillows, and runners.
Hotels should also be prepared to offer in-room dining services and can consider grab-and-go meal options as well to provide a safer experience to the guests. Instead of a pre-stocked mini bar, it is advisable to ask the guests for their minibar requirements before arrival, and stock accordingly, to avoid unnecessary contact by multiple customers.
Local Health Facilities
Even after all the restrictions have dissipated, the fears won't. Guests will be ensuring that reliable health facilities are available locally to assure the safety of their friends, families, and colleagues. Hotels can ease the process by introducing virtual health care facilities while on the property to have a quick discussion with an on-call doctor without leaving the sanctuary of the room.
To further aid the guests, hotels should update information regarding the hotel norms and policies on the website and messaging apps to enable easy and personalized communication.
Show extra care to reduce customer fear!
Times may be changing, but customer engagement and experience should be the priority, no matter the circumstance. To stay ahead of the race, hotels need to be proactive in adopting the changes and adapting to the new normal. Once the dust settles, the businesses that innovate and stand apart will be the ones to succeed.