Top 5 Recommended COVID-19 Response Priorities
Hospitality needs to be ready to respond
As the various states begin to find ways to “open” their economies there are many specific things that hotel operators need to be focused on. Every hotel/resort is different with its own unique set of challenges. We all need to be ready. These 5 priorities are basics and meant to be a good guideline to move forward. Our top 5 recommended priorities are as follows:
Determine and follow local authorities guidelines. Unfortunately, these guidelines are moving targets. Some have set dates for limited services to open (EG restaurants, barbers and bowling allies) Governors are working together to coordinate regionally but be aware of the nuances in your specific state and city. Some Mayor’s are setting their own guidelines that are tougher than the state.
Sales and revenue strategy for short- and long-term revenue is critical. In most cases, business travel and leisure will return first followed by group needing a longer runway. Paying attention to your competitive set, your pricing needs to be focused on building base and confidence. Cancellation policies should be clear and customer centric. Most major brands have already issued these guidelines, however if not take the time now to put these in place. Group hotels should focus on rebuilding the group pipeline and include calling all existing customers (definite, tentative and prospects) work with rep firms and global sales offices. Your customers need to be assured that your hotel is focused on safety and how you will be ready for their next meeting. Keep in mind that your customers will have many concerns, as they will be emerging from shelter in place guidelines in their hometowns.
Human resources need a plan for communication to associates. Determine who and when they return based on business needs, seniority and union agreements (if any.) It is important to check on their safety and well being. Have actions in placed to be sure that they feel “safe” and welcome returning to work. Daily stand up meetings with each shift should include senior leadership if available to give a clear and consistent message to the associates. They will be the best ambassadors for communicating to your guests that your hotel is on top of things.
CBRE research is forecasting the US occupancy and profit to be the worst Q2 on record. On April 17th, industry analyst Robert Mandelbaum wrote: “Based on CBRE’s April 12, 2020 forecast, the U.S. lodging industry is projected to achieve an annual occupancy level of 42.6 percent in 2020. To put this in perspective, the lowest annual occupancy level ever achieved by the CBRE Trends® sample was 44.5 percent in 1933.” “Q2 2020 is forecasted to finish at 23.3.” Financial forecasting while always is important will be critical and needs to be frequent to determine when profitability will be acceptable to return to work and to be able to pivot if needed. You need to be 100% transparent and in sync with owners, lenders, and brand. This is not a time to “surprise” anyone.
Now is the time to work with your PR team to put a robust strategy together to let your current and future customers know that you are open and what you are doing to make the environment safe and ready for business. A balanced approach to good solid social media, digital messaging, and on line review tactics are critical.
Finally there is no magic bullet nor one set of tactics that will get your hotel back to last year’s great numbers. We all need to roll up our sleeves, communicate with our customers, associates, and owners and work together to get the industry back on its feet.