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Re-Opening Hotels: 5 Key Points to Keep in Mind

Updated: May 9, 2020

As each state begins to open their economies, there are five key points that hotel operators need to focus on. Every hotel and resort is different with its own unique set of challenges. We all need to be ready. These five priorities can serve as a guideline to move forward.

1. Follow Local Government Guidelines

Unfortunately, these guidelines are moving targets. Some have set dates for limited services to open and Governors are working together to coordinate regionally. However, be aware of the nuances in your specific state and city. Some Mayors are setting their own guidelines that are tougher than the state.

2. Rev-Up Sales Strategies for the Short and Long-Term

In most cases, business travel and leisure will return first. Group sales will need a longer runway. While paying attention to your competitive set, your pricing needs to be focused on building confidence. Cancellation policies should be clear and customer-centric. Most major brands have already issued these guidelines, however if it has not been done take the time now to put these in place. Group hotels should focus on rebuilding the group pipeline. Call all existing customers (definite, tentative, and prospects). Work with your 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.

3. Clear Communication Between HR and Associates is Critical

Determining who returns to work and when should be based on business needs, seniority, and union agreements (if any). It is important to check on their safety and well-being. Have guidelines in place so associates feel safe and welcome returning to work. Daily stand-up meetings before each shift should include senior leadership. Managers and leaders should deliver a clear and consistent message to their associates. Your employees will be the best ambassadors for communicating to your guests, that your hotel is on top of things.

4. Communicate Financial Forecasting

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 important, is critical now. Leverage your research to determine when to bring operations back to 100%. You need to be completely transparent and in sync with owners and lenders. This is not a time to “surprise” anyone.

5. Work with your PR Team

Now is the time to work with your PR team to put a robust strategy together. Let your current and future customers know that you are open. Inform them about what you are doing to make the environment safe and ready for business. A balanced approach to good solid social media, digital messaging, and online review tactics is 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 and communicate with our customers, associates, and owners.

Together, we can get the industry back on its feet.

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