When we began hearing about the emergence of Covid-19 in Wuhan, no one imagined that some hotels would still be closed in July. But, here we are. Many city hotels, in particular, remain shuttered while guests avoid crowded areas and opt for more open spaces. Sadly, a new report from The Wall Street Journal suggests 20 percent of New York’s total hotel supply (about 250,000 rooms) could close permanently.
But there are glimmers of hope across the globe. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 2.1 million jobs last month, accounting for 40 percent of the nation’s total job growth. And, STR notes that occupancy rates are rising. In June, average occupancy for U.S. hotels grew for the 11th consecutive week to 46.2 percent — double that of the mid-April numbers, when we were in the thick of shutdowns.
As hotels adapt to the fact that the recovery phases aren’t as linear or simple as we might have optimistically believed, there is work to be done, especially for hotels that remain closed today. Following are five actions that hoteliers can take while in shut down to set themselves up for reopening success.
1) Devote time to your database
Your first guests will likely be past guests that are within driving distance to your hotel. If you can easily reach these people via email, you have a great shot at capturing the booking. Spend time segmenting your database to understand how many past guests you have from within a six hour drive or so. Can you further segment by families or repeat guests? The more targeted you can get the more you can personalize the message, which we know drives better response.
2) Focus on cleaning protocols
There is going to be heightened attention on your cleaning and sanitizing protocols so use this time to ensure you have the right processes in place to clean, check and recheck to ensure the safety of your staff and customers. Hilton, for example, promises hospital-level sanitization and guarantees your room has been sealed, after being cleaned, for safety. In addition to doing the work, think about visible clues you can leave that show how seriously you are taking the threat. Safety seal stickers on the doors and time-stamped cleaning cards in public spaces can go a long way towards making guests feel safe.
3) Plan for surprise and delight
When you reopen, social distancing and masks are going to make hotels feel far less personal than before. Therefore, it’s important that staff go above and beyond with service to make the stay memorable. Use data from your database to uncover details about your guests and use it for surprise and delight. Did a guest write a past review about their love for your famous dessert? Send one to the room one evening with a note thanking them for staying with you again. These small touches will go a long way during a difficult time.
4) Leverage best practices
While the word ‘unprecedented’ has been overused these past four months, the truth is that there is no playbook for this pandemic and all we can do is watch and see what is working in other markets or among other hotels. Revinate has collected a library of some of our favorite examples of great email campaigns. You can check them out here.
5) Continue to stay in touch with your furloughed workers
Maintaining contact with furloughed workers is critical for re-opening success. When you’re able to staff back up, you will want to rehire the people that know your policies and procedures inside-out. While some might find other jobs in the interim, others are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to come back so be sure you keep them posted on your progress and have a way to reach them when the time is right. For more tips on engaging furloughed workers, check out this blog article from April.