Positive signs for hoteliers – getting back to business

We’re noticing a subtle change in the tone of news articles about the coronavirus. Instead of the doom and gloom we have been seeing for the last nine weeks, we’re now starting to see signs of recovery. As an example, the May 8th New York Times article titled, “The First Signs of Travel Return?” looks at 10 top travel destinations and their timing for reopening. Even if it’s click-bait, it got us excited.

While some countries, like Australia, have proactive plans that seem like they will spur travel from nearby countries, other destinations, like Singapore and Hawaii, seem much further behind, taking a more cautious approach to opening up and putting strict measures in place to contain the virus. 

For example, the Singapore Tourism Board “is working with the National Environmental Agency to create an “SG Clean” certification process for hotels, food and beverage establishments, tourist attractions and more. Starting May 12th, the government is also requiring open businesses to participate in the SafeEntry system, which will track all employees and visitors who enter and exit a location, to continue contact tracing efforts.” Even just yesterday here in California, Governor Gavin Newsom announced guidelines for the reopening of restaurants for sit-down dining.

In Hawaii, travel “is strongly discouraged. Visitors and residents who arrive by airplane are required to self-quarantine for 14 days (some of those who haven’t followed the rules have received a free ticket home); the same applies to travel between the Hawaiian islands.” There are no public plans to lift the restrictions. 

With the opening of some non-essential businesses around the world, many hotels are reopening for domestic visitors. If your LinkedIn feed is like mine, you’re likely seeing relieved announcements from hoteliers finally talking about opening dates. It’s a welcome change from layoff announcements! But, to be sure, it’s not business as usual for these hotels.

The AHLA has provided a Hospitality Reopening Checklist that reminds us that we’re operating in very different times. Employee training around health and safety policies, new cleaning and sanitization procedures and guest confidence will be critical as hotels welcome back guests. We expect to see new signage in hotels with warnings and safety reminders, new stations to clean and disinfect hands and new rules around keeping guests and customers safe. It’s not going to be easy but it’s crucial, especially in the early days, for hotels to show the world and their guests that they’re safe.

As we have discussed before, where hotels have an advantage over other businesses is that they are used to creating and executing strict standard operating procedures. For example, housekeeping follows an explicit checklist to ensure that all rooms are cleaned in the same way and certain standards for cleanliness are met. This diligence will serve hotels well as strict adherence to policies and procedures may be the difference between health and sickness, and positive versus negative reviews.

To learn more about what hotels can do today to prepare for recovery, sign up to our microsite to be the first to receive our latest guide, coming next week!

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