“The report of my death was an exaggeration,” as Mark Twain cleverly retorted to false rumors of his death. While we hoteliers are in the darks depths of this unprecedented calamity, our industry’s bright new dawn is just about to crest over the horizon.
The travel and hospitality business will come back. It might take a year, but we’ve weathered the OTAs and shared economy’s disruptive effects and we will weather this one too. By our training and gumptions, hoteliers are witty, scrappy and resilient. We have the resources, the locations and the staff to make the recovery happen. But it is not going to be easy and will take just about every smart mind we have, coupled with a smidgen of good fortune to right this ship as soon as possible.
If you own a hotel, run a management company or are an operator, rest assured that you are not alone. We all are in the same proverbial sinking ship, so we must rally together.
While everyone is scrambling, so too has my consulting agency been doing just that to provide triaged solutions for hotels that have seen their occupancies suffer an apoplectic drop. I’ve got the basics of a program here and encourage everyone to look at their respective businesses to see which of these elements make the most sense. This is not a one-size-fits-all situation and each property requires discerning minds to determine the best course of action.
1. Small properties need to micro-focus on their past customer base. In moments of indecision or fear, people will naturally revert back to the familiar. “Better the devil you know,” as I often quip. As people emerge from isolation, their first step, after a happy return to their favorite local restaurant, may be to the comfort of your property. It may take some time before people become more adventurous with something new or untested or fall back upon what your CRM can tell you.
2. Those that are members of a loyalty program should target using geographic origin markets that are located within short drive distances. These are the ‘rubber tire’ markets that are less than a day away and without the need for entering an airport. Offer community-focused promotions specifically identifying the recipient as a local.
3. Specialized properties, such as spa resorts, can concentrate on their specialty in their local trading area. Think small, such as a one-day package of two spa treatments and a lunch – a ‘day pass’ if you will – that can also expand out to include multi-day benefits with an overnight stay.
4. All properties can reinforce their commitment to safe hygiene practices. If you think that housekeeping was important before COVID-19, be prepared for a heightened awareness of anything that smacks of even a minor failure by your cleaning staff. Follow any of the in-depth recommendations by industrial cleaning suppliers and then consider some sort of declaration that can be posted in every guestroom and public area.
5. Importantly, all of us must start paying more than lip service to our local, regional and national hotel associations. They are the best-equipped to lobby for governmental support and serve as outstanding spokespersons for our desperate situation. Support them with your fees and your time.
In 1939, the British Government created the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ motivational poster in preparation for the Second World War and the Battle of Britain. The theme of this is definitely appropriate during our current period. So, to everyone in the hotel industry, maintain a level head so you can come back with a solid plan to see you through to better times ahead.