Weathering the CODID-19 storm.
10 recommendations for small hotels
While many countries are still under strict restrictions, others are progressively easing the lock-down. When the time comes for hotels to reopen, they will face a new reality in order to preserve the well-being and safety of their employees and guests, but also address the so-called “COVID19- panaroia” that we all are unfortunately experiencing. We should never forget that “perception is reality”, and if the travellers are perceiving something as risky, hoteliers will have to address it, oftentimes disregarding “reality”.
Today, there are still no well-established, global industry norms & regulations that the hotels should adhere to. Big brands are defining their own rules, while local authorities will most probably impose specific measures for the hotels under their legislation. Meanwhile, here is a tour of the best recommendations to small hotels, on what to implement to go through the this season.
The main recommendations for small hotels start with the employees. Ensure all your team are properly trained with regard to best practices, social distancing and hygiene protocols in addition to using the personal protective equipment (PPE).
Check-in / Check-out
Now is not the time to have guest waiting for their rooms and queuing up for check-in and check-out. Here are some practical advice: try to perform virtual check-in/out, even if your IT infrastructure will not allow for it, try to engage with guests prior to arrival to get all the necessary information and ask them to have any documents ready for collection as soon as they arrive. Hotels located on islands, where most guests will arrive with the same flights/ferry should prepare a plan to accommodate multiple check-ins at the same time. If the time window between check-in and check-out will not allow you enough time to prepare and conduct this process safely, consider extending the gap between them and communicate the same to your guests
It might sound contre-intuitive but, many hotels – including global chains – will have someone taking the guests’ temperature the moment they will go through the door. Although you might think that this is a bit invasive, hotel guests will know that you apply this to all visitors and instantly create positive mental connotations about your level of preparedness, seriousness and professionalism.
If your hotel doesn’t have a full F&B outlet, it is quite common that breakfast is served in a small area where in the past guests would socialize over a cup of coffee. In the post COVID-19 era this would be an absolute no-go. Consider offering in-room breakfast for all guests (costs permitting and if you can ensure hygiene protocols), packaged breakfast or try to space out the utilization of the space by extending the breakfast timing and informing guests accordingly.
This is a big area of discussion on its own, here are a few tips: ensure that personnel is wearing personal protective equipment, both for their safety and the well-being of the guests. Use certified disinfectants to clean up the rooms and public spaces frequently. Create a new check lists for your housekeeping, any and all items that could have been touched by guests should be disinfected. Don’t leave it to “common sense”. Use encasement where possible to protect the pillows and mattress from fluids. If you can afford it, invest in state-of-the-art air cleaning technology.
Position small signs/reminders across the property. Those could include advice on how to refrain from shaking hands with other guests and staff, maintaining a minimum distance of at least 1 meter and avoid anyone who’s coughing or sneezing. While this is necessary, it can also be quite unpleasant to walk around and read those signs. Try to make it as “light” as you can, maybe even engage some humor or internet memes – but always make sure the message is coming across.
Mask & Medical Kits
Over and beyond your employees, it’s highly advisable that guests have access to fresh masks and basic medical kits. Consider placing those at the reception and create small medical kits for each room. Those should include personal mask, gloves, hand sanitizer in the form of gel or spray. In many cases, local regulation will oblige all guests to wear at least a mark, consider going the extra mile by offering your guest a plethora of options
Ensure that anything and everything you do to protect your employees and guests are properly communicated. From your website to your newsletters and from in-room communication to your social media channels, guests should be able to find all that information while they search, compare options and even during their stay. As traveller’s habits are changing, you want to ensure that potential guests know you are taking care of the things that are most important to them.
Most importantly make sure you stay close to local authorities and tourism board. While each country will implement a different set of rules, make sure you follow to the letter the guidelines from your local authorities (must have) before moving on to more actions (nice to have). World Health Organization suggests that you keep a logbook of all actions that you take.
Bonus tip: Surveys
Surveys: here are the final recommendations for small hotel managers. In the absence of standardized rules & regulations many of those additional measures will be effective and others will have no impact on guests. But how do you know which ones? Consider running frequent surveys to better understand which of those measures have a positive impact on the travelers. This can be done through post-stay emails or a simple chat with your guests during their stay, make sure you ask them three important things: 1) “what should we continue doing” 2) “what else should we start doing” and 3) “what should we stop doing”
Let us know what you think and which measures you consider putting in place – drop us a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org