Crises in the hotel industry are nothing new. Hospitality companies of all shapes and sizes, from international chains to independent guest houses, have had to deal with terrorist attacks, government upheavals, epidemics like the SARS outbreak and more.
What makes coronavirus so unique is the sheer extent of its reach. Almost overnight, it’s caused governments across the world to shut down entire economies. And the hotel industry has been more negatively impacted than perhaps any other sector. Travel bans, lockdowns and reduced staff levels have combined to create what many see as an unprecedented crisis.
In this article, we’re going to look at seven ways that hotels have responded to the challenges and opportunities that coronavirus has presented.
1. Wyndham Hotels and Resorts: Provide Clear, Concise Communication
Wyndham Hotels and Resorts is one of the biggest hotel chains in the world. It has nearly 10,000 hotels across more than a dozen countries. With thousands of guests unsure about the status of their bookings, their refund options and country-specific restrictions, there was a pressing need for easily accessible information.
Wyndham responded by publishing detailed online guidance. The company issued an early statement along with several subsequent (and ongoing) updates. An FAQ for guests, highlighted prominently on its main site, is also available. Phone and email lines remain open for enquiry.
Some Wyndham brands like Travelodge are also offering flexible client booking options, based on the understanding that plans and government guidelines may change at short notice.
2. Airbnb: Protect Your Suppliers
Airbnb got off to a rocky start with its coronavirus response. The company was accused of protecting customers at the expense of its hosts by allowing guests to make last-minute cancellations and receive full refunds. This would leave many hosts struggling to survive, with bills and mortgages still to pay.
Since then, Airbnb has raised a one billion dollar package to support its hosts. CEO Brian Chesky has said that hosts will receive 25% of their cancellation fee. He also wrote to his suppliers with an apology and promised to take more practical steps to help.
3. Claridge’s: Offer to Help
Most hotels in Europe have been forced to close completely to paying guests. But this hasn’t stopped some from offering to help local communities and frontline medical staff.
Claridge’s, for example, has offered empty rooms, along with breakfast and dinner, to NHS workers that don’t have anywhere else to go. Co-owner Paddy McKillen was quick to provide the rooms, most of which would usually cost hundreds of pounds per night, citing Claridge’s similar role in the Second World War.
A host of other hotels in London, where the outbreak was at its most severe, have also stepped up to help, including The Lanesborough, The Berkeley and The Connaught.
4. Marriott: Prioritise Guest and Staff Safety
As governments begin to ease lockdown rules, many hotels are looking towards the future. Hygiene and safety measures concerning both staff and guests should be a priority.
Customers and workers need to know that they are in a safe environment when they are in a hotel. A reputation for poor hygiene will be disastrous for any hotel in a post-COVID-19 world.
Marriot has introduced a wide array of health measures. This approach will ease customer anxiety and protect staff. It will also, of course, ensure that Marriott hotels are fully in line with government regulations in their respective countries.
5. Greydon House, The New Yorker Hotel, Labotessa Hotel and Others: Offer “Buy Now Stay Later” Options
Without bookings, most hotels’ revenues have dried up entirely. One innovative strategy that has grown increasingly popular, however, gives customers the opportunity to purchase “hotel bonds”.
Would-be guests buy a certificate which can be redeemed in exchange for a room. After sixty days, the value of the certificate increases by $50.
A number of hotels are offering what are in essence discounted vouchers that can be validated at a later date as part of this “Buy Now Stay Later” scheme, with many opting to buy more than one bond.
6. Premier Inn: Prepare for Future Growth
While the vast majority of businesses in the hospitality sector are rightly focused on short-term survival, this doesn’t mean there aren’t potential opportunities. Many people will be eager to start travelling again once restrictions ease, with pent-up demand a key consideration for hoteliers. Furthermore, gaps in the market left by hotels that are unable to continue operating provide unique openings for investors.
Premier Inn has started to raise capital from investors through a rights offering, with a view to taking advantage of opportunities that will arise as things get back to normal. Wyndham Hotels is also looking to sign smaller independent hotels that won’t be able to continue trading.
7. Hilton: Embrace New Tech
Hilton CEO, Chris Nassetta has said that it will take around four years for his hotel chain’s success to return to pre-COVID-19 levels. Interestingly, he has argued that the speed with which the industry bounces back will be determined in large part by hotels’ willingness to adopt new technologies like contactless payments and digital check-in.
The Hilton will be conducting regular temperature checks on its employees while also enforcing the use of protective equipment. Customers will be able to select a room, receive a key and enter via a contactless point of entry using an app. The company is also working with various partners, like Mayo Clinic, to ensure new levels of cleanliness.
Interested in a Career in Hotel Management?
While the long-term effects of coronavirus aren’t yet known, it’s a near-certainty that the corporate world will change in significant ways. The need for forward-thinking, creative business leaders is as great now as it has ever been.
A degree from EU Business School will provide you with the skills, experience and confidence to pursue a successful career in your industry of choice. Take a look at the Bachelor of Arts in Leisure & Tourism Management and the Master in Tourism & Hospitality Management.