Travel, tourism, and hospitality—the #1 business in the world with a global GDP of 10%, accounting for 1 in every 10 employees (Source: hospitalitynet) came to an abysmal standstill abruptly. Overnight everything changed… Globally, job losses have been estimated at about 100 million.
Recovering from this catastrophe will take time. Sure, a vaccine will mark the end of this pandemic, finally enabling the sector to raise its head, but one needs to be prepared with a sustainable strategy for revival that will instill a sense of trust and comfort in the minds of our target audience.
It is very important to be cognizant of the current prevailing sentiments surrounding travel. The fear associated with this health crisis is preventing people from venturing out of their comfort zones, except for basic necessities. The world is more careful and particular about cleanliness now more than ever. In such a scenario, though people are craving for a holiday, planning one is a far cry.
Even post this pandemic, people will continue to be anxious about travel for a multitude of reasons: Hygiene, safety, affordability (many have lost their jobs or been sent on furlough), etc. Tourism hotspots are no longer the preferred choice… Expectations have changed and people now are looking to safeguard health above all else. Thus, we need to work on reinstituting how ‘Hospitality’ will work going forward.
We need to start with rebuilding confidence in the minds of travellers. For this, brands need to provide clarity and transparency on what processes they have implemented to ensure upkeep of safety, hygiene and health of the guests and the staff in each property.
Create a well thought-through procedure to rebuild trust in the minds and hearts of our guests. At Cygnett, we have modeled our comprehensive protection program, “Health & Safety Assured” ” in adherence with the guidelines set by the World Health Organisation and the local and central health care agencies. These SOPs and guidelines have been made sacrosanct across all our properties to ensure that guests have a consistent comfortable experience. We have also upgraded and implemented new technology to ensure a “contact less” experience. Our guidelines include:
- Rigorous training on hygiene and sterilization protocols, social distancing for all staff.
- Staff trained to identify possible symptoms caused by COVID19 and take appropriate action immediately.
- Up-to-date Property Management System to provide contactless check-in & check out using mobile apps.
- QR code-based menus for a more comfortable in-house dining experience.
- Health and immunity-boosting foods in out menus
While rebuilding guest trust and loyalty is vital. It is equally; if not more important to ensure that your employees are united and motivated in this time. Take this slow period to enhance the morale and skill of your teams via different types of training sessions. Keep the team informed of the hotel’s evolution and business expectations.
Secondly, in these uncertain times, it is very important to be flexible—offer free cancellations, provide a longer period for any change that a traveller may want to make post reservation; be more adaptable on the upgrade policy in unexpected situations; Quick and easy check-in/out to prevent crowds and long lines.
Clarity in communication is paramount—you need to constantly highlight to your guests the facilities available to them, so that they feel more at ease. Whether it is the 24/7 medical care; constant interaction with authorities to ensure all processes are being followed; personalized transport to a location of their choice along with guidelines about that particular location; Laundry services, your housekeeping/hygiene policies, a guide of activities that they can indulge in along with contact details of personnel authorized and trusted by the property, etc.
This crisis has indicated to us that “digital” is the new normal, calling for all brands to upgrade their technology and tools. To meet the level of personalization that is needed to keep your guests comfortable and loyal, it is imperative to jump on to the ‘digital transformation’ bandwagon.
They say that every cloud has a silver lining; we should look at this time as an opportunity to sit back and reimagine how we were doing things and what needs to change now. People are eagerly waiting to step out and explore the world again. It’s just a matter of time; the hospitality sector will bounce back within a short-term post the end of the pandemic.