Editor opinion piece: Attack is the best form of defence. We can choose to be either reactive or proactive in both our personal and professional lives.

After spending the most part of this week talking to hotel owners through the phone to get a more accurate picture of the impact of COVID-19 on their day to day operations and businesses, I can safely say that the situation is serious. The current circumstances demand more than a reactive approach to challenges, we will have to embrace a significant change in marketing and sales strategy.

 

This is time for diversification. Hotels can't rely solely on occupancy levels and F&B right now. With guests and diners choosing to stay at home, hotels have to find opportunity in providing solutions for the current crisis too.  

 

What are the facts?

  • A large number of hotels are receiving more cancellation requests than booking queries.
  • People are not feeling safe going to or spending time in public places for leisure, they are choosing to spend more time at home. 
  • Airport closures and flight cancellations have significantly affected the industry, occupancy levels are suddenly lower than expected for at least the next four to five months.
  • Most private and corporate events are being either postponed or cancelled.
  • Foreign staff concerned about the crisis are choosing to return to their home country for the time being. 
  • Suppliers are experiencing issues too with shortage of staff or essential supplies, deliveries are taking longer and are not quite as consistent.
  • Independent Hotels that rely on local supermarkets are experiencing problems finding certain ingredients and supplies too, they are suddenly spending more to have them shipped. 
  • A few hotel owners are unsure how they will cope with a significant loss in revenue for the next few months, some feel they might have to close their doors temporarily to cut losses or indefinely. 

 

What can you do?

  • Promote your online vouchers like never before.
  • What branded items or local products can you sell via our website? It's time to invest in e-commerce your website is a shopping portal.
  • Add the option for takeaway food, talk to your suppliers about the ingredients that they can guarantee to deliver (and for how long), chefs can keep busy this way as people still want to eat, but more at home. Your local audience is the most important audience right now.
  • Offer "hotel housekeeping services" to local residents for a premium rate.
  • Digital marketing prevails: Attract your audience with virtual tours of the property, these can be done live with your events manager showcasing the property to a prospective client.
  • Do you have a kitchen garden? If you can have one, why not? This is the time to develop a yearly plan for ingredients you can rely on, from your very own grounds.
  • Is there anything your community needs that you could provide for a fee? Do they need extra supplies that you can easily get? You can be a local shop too.
  • Whether you are a five-star property or a guesthouse, drop B&B rates for the foreseeable future.

 

What is available to you?

  • All business properties in Scotland will get a 1.6% rates relief.
  • Small businesses will receive grants of at least £3000 from an £80m fund (learn more).

 

What you should not do

  • Be unflexible with cancelation fees and refunds. Guests are cancelling because they have to, make your terms and conditions very clear for this specific issue too.
  • Raise prices for a short-term fix: This will be a disaster in the long-term as you will lose guest loyalty too.
  • Pay a higher price for items companies are taking advantage of the crisis to profiteer from: If your supplier is one of them, find another supplier.

 

Very often it is during crisis that new business opportunities are created, business is about supply and demand, hotels can supply a lot more than hospitality when there is less demand for beds and chairs, they can provide solutions for their community too. 

 

Everyone is on the same boat, the crisis isn't only affecting hospitality, we can do all we can to find opportunity in what we already have. 

 

Renata Fernandes
Founder/Editor
@editorfivestar

 


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