Covid-19: (Re)opening ceremony

The true lift on lockdown will be decided by individuals who rebook only when they feel comfortable to do so.

Inevitably, a number of operational changes will need to be made before hotels can reopen and resume a slightly amended service, in line with health and safety regulations for both guests and staff. This is not only important for compliancy but also to protect your brand reputation and therefore enhance sales. Every business will need a recovery plan. This will include a critical path for reopening, solutions that address short term problems and a clear set of actions that respond to the new physical and emotional needs of customers and staff.

To a certain degree, the true lift on lockdown will be decided by individuals, not the government. Guests will rebook when they feel comfortable to do so. Sensitivity, compassion and intelligence on behalf of the hotelier is therefore key, and we must do all we can to reassure guests to put their trust in hoteliers.

More permanent changes could be made to the SOPs and layout of communal spaces. Can your check-in process be made digital? There has been resistance to the idea of pod hotels, whereby guests check in on their phone and do not come into contact with anyone for the duration of their stay. But this model is quicker, easier and cheaper (and savings can be passed on to the customer), and seems sensible and somewhat inevitable as a common procedure in the current climate.

Alternatively, reconfigure (or relocate) the check-in desk to ensure a 2m distance is maintained between receptionist and guest. This doesn’t have to look institutional – the addition of an extrawide desk covered in travel books, candles and objects d’art would create an attractive feature of this space.

Rearrange furniture in communal areas to ensure seating is an appropriate distance apart, which will probably involve removing some furniture. Make sure you leave plenty of room for guests and staff to safely pass one another between furniture.

In terms of sanitation, discuss the addition of mini sanitisers and guest face masks with your amenities supplier, considering the implications of increased plastic and packaging. Could this be offset elsewhere in the hotel? Disinfect key cards before and after use, add sanitising stations around the hotel and research professional air purifiers to ensure clean and fresh air.

Standard operating procedures (both FOH and BOH) should be reviewed. Areas of particular scrutinisation should include guest safety, luggage handling, housekeeping and receiving deliveries. Introduce new procedures pertaining to emergency closure and contamination. In terms of BOH, consider the layout of staff areas and limit the number of employees having a break / using a staff room at the same time.

The risk to staff would be considerably decreased with fewer check-ins. Over the course of a week, one couple rather than seven individual sets of guests per room would drastically reduce their risk of contracting infection, and so you might consider introducing a minimum stay policy or attractive discounts for longer stays in the interest of your staff. As always, a thoughtful and intelligent explanation of any policy change should be clear and accessible.

Consider editing your recovery plan into a guidebook to reassure both staff and guests. This could include everything from the arrival and check in of guests, to set up of public areas, housekeeping and staff interactions.

Contact Hannah

If you are looking to develop an existing or brand new hotel concept,
guest experience or creative strategy, I’d love to help.



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