Hoteliers in the UK have faced a tough winter, with a strict lockdown in place meaning hotels were closed for months. But there is now light at the end of the tunnel, as hotels have been able to open up again ahead of the summer season.
This time is very important for hoteliers, so Katherine Grass of Optii Solutionsshares the top insights from conversations with UK hoteliers and advice for reopening, as now is a critical time for hoteliers to prepare their operations.
Finding, training and retaining staff
Staffing is currently one of the biggest concerns for hoteliers, as they want to ensure they have the right number of skilled staff in place to operate in the new environment. UK hoteliers might want to make use of the flexible furlough scheme provided by the Government so that they can operate with a lean operating team during the initial summer months as hotels get to grips with the new normal.
Speaking of furlough, hopefully you may also be welcoming back many staff who have been on furlough for extended period of time as well as new employees. Training is critical in this period leading up to reopening, as not only will new staff members need to learn all about day-to-day operations, but your furloughed staff will most likely need a refresh on the new operating guidelines and requirements around social distancing and hygiene.
Communication is key
Transparency and managing expectations are vital to ensure your guests receive the best experience. Reviews have always had a big impact on whether people book, and this will only be increased as people begin to book and travel again so ensuring every guest stay is memorable for the right reasons is essential. Hotel stays have inevitably changed under new guidelines with social distancing in place, increased cleaning in communal areas and reduced amenities and services.
In our recent panel Adapt or Stay Behind, we discussed the importance of communicating with your guests in advance of their trip, highlighting what services are reduced or unavailable, what they can expect during their stay in terms of cleaning and service and offer the opportunity for the guests to communicate their preferences for interaction with staff so you can schedule your teams accordingly.
Of course, hoteliers want to try to stay as positive as possible with the reopening, but it is so important that plans are put in place for worst case scenarios so that you and your team are prepared. You need to have a plan in place in case someone within your hotel, either guest or staff, tests positive for COVID-19. How will you communicate this to your other staff members and guests and how will you be able to isolate the contact people have had with the person who has tested positive? These are all things to consider now so that this and other potential scenarios don’t have a negative impact on your day-to-day operations and also your guest’s experience.
Collaboration and sharing of information are also one of the most useful ‘tools’ as all hoteliers are facing the uncertain road to recovery together. By sharing insights and information that has worked and hasn’t, we can help rebuild the hospitality industry better than before. We’re delighted that UK hotels are able to open their doors again and we wish everyone in the industry the best of luck as we navigate operating in this new world of hospitality.