25 Steps to Get Customers Back to Your Hotel after the Сoronavirus Pandemic
COVID-19 has forced lots of hotels to shut down for months, which caused profit losses and employee downsizing. Now, it is not easy for many organizations to resume operations quickly.
However, there are a number of steps that can help to renew business activities shortly , as well as win back the loyalty of your customers and staff.
These are a few points to be taken into consideration:
- All safety measures should comply with the official recommendations from the World Health Organizations, the European Commission, etc. (e.g., the European Commision guidance) . Note that all hospitality establishments will try to implement similar protective measures against COVID-19. . In this case, using advanced and cost-effective technology solutions may be a competitive advantage, allowing them to be back to the market quickly.
- Many people are ready to travel, as they have got tired of self-isolation and psychological pressure induced by COVID-19. So, the goal is to communicate that the hotel is ready to welcome guests. However, some potential tourists are scared to be infected, and they need guarantees of safety. Here, the hotel is to show that it cares about public health and guarantees the safety of its customers and employees.
- Be ready that people do not like restrictions, such as keeping physical distancing, etc. To minimize possible annoyance, gamification elements can be introduced to make this process fun and even educational. This is a good opportunity to apply creativity and get a competitive edge.
Following this list of suggested steps will help to re-engage existing customer base and win over new clients as part of the customer retention strategies. Customizing these steps to your own business model and facilities will help to keep your clients and staff active and engaged and will become a driving force to help battling the aftermath of the post-pandemic crisis and getting your clients’ lives and your business back to normal.
Create an advantage
- Prepare a plan of outbreak-preventive measures for every facility and designate a person responsible for their execution
The plan should be based on recommendations issued by local authorities in coordination with higher authorities and health organizations. Such documents may help to quickly outline a map without missing important points. Note that the plan should be regularly reviewed and adjusted if necessary, taking into account all relevant expertise and the constantly changing COVID-19 situation.
Include a plan of action on how to tighten restriction measures (if required) and how to gradually remove restrictions. This will help to react efficiently when the situation changes.
Assign a person who will keep the plan up to day and control its execution. This should iIdeally be done by one person to easily track performance and eliminate failures to comply with task objectives.
- Screen your employees’/contractors’ temperature at the beginning and at the end of the day (manually or automatically)
Try not to detract people from their duties. Moreover, employees may be stressed by traditional measurement procedures especially if they are afraid to lose their job due to sickness. However, temperature checks have to be accurate and regular with every employee in the area screened. This will help to detect potentially infected people on time.
The market already offers a number of monitoring solutions that can be installed into an in-house video surveillance system to ensure continuous monitoring of the premises. An example of such a solution is Fever Screener. Powered by artificial intelligence , Fever Screener effectively responds to high body temperature and sends immediate alerts to help you act early.
- Screen your clients’ temperature to prevent a disease outbreak
Similar to controlling the temperature of employees and contractors, measurements of clients’ temperature should be made carefully without annoying or scaring them. Meanwhile clients should be informed about temperature monitoring being done on premises to ensure safety.
If there is a monitoring system installed, such as Fever Screener, make sure you have dedicated staff members responsible for maintaining the system, providing clear instructions on what they should do in case of an emergency. Moreover, tools like Fever Screener ensure that you are able to easily conduct contact tracing activities and provide timely information if a potentially infected individual is detected in the area.
Please note that hotels may be requested to provide any necessary information regarding guests or staff members who may have been in contact with an infected person from 2 days before and 14 days after the onset of symptoms in the person. Being able to easily provide this information can be a good point to your relationship with authorities.
- Provide all your employees with personal protective equipment (PPE): disposable gloves, face masks or respirators, and hand sanitizers
Give instructions on how to use PPE so as not to turn away customers. Use masks and gloves when cleaning the rooms and when physical distancing cannot be guaranteed. Try to get protective equipment branded, creative, and fun.
For reception areas, glass or plastic panels are more appropriate instead of face masks.With a face uncovered, reception staff will look more friendly to clients, which would help to create a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere, while ensuring safety.
- Provide your guests with face masks and safety instructions
Make face masks creative, branded, and even personalized. If you have an entertaining team, they can communicate safety instructions to your guests in an interactive and educational manner. Amusing facemasks and interesting safety training will cheer up people, make them share their fun experience via social media, take masks home as souvenirs, and, therefore, promote your services.
Please note that face masks should be considered only as a complementary measure, not replacing core preventive measures.
- Make sure there is at least one filled-up hand sanitizer in each public room
Try to make sanitizer dispensers clearly visible and place them in appropriate places, for example, at entrances to a hotel, as well as in restaurants or bars on site.
Try to use high-quality, non-toxic, and non-sticky sanitizers with neutral or no fragrance, which is especially important if there are kids among your guests.
Place a simple instruction on how to apply sanitizer, how frequently it should be used, and what precautions should be taken. Stressing that you are using a high-quality liquid will bring you another advantage.
- Make sure there is always liquid soap and a hand sanitizer in each restroom
In order not to confuse your customers and eliminate misuse of hygiene products, make the bottles with liquid soap and a hand sanitizer visually different.
- Perform daily disinfection cleaning in every facility, using long-lasting chemicals, UVC lamps, or mobile disinfection solutions
Note that using some long-lasting chemicals may be inappropriate, as they can cause an allergic reaction or produce unpleasant smell. Moreover, many people care about nature and avoid using chemicals for domestic purposes. This way, try to choose eco-friendly chemicals or pay attention to UVC disinfection options.
One of the great alternative tools that can fit the purpose is UV Disinfection Robot . Operating in a semiautomatic mode, the robot with inbuilt ultraviolet lights disinfects rooms and surfaces, while effectively destroying harmful microorganisms.
- Schedule regular ventilation checks, as well as instruct your housekeeping staff to open windows frequently to provide air circulation
Good air circulation is a must. Keeping the air fresh not only helps your customers to feel more comfortable but also lowers the risk of infection. You should install additional filters if you have a forced ventilation system, as well as make sure it works correctly without spreading harmful microorganisms throughout the rest of the rooms. Do not forget to change filters regularly based on ventilation manufacturer recommendations.
Instruct cleaners to open windows in the rooms being cleaned. Put a note for guests to highlight the importance of room ventilation through windows even if it is hot outside and using air conditioning is much more tempting.
- Perform thorough disinfection of the rooms after a checkout, using long-lasting chemicals or UVC lamps
Make a separate checklist (or disinfection protocol) for cleaners and make sure that it is used during each disinfection of the rooms after a checkout. Don not forget to list all frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles, chairs and armrests, table tops, light switches, water taps, etc. Include room ventilation for at least one hour after a checkout. Add instruction about the treatment of cleaning equipment, waste management, as well as laundry and personal hygiene after cleaning.
Using UVC solutions, such as UV Disinfection Robot will make disinfection faster and more efficient with less chemicals. With the system, you can lighten cleaners’ work and minimize complaints about chemical smell.
- Keep at least 1.5-meter distance between tables at on-site restaurants/bars/ cafes ( the same applies to sunbeds, training equipment at the gym, etc.)
Respiratory droplets travel at a distance of 1 meter when breathing, 1.5 metres when speaking, and 2 metres when coughing. Physical distancing is considered as one of the most important measures to prevent an outbreak, so you should pay special attention to it. ,Try to detect guests who share one room. In future, you will be able to timely inform them if one of the roommates got infected. For this purpose, you can use hotel bracelets colors.
Set a maximum number of guests allowed in each facility, guarantee the required physical distance, and control that the maximum number of people is not exceeded. If possible, conduct all events outdoors and ensure physical distancing.
Some guests may not like such restrictions.This way, try to control physical distancing in a creative and friendly way.
Keep the advantage
- Provide each employee with safety instructions
Make instructions short and clear to guarantee that they are read, understood and followed. Highlight such points as respiratory etiquette, hand hygiene, the usage of face masks, ventilation, cleaning, and disinfection. Conduct a training session on safety measures for all newly hired employees to be sure all staff have full and up-to-date information.
- Add precaution measures to regular instructions
COVID-19 clearly showed that precaution measures should be taken at all times, not only during the pandemic. The better your employees understand the importance of preventing measures and follow regular instructions, the better your business is protected in case of an outbreak. Such devices as Fever Screener and UV Disinfection Robot can be used constantly. The system can efficiently detect high temperatures and report which individual needs immediate medical assistance. By taking every precaution and guaranteeing timely medical care, you demonstrate employees and customers your social responsibility.
- Make sure housekeeping staff has enough time for additional disinfection
To understand how much time additional disinfection takes, just conduct an experiment. Ask a regular cleaner to make additional disinfection of an area, using a checklist. Note that the procedure will take more time when it is done for the first time.
Bearing the results in mind, estimate an effort for additional disinfections. Based on the estimate, you will be able to determine how many housekeepers need to be available for these activities. Good planning of the workload of your employees will allow you to make the process more cost-effective.
- Perform regular checkups
Implemented measures are only helpful if they are used constantly. Therefore, a certain level of control is absolutely required to ensure that all instructions and plans are followed by all employees.
Assign a person responsible for checkups, describe the procedure, and set frequency for performing checkups. Employees should understand that checkups are done to enforce consciousness and responsibility across the organization.
- Monitor the situation and make corrections if necessary
Review and reevaluate implemented measures regularly, taking into account all relevant expertise and considerations to remain proportionate to the current level of public health needs.
Deploy new and more efficient solutions, while abandoning more burdensome measures. The principle of cost-effectiveness should be respected, as it is important for every business to feel safe on the market.
- Conduct monthly safety training sessions for your employees
Keep people informed about the full set of implemented measures, their purposes, and outcomes. Educate your employees, as well as provide updates from the local authorities concerning the pandemic. Make training interesting and helpful in order to encourage people to share this information and follow safety rules. Ask people to share their ideas, as well as let them criticize already implemented measures and processes. Being open for discussion with the staff and ready to accept negative feedback usually allows for generating bright ideas. Moreover, if conducted properly, such regular training can be considered as a team-building event.
- Encourage your staff to stay home when having any illness symptoms
Following official recommendations, staff experiencing symptoms compatible with COVID-19 should not enter a working environment, stay self-isolated, as well as follow a local public health guidance and seek medical assistance if the symptoms worsen.
Try to build a trustful atmosphere in your team. In this case, people will let you know if they feel sick. Note that some people may hide dangerous symptoms if they feel that they cannot go on an unpaid sick leave. Encourage employees to be conscious and responsible in case of feeling unwell.
Communicate the advantage
- Create a PDF brochure listing all the information on how you safeguard your employees and guests
First, let people know that your hotel is ready to welcome guests. Add your moto, your general approach and attitude towards ensuring safety, and detailed information about implemented measures. The brochure should explicitly demonstrate the advanced measures you are to introduce, which proves that you care about your guests and staff.
Note that people need to be sure that a sufficient health system capacity is in place. A good point would be to provide information about the ability of a local healthcare system to provide high-quality help. In case of emergency, ensure that quick transportation of a sick person to a hospital is possible 24/7.
Adapt the brochure to your regular client profile: highlight the advantages important for your target audience and describe them clearly to reach your customers. This applies to all printed or digital materials. Obviously, there will be a significant difference in design and the way how content is presented based on audience segmentation.. You should approach your customers individually, either they are on summer vacation with children or on a business trip.
Include special offers and promotions in the brochure. Give your clients more reasons to stay at your hotel.
- Create a brief paper on the same topic but list only the most important measures
Carefully select key measures that give you an advantage. Try to distinctly present this advantage to your customers. Use visual data to make information easily perceivable.
- Launch an e-mail campaign to let all your customers know about the outstanding measures you have taken.
- Create an advertising campaign (PPC, social media) to show that now your hotel is even safer
- Send the brochures to all agencies you cooperate with
Your partners will be grateful for this promotion material that helps agents to communicate with potential customers. When a customer is making a decision about accomodation, having additional information about your hotel presented in a smart and easily understandable way would be an advantage.
- Issue a press release
- Update information about the hotel on Booking, Airbnb, Tripadvisor, etc.
These resources are really good advertisers. Encourage your happy guests to post their feedback on these web sites.
”Following this list of suggested steps will help to re-engage an existing customer base and win over new clients as part of customer retention strategies. Customizing these steps to your own business model will help to keep your customers/staff active and engaged. This will also become a driving force to battle the aftermath of the post-pandemic crisis, as well as get your customers’ lives and your business back to normal.
The following table is a summary of all action points described in the article and provides a high-level overview of possible costs and effective time ranges for a business. The cost and time will depend on various factors such as size of the business, government support offered for overcoming the crisis, as well as changing behavior patterns of the people in the area due to the long-term self-isolation and quarantine.