Because of the COVID-19 crisis, which has taken a huge toll on most industries, hoteliers are having to learn and apply New Normal Hotel Best Practices.
With government restrictions, weakened purchasing power and the general fear felt by people to venture outside their homes, a lot of businesses have felt the negative effects of the ongoing pandemic.
Among those that are worst hit are businesses within the tourism and services industry. Airlines, tourist spots, resorts, hotels, bars and restaurants are struggling to stay afloat amidst these trying times. Local travel is down and international travel has halted completely.
The hotel industry, in particular, is one of the industries which has suffered the most during these past two years. Those that have stayed open, or re-opened, have had to evolve quite a bit and apply New Normal hotel best practices.
They are also having to compete hard with each other. with many hotels regularly operating with little to no guests to serve.
Social distancing protocols mean that mass gatherings are not allowed. This directly affects the events and functions revenue of hotels. Food and Beverage is also affected since dine-in is limited, so restaurant capacity cannot be maximized.
As a result, many hotels have been forced to think outside the box and address these concerns. And we are seeing many innovations taking place in order for businesses to survive this pandemic.
What are hotels doing differently in this “new normal” situation?
I asked some local hotel managers about the innovations they have come up with. Innovations which have helped them to keep their hotels running. Despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic.
Here are some of the many New Normal Hotel Best Practices being implemented:
New Normal Hotel Best Practices “Contactless” Transactions
Many hotels have adopted a “contactless” system when it comes to transactions. And particularly for check-in and check-out.
Prior to arrival, guests can be asked to sign any required forms electronically and send them back to the hotel. And an online payment link can be sent via email for guests to pre-pay, using their credit card.
Likewise, bill settlement can be done via an online payment gateway. And a lot of hotels are also maximizing popular payment apps such as Gcash, Paymaya and Whatsapp Business.
For check-out, guests are asked to drop off their keys in a designated box, for sanitation.
Minimizing face-to-face transactions has been one clear initiative across most hotels for everyone’s safety.
New Normal Hotel Best Practices Removal Of “High-Touch” Guest Room Items
Five-star hotels have been known to provide anything a guest could possibly need, in their hotel room. In the past a hotel may not have replaced everything in a hotel room between guests, if it hadn’t been used.
But since the COVID pandemic, anything that previous guests may have touched is either removed or not provided at all. More and more hotels have done away with any unnecessary items in the room. Including; pens, hotel stationery, room service menus and information tent cards.
Some hotels have even removed mini bar items inside the room and only set them up if a guests ask for it.
Hotels now prefer to keep rooms as clean and clutter-free as possible. These items are still available for guests upon request.
New Normal Hotel Best Practices Changes in Housekeeping Protocols
Cleanliness and sanitation has always been the priority for the Housekeeping Department. But now hotels have had to implement changes and additional practices.
In some hotels, MUR (Make-Up Room) is only done every three days, for long-staying guests, instead of daily like it used to be. This is to minimize the exposure of the room attendants.
Once a guest checks out, room attendants are only allowed to enter the room twelve hours after the guest has vacated the room. And, as much as possible, recently vacated rooms are not assigned to incoming guests right away.
Room amenities now also include Sanitary Kits including masks and alcohol.
New Normal Hotel Best Practices Changes In Food and Beverage Protocols
As a response to government mandated safety protocols, hotel F&B outlets now follow space requirements for social distancing. And there is a maximum operating capacity, depending on current alert levels in that area.
Contactless payment transactions are done via secure online payment gateways. And some F&B outlets have done away with physical menus, replacing them with ones accessed through a QR Code. QR codes are also used for Feedback Survey Forms.
Self-serve buffets are no longer offered in most hotels. With some opting for Assisted buffets or replacing them with an order-all-you-can service. Some outlets provide paper bags or envelopes for guests to place their masks in while dining.
Innovations have also been implemented for take-away transactions such as self-heating hot boxes and contactless transactions for curbside pick-up.
New Normal Hotel Best Practices Virtual Events
As mass gatherings continue to be prohibited, hotels have found ways to continue to hold functions.
Many are offering organized virtual events or hybrid events; a combination of in-person and virtual attendees. Hotels are making use of technology to provide the same event quality, while ensuring the safety of all attendees.
New Normal Hotel Best Practices Employee Safety
Recent analysis has shown that most employee infections happen in the employee cafeteria, where masks are off and people tend to linger.
So, hotels have implemented changes to the way meals are provided to employees. Some hotels are now providing food in bento boxes with disposable cutleries. And staff are also discouraged from having prolonged conversations while eating, as they have no masks to protect them.
Taking this step further, Departmental briefings have also been cut down to a minimum. To avoid unnecessary exposure.
Antigen tests are also administered to employees every week or every two weeks to ensure they are virus-free.
Being a people-driven industry, where so much of the guest satisfaction relies on the ‘human touch’ that hoteliers are primed to deliver. It is difficult to introduce some of these changes without impacting on the guest experience.
However, as our health and safety is most likely our topmost priority currently, it is vital to implement and follow these new initiatives when it comes to hotel operations.
While some of these New Normal Hotel Best Practices have actually led to more efficient procedures, hoteliers hope that the world will return back to normal soon. So that we can go back to giving Standards of Service the hotel industry is famed for. Where guests can actually see our smiles. And feel the warmth of our handshake.
Until then, be safe and hope that the hotel industry will manage to stay afloat and rise above all of these challenges, to emerge stronger than before.