Brand presence over sales, continued customer engagement, and care for employees are among the things hotels need to do for survival and recovery, shared hoteliers during a webinar last week.
Organised by Bidroom on April 8, the Meet Hotel webinar featured a panel of speakers including Santikos Collection, managing director, Konstantinos Santikos; A.D.A Lombardia president and Hotel Dei Cavalieri & The Square – Milano Duomo general manager, Sara Abdel Masih; and Oberoi Hotels & Resorts, Dubai, director of sales & marketing, Dharmendra Sharma.
It was moderated by Bidroom, director of operations, Marcin Wesolowski.
During the session, the three hoteliers provided crisis recovery advice to an audience of 125 hospitality professionals, covering hotel branding, operations, guest relations, communications, finance and human resource management.
The panelists believe that decisive action and due diligence in these six areas will pay dividends.
In terms of guest relations, the panelists suggested that the hotel brand should take on the role of sales, through useful tips that the public could use. For instance, hotel departments could give advice on subjects such as house cleaning and sanitising for home, yoga stretches to keep fit in confined spaces, and recipes to eat well on less.
Sharma emphasised the need to “serve first, then sell later”.
Along the same lines, communications with clients should continue even when the hotel has temporary shuttered. Sharma advised against discussing business. Instead, the emphasis should be on empathy. Communications should be positive and supportive, and not exploitative.
Santikos urged hotels to be confident in their processes. He said returning guests would want to see enhanced hygiene efforts in housekeeping, and hotels need to demonstrate their full commitment to a reopening through thorough processes.
For hotels that are still open or will reopen in phases, standards need to be upheld. To do so, the panelists suggested reopening limited facilities and boost cash flow by optimising facilities that are opened. For instance, the single restaurant that is open could provide F&B delivery to the local community.
In terms of financial trimming, the panelists advised cuts in back office expenses to protect the hotel brand. Examples include closing hotel floors to improve energy efficiency, and reducing waste to keep F&B costs down.
Sara recommended eliminating investment plans, where necessary, while Sharma advised against a “carpet bombing” approach to room rates as hoteliers would face credibility problems when trying to reinstate normal rates later.
And finally, on human resource, Sara said hoteliers need to take care of their staff, and pay attention to their mental health and social-psychological needs. Hoteliers can help their staff serve customers from anywhere – on property, online, or in the community.
For staff working from home, full virtual access needs to be granted and companies need to invest in software and training to keep in contact with staff.
Bidroom will host its next Meet Hotel webinar on April 15, and the session will address the opportunities and challenges of finding new revenue streams through partnerships.