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Expert’s Voice: How hotels can stay prepared for business after COVID-19

by | 22 May 2020 | Experts

Caption: More robots are being used in Japanese hotels to be COVID compliant. (Photo: Alex Knight / Unsplash)

Olivia Cal, Content Marketing Associate at Cvent, shares top tips on how hotels the world over can stay afloat during Covid confinement and ramp up after lockdown lifts.

These are challenging times, but they’ve also brought us together in unexpected ways. As we forge ahead, it helps to be mindful of the good deeds and helping hands that will get us through this downturn.

Ways hotels can stay prepared for MICE business after COVID-19

Great ideas empower us to thrive and move toward a better day. We’ll cover a few pressing questions with ideas for how to address them and data points to help you prepare for the future.

How to stay visible on sourcing networks

One of the best ways to keep event planners informed about what’s going on at your hotel is via your website and on sourcing platforms. Cvent’s Supplier Network makes it easy to keep hotel profile pages up to date. It’s critical information that planners are looking for as they continue to submit RFPs for future events and check in to see if your hotel is active. Here are some tips on how to update and optimise your Cvent Supplier Network profile:

  • Fill in “need dates.” These dates indicate when you are looking for business. Make sure none of the need dates are live for dates that you anticipate being closed.
  • Add promotions. Like need dates, update your promotions so that the dates don’t overlap with dates you’re not accepting MICE business.
  • Include opening date/update property name. If you’re currently closed, use the opening date field to let clients know when you expect to be up and operating. You can also add a tag to the end of your property name, flagging that you are temporarily closed.
  • Attach documents and/or include links. In the documents section of your profile, upload a PDF or link directly to messaging you have on your website.

The more complete your Cvent Supplier Network profile, the more planners will see it. Make sure your venue details are correct, all amenities are updated, and don’t forget to add
high-quality images!

How social distancing may change future in-person meetings

This remains a topic under discussion within the industry. Still, social distancing will likely affect future meetings in many ways – one of the most notable being room and seating configuration.

Spain, for example, is already preparing for life after lockdown. The Madrid Hotel Business Association is working on a proposal to provide hotels that meet requirements with a “COVID Free Hotel” certification.

Plaza España Design is also configuring their hotel space to suit new requirements and optimise safety for all guests.

Some of the safety measures are screens between tables, sanitary welcome kits, coronavirus checks upon arrival, multiple disinfectant dispensers in hotel rooms, buffets to be replaced with picnic baskets, restaurant and bar capacity reduced significantly and bans on queuing.

Javier Pérez Jiménez, the managing director of the VP chain, believes hotels will need to go the extra mile when it comes to safety, and does not care if he is being “paranoid.”

Hilton, in addition, recently announced a new programme to maintain sanitation and cleanliness in their properties across the world. They will collaborate with RB, maker of Lysol and Dettol and consult Mayo Clinic to improve processes and deliver team training. All to ensure guests receive a cleaner, safer stay.

“Research indicates that consumers have heightened concerns regarding hygiene on their journey, and trust in cleanliness standards will be critical to restarting travel,” Hilton said in a statement.

8 ways in which Hilton will maintain standards:

  • Adding room seals to each room door notify that the room has not been accessed since its last thorough clean
  • Disinfection of the most commonly used guest room areas
  • De-cluttering paper amenities
  • Improved guidelines for the disinfection of fitness centres within the hotels
  • Increased frequency of cleaning
  • Guest-accessible disinfecting wipes
  • Contactless check-in
  • Innovative disinfection technologies

Other establishments are planning to keep tables six feet apart and creating 12-foot aisles, putting tape marks on the carpet to indicate how far apart people standing in line should be from each other.

In the US, Jennifer Stewart of International Association of Chiefs of Police shared her team’s brainstorming ideas for educational session rooms and theater-style seating.

She’s hopeful that by October, they will be able to set up small groups of chairs near one another while still accommodating the social distancing recommendations.

For example, setting up columns of two chairs each with six-foot aisles in between, and having increased distance between chair rows – which is essentially theater setup with an increased number of aisles. This kind of configuration will work, presuming that people will feel comfortable sitting close to a known colleague or friend, yet leery of sitting too close to an “unknown” risk.

Event food and beverage during times of social distancing

All over the world, restaurants and bars are reassessing how they serve their food to comply with new social distancing regulations.

In the UK, for example, only a handful of establishments are open, but it’s anything but business as usual.

Pret A Manger, a popular sandwich shop in London found on every corner, has been adapting to the new social distancing guidelines to restart their business. Now, only five or six people are allowed into the cafe at the time; perspex screens separate the customers and staff; markings on the floor indicated how close people could stand and the menu, usually including 60 items, had been cut to 11 and was for takeaway only.

Bo Peabody, co-owner of Mezze Restaurant Group, outlined a few precautions for restaurants during this time that can also be applied to food and beverage spaces for meetings and events. He suggests going beyond spacing out tables and taking advantage of any outdoor space if you have it available – especially as we’re moving into the warmer months. Provide an open-air environment if possible, or make sure the room has airflow – open windows or keep a door cracked open so people don’t feel confined and the room gets fresh air.

In the US, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture distributed guidelines for food pantries and a few are also applicable to hotels and venues that provide food and beverage:

  • Consider keeping the amount of food on display low and restock more frequently to reduce the amount of food touched by different clients.
  • Instead of making food available for clients to browse, consider a menu-only option and have staff pre-pack the meal bags or boxes.
  • Restrict the number of people in the kitchen space to encourage social distancing and limit the number of people handling food.
  • Temporarily postpone any food demos or cooking classes and don’t offer food samples.

See how hotels across the world are lending a hand

As great ideas help to get MICE business back on track, good deeds such as these help us stay positive during times of struggle.

InterContinental London – The O2 provides free accommodation for healthcare workers

The Arora Group, owner of the InterContinental London – The O2, is providing complimentary accommodation to NHS teams working at The Nightingale Hospital at ExCel London.

Being a flagship hotel, it has 453 bedrooms and 40 serviced apartments and has hosted many conferences and events.

Surinder Arora, Founder and Executive Chairman, Arora Group said: “These very brave and dedicated NHS staff are putting their lives on the line, and if we provide a level of comfort to them for when they must rest, that’s the least we can do.”

Choice Hotels joins Serta “Stay Home, Send Beds” initiative

Choice Hotels has partnered with mattress brand Serta in its “Stay Home, Send Beds” initiative. Through it, Serta provides bed donations to help hospitals and temporary medical facilities that are experiencing shortages because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those who are members of the Choice loyalty program can donate their points toward beds for hospitals in need. For a limited time, Choice is doubling that impact by matching one hundred percent of donated points.

“We want to do our part to help those on the frontlines and facilitate care for those in need and, right now, every bed counts,” says Robert McDowell, chief commercial officer of Choice Hotels. “Our customers are looking for ways to safely give back during this pandemic and we’re proud to give them a way to do just that by supporting communities in need and contributing to this important cause.”

Robots in Japan used in Hotels to help coronavirus patients

To preserve hospital space, coronavirus patients with light symptoms are staying at several Tokyo hotels. What they probably didn’t expect is to be greeted by Pepper, manufactured by SoftBank Group Corp.

Pepper, kitted out ironically with a protective mask, holds a tablet, through which patients can interact with it. It tells visitors: “Please, wear a mask inside. I hope you recover as quickly as possible”, “I pray the spread of the disease is contained as soon as possible” and “Let’s join our hearts and get through this together.”

Pepper isn’t the only robot, though. A cleaning robot called Whiz, containing the latest Artificial Intelligence, has been deployed in hotels to clean the riskier zones – places hotel staff have limited access.

Japan has secured 10,000 hotel rooms across the country in which to house patients with lighter symptoms, according to the Health Ministry.In the Ryogoku Hotel, two nurses will be available around the clock, and a doctor will be available throughout the day.

Virtual classes and experiences

1. The Resort at Paws Up, a luxury glamping experience, is perfect for those who love the outdoors but still want all the comforts of a resort. They’ve launched an Instagram Live series called “Live from Big Sky Country,” where they invite you to join the resort’s experts in wildlife, wellness, cooking, and beyond.

Digital experiences range from yoga classes on the ranch, visiting the resident baby horses with the equestrian manager, foraging in the wilderness alongside an expert to see how they gather fresh ingredients, cooking classes, and learning to make body scrubs with the spa and wellness director.

The classes and experiences stream on the @theresortatpawsup Instagram page, but if you can’t view them live, you can catch up later in saved Instagram highlights.

2. Luxury island resort Amanyara in Turks & Caicos helps you relax with a series of free wellness videos. Escape the stress and start your wellness journey with @amanyara_resort on Instagram, where Aman’s wellness immersion manager David Melladew is releasing a series of health-focused videos.

Their Instagram page already includes videos like breathing techniques to help de-stress and an easy-to-follow, 15-minute yoga flow. For a different kind of destressing, they’ve also shared the recipe for a cooler mocktail with grapefruit juice, lime juice, and mint. Follow along for more recipes, workouts, and calming routines from the hotel.

3. It’s no secret that Nashville is world-famous for live music. The Bobby Hotel in Nashville is bringing a little piece of that straight to the palm of your hand with its new Instagram Live stream Keep It Spinnin’ – a virtual live music series.

Olivia Cal

Olivia Cal

Content Marketing Associate at Cvent

Olivia started her writing career as a music, film and theatre critic before moving into B2B. She has had 2+ years of experience writing for martech companies, covering digital marketing, retail and hospitality.

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