Coronavirus and the Hospitality Industry
01st April 2020
The spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is having an unprecedented impact on the hospitality and travel industry. Countries have closed their borders, travel has been reduced to essential only, airplanes have been grounded, hotels have suffered significant losses and in many cases have sadly but responsibly decided to close until further notice.
While it is difficult to predict when the crisis will be over, it is certain that, when life will start to get back to normal, people will want to travel our wonderful world again and the hotel industry will recover. However, traveller and hotel guest expectations will have changed, as safety is now people’s top priority. Travel and hospitality businesses will have to do their very best to communicate the measures they have adopted to look out for their guests.
In this blog article, we have compiled the latest news on the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry, useful resources, upcoming webinars, helpful initiatives for hotels to consider, positive news as well as a list of stories that tell a lot about how the sector has shown not only hospitality but also courage, kindness and solidarity during these challenging times.
Government support to the hospitality industry
Governments around the world are taking measures to safeguard the welfare of their citizens and support businesses under significant pressure during these challenging times.
Over the last few weeks, UKHospitality has repeatedly called on the government to provide immediate support and relief to the sector. To help businesses through the pandemic, the UK Government has created a £330bn package, including a series of ‘direct support’ measures such as tax cuts and millions in grants and loans.
If your business operates in the UK, you can find more information about British government support here. UKHospitality offers support and guidance during these challenging times and you can find all information here.
If you are in the US, you can find out more about American government support here.
If your business is in Canada, you can read all the Canadian government support measures here.
In Australia, the government announced a $189 billion coronavirus economic rescue package. Find out more information here.
How hotels are responding to Coronavirus | Positive stories
The hotel industry is facing unprecedented challenges but, when this crisis will be over, hotels will recover and we hope that everyone will remember the stories that have shown the courage, kindness and solidarity this sector is capable of. Drastic times call for drastic measures, and hotels have been able to act quickly to reinvent themselves and offer support to their own workforce, medical staff, rough sleepers and people who needed to self isolate. The stories are many and we report here a few.
Hilton is helping connect workers from temporarily closed hotels with thousands of short-term jobs created by the pandemic. Hilton workers have been given access to temporary jobs at companies like Amazon, Lidl, Albertsons and Walgreens (source: Hotel News Resource).
Best Western Great Britain has offered 15,000 bedrooms and 1,000 meeting rooms to help the NHS take the strain off hospital wards and allow staff to treat the most vulnerable patients (source: Hotel Owner).
Hampton by Hilton, Historic Grand Brighton and London's luxury hotel Claridge's are among the hotels that closed their doors to travellers but are keeping them open exclusively to NHS staff working locally to help communities. Andrew Monsley, General Manager of the Grand Brighton Hotel said: “We are proud to be playing a part in offering support to our precious NHS and the heroic people within it” (source: Hotel Owner).
Paris-based Accor worked with Accor hotel owners and relevant authorities to provide accommodation across France to medical staff involved in the fight against COVID-19, as well as for homeless people (source: BTN Europe).
California hotels, affected by the sudden drop in demand due to the coronavirus, are finding alternative uses, particularly as shelters for homeless residents of the state (Hotel New Now). In London, the InterContinental Hotel Group closed hotels and in collaboration with the Mayor of London Office agreed to provide accommodation to rough sleepers in the attempt to safeguard and protect everyone’s health in the city (Business Traveller).
Accommodation providers have not only offered their support to local communities and medical staff but also to their most important audience, their guests. Much more relaxed rules around loyalty programmes, refunds and cancellation policies have been implemented to offer as much flexibility as possible to their guests.
More positive stories are available on the HOSPA website.
Initiatives to support the hospitality industry
On the 31st of March, Hotel Owner reported that, with almost half a million hospitality workers expected to be made redundant or temporarily out of work due to Coronavirus, Caterer.com and UKHospitality have partnered to create a new jobs hub that will help these workers find short-term employment in other sectors. Positions include warehouse operative, retail assistant and care assistant at employers including Lidl, Superdrug, Amazon, Hermes and Co-op.
Here at Criton, we are determined to help hotels now so that, when the crisis is over, they will be ready and stronger than ever before. As people have become more conscious of and concerned about what they touch, Criton helps hotels create their own branded app that will enable them to reduce touchpoints, put guests' safety first and save money, as they do not need to worry about cleaning or replacing the in-room guestbook.
With a branded mobile app, hotels can enhance the guest experience and stay connected with their guests. To support the hospitality industry at this time, Criton is offering hotels a guest app completely free of charge until 2021.
The award-winning upselling platform Oaky, which allows hotels to boost the guest experience and ancillary services through targeted, customized pre-arrival upselling, is offering free set-up and full use of the platform for 90 days from go-live-date. By sending targeted, customised emails to guests pre-arrival, Oaky allows hotels to increase the average spend and create a unique stay experience.
The hotel industry software provider Cloudbeds have created #hospitalityhelps to connect property owners with health care providers, providing facilities during this time of need. Hospitality professionals willing to open their facilities can provide their information via #hospitalityhelps to assist government and healthcare agencies in need of open beds.
Property Management System Apaleo created #hospitalityheroes to provide hotels, public bodies and other relevant parties with a common platform to repurpose hotels as temporary hospitals.
Mews PMS powered the Hotels for Helpers initiative, created to offer hotel rooms at £25 per room per night to healthcare professionals, their family members and family members of patients in the Netherlands.
In the last few weeks, Avvio has announced a few bold initiatives which have supported hoteliers by enabling them to recoup potential losses from booking cancellations as a direct result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
In an effort to give back to the industry and to help hospitality individuals to upskill, Avvio launched the Hotel Digital Academy. The Academy will cover an introduction to digital marketing tailored specifically to the hospitality industry, through self-learning modules, a range of webinars and guides supported by the Avvio Digital team. Other initiatives include the Hotel Gift Card Store and the Guest Retention Voucher.
More initiatives to support the industry are available on the HOSPA Crisis Support page.
Tips for hotels to overcome Coronavirus
Compiling learning from across the globe, SiteMinder is offering the COVID-19 Toolkit, a series of tips and strong measures to face today’s challenges and be ready for tomorrow.
Hotel Owner published a very useful article on how to fund your hotel business through COVID-19 which is certainly worth checking out. Read the article here.
Useful tips on how to manage your marketing through the crisis are outlined in the article Marketing Tips for Hotels During the Coronavirus Outbreak published by Pegasus.
For all the latest news on the development of the current situation, please visit the following live blogs:
Upcoming webinars and online events for hotels
Webinar, 9th June | The recovery map for hotels by Phocuswire
Online Summit, 10th June | Travel's Path Forward by Skift
Webinar, 10th June | Technology Opportunities for Travel and Tourism in a Post-Viral World by WTM Travel Forward
Webinar, 10th June | The Road Out - unlocking the potential of the hotel sector by HVS, EP Hospitality and Bird & Bird
Webinar, 16th June | The Adoption of Hospitality Technology – The Solutions for the Decade by Institute of Hospitality
Online Event, 30th June | Skift Forum Europe