Are You Ready to Reopen Your Doors for Travelers?
The coronavirus pandemic has severely affected the travel and tourism industry. The strict lockdowns forced thousands of travelers to cancel their vacation plans this year, paralyzing airlines and hoteliers. International tourism plunged by 65% in the first half of 2020 alone, compared with the same period in the previous year, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Such a massive drop in travel demand leads global airlines to lose around $84.3 billion this year alone, as predicted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Hotels, spas, and vacation resorts have also been badly hit. Several governments across the globe mandated the closure of recreational and non-essential establishments to curb the spread of the virus. In the U.S. alone, around 80% of hotel rooms were unoccupied during the peak of the pandemic in April. Even high-end areas like Manhattan, New York, have seen a growing number of hotel closures this year, most of them shutting down permanently. What’s worse is that experts argue that around 71% of hotels in the country may be forced to close in the next six months if the government fails to provide support.
On the bright side, though, a few countries have begun reopening their tourist spots to both domestic and international travelers. Famous destinations like Dubai, Maldives, Croatia, Jamaica, and Boracay Island in the Philippines have reopened their doors to tourists. Such a move also pushed some hoteliers to restart their operations, with the hopes of a steady recovery.
As the availability of a COVID-19 vaccine finally comes to light, travel and tourism are expected to rebound next year. If you’re a general manager or owner of a hotel, a beach resort, or of an Airbnb listing, here are some ways on how you can prepare to operate and accept guests once again in the new normal:
1. Communicate with your customers.
Take to social media and let the public know that you are reopening. Make sure to inform your customers about your updated policies as well as your health and safety protocols. Assuring your customers of their safety will entice them to consider booking your place for their next getaway.
2. Implement the right safety and health protocols.
Ensuring your guests’ health and safety as well as of your employees should be your utmost priority. Strictly adhere to the safety regulations required by the government for hotels and other recreational establishments. Ramp up your health and safety procedures by putting up sanitation stations around the property, regularly disinfecting common areas like the lobby, restrooms, and hotel restaurant, updating your floor plan to ensure social distancing, and providing appropriate protective equipment to staff.
You should also require your guests and employees to wear masks, undergo temperature checks, and sign a health declaration form before entering the premises. If you own an Airbnb listing, make sure to provide sanitation and disinfectant tools for the tenants to use. If you have an outdoor pool, seek professionals’ help to check for any damages or traces of toxic acids. Poolsmith Technologies offers such pool maintenance services.
3. Re-train your staff.
Prepare your employees for reopening by communicating your new safety protocols and conducting training ahead of time. You may opt to provide online modules or hold virtual sessions if most of your workers are still working from home or are being furloughed.
4. Create a contingency plan.
Despite several countries reopening, tourism, travel, and leisure among consumers are expected to remain low. Have a contingency plan ready in case hotel occupancy hits rock bottom again. Establish a revenue forecast for the coming months. Based on your estimates, determine which costs can be reduced and which part of your operations can remain open (such as your hotel café) when things turn out for the worst.
Recovering from a global pandemic doesn’t happen overnight. However, as more tourists are itching to travel soon, preparing your hotel, resort, or vacation house for the new normal can fuel long-term success and resilience against future emergencies.