Managing hotel operations and forecasts during a global crisis
Crisis management during disruptive global events can take various forms, one of them being travel restrictions put in place by governments, industry organizations, and private businesses who implement the precautions necessary to keep people safe. Hospitality organizations have to be ready to adapt.
What are the most important areas on which to focus efforts to make that plan a practical one? How do hotel organizations maintain great service and good will? How do hotels account for how these kinds of events affect revenue management and strategy essentials, like accurate forecasting? Let’s take a look.
Taking care of hotel guests and staff during a global crisis
Seeing to the needs of guests and of hotel staff as events unfold and having a plan that’s easily implemented will help to create an atmosphere of calm. The underlying message in all communications should be focused on the welfare of all persons in hotel locations, staff and guests alike. When hotels can communicate a sense of calm and order, it helps to diffuse tension and build trust.
In the case of a pandemic like the COVID-19 virus, this means looking to the practical things that help to ensure that guests are aware of the measures the location is taking to help ensure their health and safety. Posting easily visible signs to hand-washing stations for guests and staff, and other small but important adjustments to operations help to communicate that the hotel is taking necessary precautions. This is a long-term approach to securing future goodwill; by being a force in the lives of guests that helps them reduce anxiety around the events in which they find themselves while at hotel locations.
The importance of flexibility
Adaptability and flexibility on an operational level are paramount to success during a crisis. Depending on the locations involved, this can mean turning off the heat and lights in certain parts of the property as cost-saving measures. On a marketing front, adjusting or in some cases discontinuing paid digital marketing spend to account for current demand troughs could also be a way to effectively manage spend during a period of uncertain demand.
When booking times become affected, offering alternate dates to prospects and guests in conjunction with news about relevant factors that are driving the disruption industry-wide can help to inform what bookings will look like after the period of disruption begins to decline. Even when cancellations become necessary, refunds without any hassle or easy postponement policies for the guest can encourage long-term gains in the light of any short-term losses. Relaxing restrictions and being flexible can increase goodwill with prospects and guests. Managing good communications and enacting policy decisions based on empathy have value of their own.
Honing revenue management and forecasting
Even if crises are temporary, they can have long-term effects on hotel revenue management and the long-term effects of the hotel’s revenue strategy. Where taking care of guests and staff is the first priority, planning on how to account for a crisis in a forecasting model is going to be important after disruption is over. A comparison using an RM solution between current bookings to those recorded a year ago can be very useful to gauging a more accurate picture of how expected levels of demand will likely be affected by disruptive factors. Monitoring these events as they affect direct competitors and the industry as a whole is prudent, too. Use this data as a basis for a more accurate comparison to put the current state around demand into important perspective. This will help to serve as a guide for future reporting.
Whatever revenue management tool is in use, a crisis period should be properly accounted for in reporting so that it can be referred to later. Where possible, this includes the number of days that business was affected, and at which point demand began to return to levels comparable to the previous year. This helps to lend vital perspective and best illustrates the impact of a crisis so as not to skew forecasting models and further disrupt business and strategy activities going forward. And remember, too; focusing on business data to drive strategy in a time of crisis is the best way to rise above current circumstances and to concentrate on areas within one’s control.
Following a business change assessment cycle for adjusting, analyzing, and evaluating impact is recommended during a period of uncertain demand. Technology that enables mobile – checking in and out, use as room key, and for communications and operations, too – is a big part of staying connected to guests and staff which serves circumstances now, and points the way to making things more open and fluid in the future, too. In the meantime, the most important thing is to take care of guests and staff and put supports in place in locations and on an operational level that helps to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of everyone at the location.
There are plenty of resources out there right now to help hoteliers make sense of this crisis and the disruption it’s causing. For more advice and insight on how to manage hotel operations and revenue strategy during the current COVID-19 crisis, check out this article on some of the most recent approaches from Hotel Online:
To learn more about what Infor is doing to help our customers in the light of COVID-19, You can visit this page for details:
Note: this post has been edited since its publication date.