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How Corona 19 will change Hospitality Operations

Published: Jun 24th, 2020 11:17 pmBy Binu Kurien

I am sharing the article which I wrote in Linkedinn.

Like many, I am also perplexed how the Hospitality industry trajectory is going to be in 2020. Hospitality industry is badly affected. We all professionals are in uncertainty about what the next move should be that is going to reap the survival of this so called glamorous Industry. It may take time to get into normalcy and we should keep in mind that only essential traveling may only happen and not any leisure trips.

The market will be sensitive to two important things: first could be safety, clean and hygiene environment and second the pricing. A New World awaits for Hospitality operations as Hotel Sales and Marketing and all departments  have to work on value intensive packages, safety and hygiene factors. We have to rework our SOPS to meet the challenges.

My thoughts on this..

The Hospitality Industry revolves around human touch and we need to learn to do it without any actual contact between guests and staff. Social distancing has to be followed compulsorily. We should train all the staff to wear Masks and Gloves. The Cabs used for pick up and drop should be with hand sanitizer, hand wash etc. and it is the responsibility of the Chauffeur to maintain social distancing, proper hand washing, cleaning car door handles and seats often.Guests should not be allowed to enter the premises without proper hand hygiene. I recently read somewhere that some companies are working on tunnels where sanitation sprays can be used. There should be a facility as per medical practitioners’ words for conducting temperature checks. Once at the desk, the Front office should be doing a virtual check-in and check-out and we should compulsorily adopt the Namaste gesture and do away with the handshakes.

Here technology will have a major role to play with sharing of documents between the guests and the hotel before and after;during reservations and at the check-in etc. May be a guest mobile can be configured to use and open the Guest rooms. PMS has to do overhauling to see minimum paper work and the best example I could quote here is how we can send C- forms online to departments without carrying the books often. We have to promote card payments and avoid Cash . If cash handled it has to be quarantined.

Handling luggage is another situation where we can suggest the guests to carry with them at this stage. Luggage has to be disinfected too. We need to explore good chemicals to do so. Elevator rides could be limited to one guest per car. Room service to be minimized, and the hotel's restaurant, bar and coffee station may remain closed indefinitely or may remain active with proper social distancing. There shouldn’t laying of covers , all in request only.

“Four-seasons” has already started with packed meals (pre-boxed meals) to be kept in the Lobby refrigerator. We should not put all the amenities in the room; a minimum number and the rest on request can be done. We can avoid placing tea/ coffee / sugar sachets in the room, also minimum linen, less hangers. The minibar can be taken out to avoid spreading of germs.

The deep cleaning of the rooms can take place after the guests leave. The room has to be left vacant for a full 24 hours after a guest check-out. The House-keeping staff to be given proper quarantined equipment and asked to wear protective dresses. It will not be easy on the housekeepers and it will be a challenge to clean the furniture with sanitizers as it may cause some damage. There is a challenge in cleaning the mattresses and new ways have to be thought of for such. Does steaming work and be effective in combating the viruses?

Housekeeping definitely has a valid reason to allocate rooms by floors only and PMS should create a feature saying the limit of 24 hours to release it to the next customer. PMS should also carry medical history of previous guests or it should be made essential that the guest carry a medically-fit certificate from proper medical authorities to make sure the guest is free of Covid 19. Housekeeping has challenges in cleaning the TV remote and it would be an opportunity for IT companies to come up with something innovative to operate TVs with sound (IVR and chat boxes in the mobile apps). Curtains are another area of worry but it can be dealt with some novel idea from the cleaning or chemical companies. The companies which supply chemicals used in HK operations will also have their R&D Working to find easy and effective sanitation methods. This will also include Carpet Cleaning.

We are in an era where we have to unlearn and learn and that the focus beyond cleanliness is hygiene and sanitation for all the departments whether revenue generating or not. For all the supporting departments like HR / Training/ Kitchen stewarding/ the Hygiene Departments / Purchase and Receiving/ Security have a bigger role to play with Front office House keeping / Food and Beverage Service and Production and the Sales has to rework new strategies and Training of staff has to be daily routine for all and with management taking responsibility of attendance to Training requests which often in past were turned out by citing reasons for busy operation times and now with plenty of time and every one has to do the Walk the Talk and no guests would like to risk his life in this conditions. Hope this covid 19 season bring in lot of relaxations and some new ideas to improve and fasten the reopening process of Hotels from the government side.

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