COVID-19: A Guide for Hoteliers

Michael Smit
Michael Smit
March 12, 2020
hotel pool
News these days is all about COVID-19, the official name for the disease caused by the new coronavirus spreading across the world. The hotel industry is particularly affected anytime a new virus breaks out, so this article aims to collect useful information for hoteliers into one convenient place.

Keep an eye on the situation

As you adjust your budget, it’ll be important to watch where the virus is spreading and what sorts of travel restrictions are beginning or ending. But also be aware of how public perception factors in. When there’s a new virus in the headlines, people tend to cancel travel plans and stay home.

Here’s a brief list of useful sources to help you stay informed through the COVID-19 era:

Watch how governments respond ‌

government chambers

Some countries, like Malaysia, have already announced travel-boosting stimulus packs.  The Washington Post has reported that the White House is considering a tax relief plan for industries financially affected by COVID-19, such as the hospitality industry. ‌‌

The United States has already begun banning some international travel, but remember that travel bans aren’t the only sort of restriction going on. Many countries are also requiring people to do a 14 day self-quarantine if they’ve recently been to a high risk country. This self-quarantine comes with different restrictions in different areas, but the effect on travel is the same: people won’t visit a place if the only thing they’ll see is the inside of a hotel room.‌‌

Effects on the supply chain

van loading up supplies

Plan ahead to ensure you’re able to get the supplies you need. John Hopkins University noted the important role China plays in the global supply chain, and how that may result in a delay in supplies. They also noted that an important lesson here is diversifying your supply chain to avoid these kinds of delays in the future. ‌‌

While it’s possible you may experience delays in some supplies, WHO reports that supplies you get should be safe to use. They say that the virus can survive on a surface anywhere from mere hours to several days, but it’s unlikely to survive the transportation process. ‌‌

That being said, if you suspect an item to be contaminated, they do recommend disinfecting it (see the second tweet in the thread below).

Have a plan, and review it

The last thing you want right now is to find out you have a sick guest, and at the same time find out that you have no plan for the situation. If you already have plans in place to handle medical emergencies like this, then review that plan with your staff. If you don’t have a plan, make one.

The New Zealand Ministry of Health has published a COVID-19 guide specifically for hotels. The only thing you’ll have to change is—of course—the listed emergency number. In short, you and your staff should know how to handle, with minimal contact, guests who have been to high-risk countries and need to go through self-quarantine. You also need to know how to isolate guests who become sick, and know which authorities to alert.

The CDC has a list of advice for household’s getting ready for COVID-19, but much of the advice is relevant to hotels as well.

Finally, put extra effort into keeping your hotel clean. Instruct staff to regularly clean and disinfect regularly used items and surfaces. Provide hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol throughout your hotel. Keep your hotel clean, and make it clear to guests that you’re going above and beyond. The virus is already on everyone’s mind, so seeing the extra effort will put your guests minds’ at ease.

Road to recovery‌‌

moving forward on a road

Travel is going to be low for a while, but it will recover. First, COVID-19 infection rates will decline. Then travel restrictions will loosen. But the final step to recovery will be when the stigma fades so that the general population feels comfortable traveling and holding events again.‌‌

While past viruses indicate that recovery could take as long as a year, every case is different. Bloomberg reports that travel is already beginning to rebound in China, so once it’s safe hopefully folks will want to make up for all those plans they had to delay.

hotel front desk staff on the phone

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