Given the expected new legal requirements and hygiene regulations for the travel and tourism industry, hotels will need to develop new operational solutions to position themselves optimally for a restart.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic crisis set in, the Indian Tourism and Hospitality industry had emerged as one of the key drivers of growth among all the service sectors in India. Tourism in India has generated immense employment opportunities and is a vital source for foreign exchange earnings for the country.
Opportunities in Hospitality Sector ranges from Chef to all hotel personals, Air hostess and many ancillary industries, besides Hotel employment, opportunities also exist in Cruise lines, Airline Catering and Cabin service, Food Production, Bakery and Multiplexes, Health and Wellness, Institutional and Industrial Catering, Retail sector, Event Management, Tour Operators, Travel Agencies, Government sectors like Army, Air-Force and Navy, Railways sectors to name a few. Students are nurtured for life and groomed to face the challenges of tomorrow, and to be socially relevant.
The hotel industry has experienced a seismic shift and will look very different as the threat of COVID-19 subsides and guests begin to return – the hotel industry will reshape how it operates. Hoteliers will need to strategize on how to address the new demands for contactless and social distancing-compatible services, meet guest needs and still ensure a steady flow of revenue.
The solution to this dilemma can be found in the place that many changes are already being made to enhance cleanliness and guest safety: in the guestroom itself.
Hoteliers are now beginning to recognise that solutions such as minibars provide an ideal means of addressing the lesser use of restaurants and bars by guests, and are increasingly becoming open to exploring new minibar product options as a way of maintaining safe guest social distancing abilities while still generating revenue. This can include partnering with minibar operators and product vendors to implement fresh product options that would otherwise have been sought by guests at a hotel restaurant, cafeteria or at some offsite location.
Properties could offer pre-made meal options that a guest can purchase via a hotel's website at the time of booking and that could be brought up and stored in the guest room minibar prior to arrival. This ability can even extend to making popular items such as cocktails available for order online by providing guests with an easily accessible menu of options. By providing these updated service alternatives, hotels can demonstrate their commitment to cleanliness, while still ensuring that guests have everything that they need to experience an enjoyable stay.
More recent advances in minibar technology have provided hoteliers with even greater flexibility in making products available for in-room purchase that go beyond refrigerated items or even food and beverages. With guests likely to avoid onsite or offsite retail outlets as they would restaurants and bars, such items can include electronics, toiletries, hand sanitizers, gloves or face masks.
In addressing each of these crucial factors with the use of minibars as a core element of their reopening strategy, hotels can be confident in their ability to resume operations successfully and in a way that restores guest trust and satisfaction in the months and years to come.
In addition to promoting new public health measures, airlines and hotels will turn to their loyalty programs to win back business travellers and their most frequent customers. There will be bonuses for travel and there will probably be promotions to earn elite status, such as double qualifying miles, status-match offers.
From repurposing a property to adapting new strategies and approaches to secure a strong come-back for your hotel assets once the industry restarts, a multitude of things have to be considered from operational changes to strict hygiene measures. Possibly other new benefits like available middle-seat blocking.
Given the expected new legal requirements and hygiene regulations for the travel and tourism industry, hotels will need to develop new operational solutions to position themselves optimally for a restart. Our team of experienced consultants have compiled a list of critical considerations to prepare a hotel for operation in the post Covid-19 hospitality era:
In compliance with new hygiene expectations and regulations, one will need to review the property's cleaning and sanitation processes, including the use of UV lights and special medical-grade cleaning materials approved for hotels.
Reconsider the use of specific fabrics, furniture, fixtures and amenities in the guest rooms including items such as loose carpets, remote controls, minibars and light switches to ensure a hygienic environment for both staff and guests.
It is important to optimise the flow of fresh and recycled air throughout the property's air-conditioning system to avoid the spread of viruses that are potentially airborne.
With digital and contactless services becoming the norm, ensure hotel's readiness for the digitisation of core operational processes such as check-in and check-out and the use of mobile room keys.
Analyse property's operational workflows and study staff and guest movement to optimise space and occupation levels to ensure adherence to social distancing guidelines, which are likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future.
Re-engineer laundry and linen operations as well as garbage disposal protocols and consider the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff and the implementation of sealable laundry and garbage bags.
Assess and validate hotel's current business model and operating concept and assess the possible re-use or repurposing options within the property including alternative rental and lease models for specific space.
To secure a successful restart, now is the time to plan for operational optimisation, to validate property's business model and to adjust the operating concept for long-term value creation potential, as well as assess the possible re-use or repurposing of hotels, or parts of them.
The writer is associated with NIPS Hospitality Group as Deputy Director, from the last 25 years. He has over four decades of rich experience in the hospitality industry. Celebrity Chef awarded “The Best Chef of the Year”, 2015, 2017 and 2019. Prior to this, he was associated with Hotel Hindustan International, Kolkata as an Executive Sous Chef and Royal Navy Oman as an Executive Chef for 16 years. Record holder “Limca Book of Record (2 Times)”, “India Book of Records” & “Asia Book of Records”. Awarded Certificate from Record Holders Republic, Registry of Official World Records. Conducted as one of the Zonal Leading Judges to the Kolkata audition for the “Star plus Master Chef India”, of Season 2, 3 & Season 4. Awarded Certificate from The Special Additional Commissioner of Police, Kolkata, for conducting a Workshop on Food Production & Patisserie for the Officers of Kolkata Police. Awarded Certificate from Colonel Eldoso Paul, SM Commanding Officer from Conducting “Train the Trainee Workshop on Bakery & Confectionery" for Army Cantonment staff - Station Bakery.
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