By Mr. Rajneesh Malhotra, VP – Operations and Asset Management
The hospitality industry has displayed great resilience and optimism to overcome the unprecedented challenges brought by the COVID-19 outbreak. Although the industry was adversely impacted by the imposition of the lockdown and travel restrictions since March, hotel establishments are now prepared to once again host their guests by transforming the hospitality landscape to meet with the ever-changing consumer trends and expectations. As the governments gradually lift travel restrictions across the country, hoteliers are focusing on agile and proactive solutions to adapt to the ‘new normal’.
Evolving guest preferences will have a significant impact on hotel operations. According to the recent surveys by Thomas Cook and SOTC, health and safety were reported as primary concerns for 75% of travelers while 35% were willing to pay more to ensure the same. In the new world order, consciousness about health, safety, and well-being will continue to remain high and for us, this means acclimatizing to changes on multiple fronts. It is imperative for the industry to incorporate immaculate hygiene standards to reassure their guests as well as employees.
At Chalet Hotels, our objective is to reboot, reinvent, and align our services with the changing guest needs & the new business environment. Our key strategy is to be cognizant of the changing customer experiences and addressing their concerns. A wider vision on the path to recovery through cost optimized operations method can be explored through these efforts:
After a long slumber, as hotels are gradually reopening with relaxed regulations, the new normal offers a wide array of opportunities for the sector. The industry is embracing this change and proactively reconfiguring businesses for a strong comeback and restore a level of normalcy. Hotels are investing in enhancing their preparedness through advanced technological solutions, refined skill-set, and a safety focused approach for meeting with the current needs of consumers.. As our staff continues to operate at minimum capacity, we also need to ensure that the guests are abiding by the safety guidelines. Implementing workplace protocols to enhance hotel hygiene will play a crucial role in the new normal. Multiple hotel chains have significantly invested in collaterals to communicate with their guests at every touch point right from arrival, to dining, to even the rooms. Hoteliers are also mandating digital display screens across the hotel premises to ensure that visitors are adhering to the safety and social distancing guidelines. At Chalet Hotels, we have implemented robust measures with globally approved safety standards so that our guests are confident to stay with us
Simultaneously, it is essential to Reinvent and Rethink:
While hoteliers are resuming operations with enhanced safety measures and stringent protocols, they have also reimagined their strategies highlighting the essentials for the future of hospitality in the new normal. The pandemic has prompted notable transformation in hotel operations, design and technology, and hoteliers, while also making it inevitable for businesses to eliminate some traditional practices. Companies and businesses having a clear vision to serve their guests with exceptional hospitality experience, along with a committed team and the courage to face up to adversity are viewing this change in a positive manner. We have channeled our efforts to provide a memorable experience to our guests with robust hospitality CRM. Reinventing business to devise an optimized and sustainable operational strategy with new revenue streams will be key to business. Hoteliers have been pushed to get creative and incorporate digital solutions to augment the overall hotel experience along with contactless communications at every touch point. Complementing technology with traditional hospitality tools to provide sustainable and environmentally responsible amenities will positively support hotels develop a strong and distinguished impact amongst their customers.
The lockdown phase enabled hotel businesses to cross-train people on different jobs to equip them with tech-savviness and analytic decision making. The aim is to help employees to carry out operations swiftly and efficiently. To enable this, organizations are utilizing mobile apps and making notable investment for applications of IoT in guestrooms as well as across the hotel, and are using technology to manage and streamline logistics and employees. Investment in technology supports mobilizing the organization and also enables in mapping employee productivity/performance.
As restrictions relax and business resume to a staggered normal, guests will expect hotels to deploy digital tools to enable contactless options. It is crucial to respond to their demand for a digitized and seamless guest experience with minimal human contact. For instance, contactless payments will become the norm as people are careful about whom they come into physical contact with. Additionally, services like valet-parking and bell desk may shift towards self-service. The ‘touchless hospitality’ is one such change which we can see. We are adopting changes which will provide both assurance and delight to the guests. All outlets that are open in the hotels now feature digital menus that are accessible via QR Codes placed on tables which enables the guests to go through our elaborate and well planned menus, doing away with any contact with physical menus. Digital payment solutions as an offering has always been there across our outlets and has been revived as a practice now more than ever.
On the whole, consumers are bound to have greater dependency on their mobile phones as everything right from passports to boarding passes and keyless hotel entry will be facilitated through this. To continue staying ahead of the guests’ evolving patterns, brands need to be agile and continue transforming. In the post pandemic scenario, it will be important for hotel chains to embrace digitization as a means to offer value-added services and experiences to customers. It will become absolutely vital to align revenue and marketing strategy for optimal outcomes.