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RM HUB's Back to Business Tips

By Bruno Azevedo, RM HUB's Consultant and Trainer


In the media, potential dates for reopening the business are beginning to emerge. Thus, it is necessary to be prepared and start drawing up plans for each department of the hotel, based on available information and possible actions to be developed by each business. As leaders, we are called to make decisions. The crisis generated by COVID-19 is an amorphous enemy that requires a personal assessment of how we do everything. I believe that from now on, one of the principles that will be the basis of our performance will be something within the idea that “our entire management model is open to change”.
It's safe to say that most hoteliers know that life will not return to February 2020 at the touch of a button. The reopening of hotels will likely be gradual, and will certainly include many restrictions and definitions of individual space. The faster the response and the more critical thinking used, the better the result. I want to leave here a list of ideas to be implemented, never forgetting that everything depends on the specifics of each business. Remember that the quarantine process is dynamic and changes frequently. The important thing is to start a work plan now.

Operational Departments
• Create a differentiated online communication tool - different services such as Slack, Skype for Business or any other that adapts to reality and start meetings with all departments right away;
• Think of alternative service offering ideas - Accor has recently created a “day use” package for those who need a private workspace;
• Contact disinfection companies for large spaces, this measure may eventually be required at each reopening;
• Create procedures to guarantee the social distance of employees - it is convenient to resize the changing rooms and the dining area;
• Strengthen occupational medicine offerings, including virus screening tests;
• In the common areas, prepare various plans for the redistribution of furniture and decorative pieces to comply with the norms of social distancing;
• Update your emergency management plan to include new threats;
• Change the SOP's to include the new reality;
• Design a new operations checklist for directors - include more frequent passes into previously less guarded areas such as parking, ensuring there are no opportunities for contamination.

Front Office and Reservations
• Idealize the possibility of electronic check-in prior to arrival;
• In anticipation of occupancy restrictions, change rooms in PMS to “Out of Service COVID-19” - these rooms will be treated differently compared to regular rooms;
• Decide which rooms are most suitable to be placed out of service in order to ensure social distance and limit the use of elevators;
• Contact the amenities provider to discuss the possibility of offering one kit per room with mask, disinfectant gel and gloves;
• Possibility of creating an internal helpline working 24 hours a day, according to a medical clinic, for use by guests;
• It may be advisable to monitor the body temperature of each guest entering the hotel - a specific SOP should be created where and under what circumstances it should be done and monitor its correct implementation;
• Thinking about the possibility of creating a COVID-19 Declaration to be signed at check-in, in which customers confirm that they have not met anyone who had symptoms of the disease;
• Think about the possibility of creating an informative statement of COVID-19 to be read in the telephone service and posted on the company's website with the option of “I Agree” by the customer;
• Arrange a contactless solution at the company that provides the payment solution - avoid repeated contacts on the equipment.

F&B and Restaurant
• Devise new procedures for receiving goods - a place where contamination can easily enter;
• Contact suppliers and discuss active forms of cooperation;
• Redo the restaurant plan to ensure a minimum of 2 meters between tables;
• Idealize a uniform where a possible protection will be included;
• Check the list of chemicals used in kitchen and restaurant cleaning and check their effectiveness against the virus;
• Think about the pair level of employees and reduce the team to adapt to the new workload;
• Review contracts with suppliers (rappel, quantity discount) and plan according to the hotel's interests;
• Change the kitchen layout (if possible) to gain space;
• Make a smaller reopening menu to limit the number of cooks on each shift;
• Design a balanced menu between the bestsellers and the highest margin products;
• Devise a breakfast served individually, as opposed to a buffet that poses greater risks of contagion;
• Delimit maximum occupancy and service hours of outlets.

Finances and Revenue Management
• Add a new row for “Out of Service COVID-19” for Performance, Forecast and Yield reports - this will allow for better annual comparisons of results for this year and the next;
• Find alternative years for the Performance report, maybe 2009 - all Forecast reports will be negative this year and positive next year, so it is necessary to put the number in another context;
• If there are limitations on occupancy, it may be full occupancy each night. Thus, alternative metrics should be found to test the strength of the market, try to gather information from the POS or CRM to analyze and control some KPI's, such as the average expense per customer for all spaces during the year;
• Review the promotions policy to better adapt to this new reality.

Marketing and Sales
• Change the sales funnel and customer journey to include the new restrictions;
• Communicate initiatives to reinforce the customer's sense of trust;
• Write an email with the list of precautions the hotel is taking;
• All website pages will need a pop-up with information about the virus and new conditions;
• Create a list with the “best customers” and send each one personalized messages;
• Redesign the meeting room to adapt to the new social distance and make the new plans available online.

Spa and Infrastructure
• Develop and publish a limited menu of spa services;
• Create a new distribution plan to maintain social distance;
• Create new baggage handling procedures - will you allow luggage carriers to enter guest rooms?
• Will it be necessary to disinfect cars after they are parked? Determine procedures for cleaning and parking.

Organizing the hotel's new structure is essential to promote short-term actions that minimize the impact of the new normal. Constantly adapting to the context will be crucial to the survival of the business.