There is probably no industry across the world that hasn’t been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic – but there can’t be many that have suffered more than the travel industry. With many countries virtually closing their borders and advising against all but essential travel, there is a whole worldwide industry that has effectively been shut down for almost half a year.
As it is now the case that many countries are taking steps outside of lockdown, and things are beginning to return to a sense of normality, there is hope for the travel industry that business, as usual, can resume (as much as possible). But businesses in the industry, including many hotels, will have to make drastic changes to the way they operate if they want to survive in the post-Covid-19 era.
So, what can the hotel industry do to ensure that properties are safe for guests while running their business in an optimal way? Here we take a look at how the hotel industry has responded to the virus, and what things will need to change in hotels across the world moving forward.
A focus on cleaning and sanitisation
Of course, high-quality cleaning has always been an important part of the service provided by any respectable hotel or accommodation. But Covid-19 has placed an emphasis on cleaning like never before, and it is absolutely vital that hotels not only properly clean and sanitise everything – but also that they provide essentials such as hand sanitiser throughout the premies.
Thankfully many forms of accommodation about beginning to take this very seriously and put the right provisions in place.
“We have always provided anti-bacterial hand wash in our bathrooms,” said the owners of Riad el Zohar, traditional Moroccan accommodation in Marrakech “but in light of the global pandemic we will also be providing surgical hand gel in each bedroom and entrance hall, plus face masks for each guest”.
More hands-free and electronic measures
One of the most important ways that hotels are looking to change up the way they run is by utilising electronic gadgets and measures. For example, while it is only a relatively recent innovation that hotels have moved away from keys – often to keycards or fobs. But now it looks as though hotels will be increasingly encouraging guests to make use of electronic keys to open doors – often through mobile phone apps.
Some brands, such as Hilton, already have well-known app systems that allow them to offer electronic concierge. This certainly looks like something that is set to become far more common due to Covid-19. It may be the case that guests will be able to check-in electronically without having to speak directly to a member of staff.
The same goes for check-out. In fact, it may be the case that interaction with staff will be limited enormously. These technological solutions can avoid guests having to speak at close range with staff.
There are many aspects of the hotel industry that do not lend themselves the post-Covid-19 era in their original state; we’ve already mentioned keys and concierge. But perhaps nothing is more problematic than the serving of food. The buffet breakfast is a staple utilised by a huge number of hotels across the world – but it may not a possibility, at least for the foreseeable future.
Managing self-service stations and the handling of ladles and spoons are a huge problem for the coronavirus – so it looks like hotels may have to revert to table service or grab-and-go options.
Indeed, other popular aspects of hotel food and drink such as in-room minibars and room service brought into your room may become a thing of the past. It will be up to hotels to come up with creative solutions to satisfy guest’s cravings, but a greater level of room service would seem to be a direction many hotels are considering.
Hotels may well look very different due to COVID-19. The travel industry will need to make changes, but there will still be an appetite for travel, and so it is up to hotels to do what they can to allow things to be as normal as possible, while minimising the risks associated with Covid-19.