The hotel industry during and after COVID

By Steve Jarratt, Technology Writer
The hotel industry has adapted to Covid-19 with new safety measures - Brandstand

The global hospitality industry is still reeling from the effects of Coronavirus, with the majority of hotels and restaurants forced to close during government-enforced lockdowns and 2020 passenger airline traffic sinking by 60.1% to 368 million - a yearly low comparable to 1984’s 351.6 million. [1]


Since then, however, many hotels have been able to reopen. As of February, 97% of Hilton’s hotels were operational [2], while in a 2021 earnings call, Hyatt Hotels reported that “as of December 31, 94% of our hotels or 93% of our rooms were open.” [3] The problem that now challenges the hospitality industry isn’t one of room ‘availability’, it’s one of room ‘accessibility’. Travel bans, closed borders and mandatory quarantines are hampering a speedier recovery.


As a consequence, Wall Street analysts have cut their key revenue measure for hotel operators by 5%-10% this year [4] and a full recovery isn’t expected until well into 2023, and possibly not until 2024. But that’s not to say that the hotel industry hasn’t been busy in other positive ways, from supporting frontline healthcare workers to acting as vaccine administration sites.

A new kind of hospitality

With an excess of empty rooms, many hotels and hotel groups have banded together to provide assistance to frontline medical professionals and key workers, as well as vulnerable families and the homeless. Some have even been converted into care rooms to ease the pressure on overstretched hospitals.

In the US, Hilton and American Express teamed up [5] to make one million hotel rooms available to doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. While Choice Hotels extended its special ‘Choice Cares’ hotel rates to key workers during the crisis. [6]

Hotels have gone to great lengths to ensure cleanliness and safety during Covid-19 - Brandstand

During Covid-19, PPE was given to all hotel staff members to ensure their safety and to protect guests.

In an attempt to help its contingent of 150,000 homeless, California policy makers created Project Roomkey in 2020, with the intention of providing hotel rooms for those who have been infected, the old, and people with underlying health conditions. To date, the project has provided temporary accommodation for more than 22,000 people, almost a third of people suffering from chronic homelessness. [7] The project is ongoing and similar initiatives have followed in other states and cities across America.

Turning hotels into vaccination centers

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) joined in with its ‘Hospitality for Hope’ initiative, aimed at helping frontline workers and first responders. To date, more than 20,000 hotels have signed up to the cause, providing in excess of 2.3 million rooms in close proximity to healthcare facilities. [8] But this isn’t the only way that Hospitality for Hope and its network of hotels can help.

Now, with infection rates past their peak, the AHLA has offered its hotel properties to the Biden administration [9] as vaccine administration sites. The Association states that hotels are perfectly suited to the task, with around 50,000 hotels in every state that are situated close to transportation hubs and with ample parking. They already have stringent cleaning protocols in place, as well as access to the necessary refrigeration systems. 

Wake up to the CubieTime charging alarm clock - Brandstand


Elsewhere, hotels are also acting as official quarantine locations in countries such as the UK, Thailand, Canada and Australia. In the UK, the government has partnered with 16 hotels to provide 4,963 rooms for travelers arriving from ‘red list’ countries. A further 58,000 rooms are reportedly on standby.

Preparing for the post-pandemic

Despite the current upheaval (the US hit one billion unsold room nights for the first time ever [10]), there is the hope that the pandemic is beginning to ease. Demand for travel and accommodation is gradually increasing, and the effects should start to be felt in the second half of the year as stringent lockdown measures loosen. 

Hospitality.net offers some sound, practical advice for hotels preparing for this upswing in business, which involves keeping in touch with past guests via CRM; recapturing any cancelled bookings; rewarding loyal customers with exclusive packages; and developing a strategic marketing plan that ramps up as travel restrictions begin to ease. [11]

And rather than planning for a short-term rebound, hotels should consider the long-term. Hotel websites can be refreshed and modernized, while cancellation policies can be updated so that they are clear and flexible. Downtime can also be used for renovations and refurbishment, upgrading rooms or adding in-room technology to improve the guest experience and make your hotel stand out. 

Those hospitality companies that remain solvent during these tough times need to be ready to reap any benefits, and to differentiate themselves when the Coronavirus crisis finally draws to a close.

Brandstand proudly supports the hotel industry with innovative power and charging products.

 

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References:

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelgoldstein/2021/02/18/dont-bring-back-the-80s-2020-airline--traffic-drops-to-1984-levels/ 
[2] https://thepointsguy.com/news/all-hilton-properties-reopen-by-midyear/
[3] https://www.fool.com/earnings/call-transcripts/2021/02/18/hyatt-hotels-corp-h-q4-2020-earnings-call-transcri/
[4] https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-hotels-results/preview-us-hotels-check-into-2021-with-covid-booking-slide-idUSL4N2KB48Z
[5] https://www.travelandleisure.com/hotels-resorts/hilton-and-american-express-team-up-to-donate-1-million-rooms-to-coronavirus-first-responders
[6] https://www.choicehotels.com/support/choice-cares
[7] https://www.ppic.org/blog/what-lessons-can-be-learned-from-project-roomkey/
[8] https://www.fcsi.org/foodservice-consultant/the-americas/hospitality-hope-offers-hotels-vaccine-sites/
[9] https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/534234-hotels-offer-properties-as-vaccine-administration-sites-to-biden-team
[10] https://www.npr.org/2021/01/27/960384171/2020-was-the-worst-year-ever-for-u-s-hotels-heres-whats-next?t=1613392762549
[11] https://www.hospitalitynet.org/opinion/4098228.html