Hospitality during and after COVID-19

By Steve Jarratt, Technology Writer

Hotels are opening their doors to accommodate medical professionals and key workers.

The global hospitality industry is understandably reeling from the effects of the outbreak of Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), with most governments ordering the closure of hotels and other lodgings. 

It will undoubtedly be a tough couple of months, but it hasn’t stopped individual hotels and hotel groups coming together to provide much-needed assistance in these uncertain times.

With most hotels empty, many owners have offered their properties as temporary accommodation for medical professionals and other 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.

Many chains and individual hotels in the UK have opened their doors. According to reports [1], Best Western, the largest independent hotel chain in the UK, is offering 15,000 beds and over 1,000 meeting rooms for frontline medical staff, key workers and families; Britannia Hotels has 600 beds available for patients needing care; InterContinental Hotels Group, owners of the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands, has already offered 300 rooms to allow rough sleepers in London to self-isolate [2]. Even Airbnb is waiving its fees for medical staff [3].

A new kind of hospitality

The same is happening around the world. In the US, Hilton and American Express have teamed up [4] to make one million hotel rooms available to doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals fighting the Coronavirus pandemic. While Choice Hotels announced it would be extending special [Choice Cares] hotel rates to critical infrastructure workers and volunteers serving communities during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. [5]

In an attempt to prevent an outbreak of the virus among its contingent of 60,000 homeless, Los Angeles officials are moving 15,000 of its most vulnerable people out of overcrowded shelters and into leased hotel rooms. The Los Angeles Times reported that ‘Project Roomkey’ could prevent 1,400 hospitalisation and 350 deaths [6]. Similar initiatives are taking place in San Francisco – which has a homeless population of around 9,000, but 30,000 empty hotel rooms – New York, Washington and Connecticut.

The hospitality industry has found a variety of ways to support the fight against Covid-19.

Hotels are rising to the challenge of battling Coronavirus by opening their doors to medical professionals and other key workers.

It’s not just traditional hotels that are rising to the challenge, either. Saga has offered the UK government the use of its two cruise ships, the Saga Sapphire and Spirit of Discovery, currently berthed at Tilbury Docks, with the potential to house 2,600 patients [7]. While in Singapore, the SuperStar Gemini and SuperStar Aquarius are being assessed as temporary housing for foreign workers who have recovered from the virus [8].

And Indie Campers, which hires out its fleet of 850 campervans across Europe, has proposed their use as makeshift ambulances and food delivery trucks [9].

Preparing for the post-pandemic

Despite the current upheaval, the COVID-19 pandemic will eventually pass, and demand for travel and accommodation will return. For hotels and apartments that aren't being used, this enforced hiatus provides a useful opportunity to take stock of business and to prepare a sustainable development model for the inevitable rebound. 

Hospitalitynet [10] offers some sound, practical advice to prepare for an 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.

Rather than planning for a short-term rebound, consider the long-term. Hotel websites can be updated and modernised, 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 can stay 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.

Discover how Brandstand can help hotels make a powerful difference.


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