How Hotel, B&B and other guest accommodation businesses can rebuild after COVID-19?

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having a huge impact on guest accommodation sector and the leisure sector in general. The UK government has announced measures to mainly aimed as assisting businesses with fixed costs such as mortgages and business rates.

Hotels across the world are seeing huge cancellation rates and minimal if not non-existent occupancy rates. With the population of almost every country across the world now practising social distancing, the guest accommodation sector needs to be prepared for a lengthy period of significantly reduced trading and even closure.

This is a very fluid situation but the UK government is currently working on a period of three or four months of social distancing and we should expect a period of more enforced isolation, as we have seen in Italy, during the peak of the outbreak. Using this timescale it will realistically be July or August before the government stops advising the public to social distance. Of course, we all hope it will be much sooner than this.

How long will it take for the market to get back to normal?

Essentially no one actually knows the world has not seen a pandemic like COVID-19 in modern times. We can look at data from more localised situations such as SARS and Foot and Mouth but the scales of these are not really comparable. A more comparable situation would probably be the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001. This lead to a huge downturn, particularly in international tourism.

Looking at these cases it is realistic to estimate that we are looking at a lengthy recovery period stretching into 2021.

Surely after such a period of social distancing people are going to want to get out and travel?

Essentially yes, but there are going to be some limiting factors, essentially cost and fear.

Cost:

Lots of people are going to be working reduced hours or laid off either permanently or temporarily. This is not just going to affect the unskilled, low paid workforce this is going to be many skilled workers and professionals too. Many companies are going to have to have a period of recovery before they continue with any investment or expansion projects and rationalise their workforce during this time. Many people will simply not really be able to afford to take a holiday. Another factored to consider is a lot of business have been encouraging working from home and telephone conferencing rather than a physical meeting. This is essentially much more cost-effective than holding a physical meeting. This could affect the number of business customers staying at hotels as companies adopt this as a normal practice.

Fear:

The effect of fear of travelling is more difficult to judge as this encompasses many different elements. People may be more reluctant to take a plane or bus to travel, they may want to avoid crowded situations, be more cautious over hygiene. There will also be some element of fear in committing financially to a holiday or trip away.

When should you start preparing for the recovery?

Essentially now!

If you run a guest accommodation business you should be putting plans in place and making adjustments to your business now. Now is the time to be looking at your marketing, costs and processes of your business to ensure you can take advantage when the government stop advising people to self-isolating and we want to start encouraging people to travel again.

Now is going to be a perfect time to look at your website, booking engine, payment solutions and property management solutions. You may be able to make changes over the next few weeks/ months to change to a better or more cost-effective solution.

It will be important you start to consider your room rates, promotions, benefit, inclusions, policies as well as your overall marketing strategy going forward. Cancellation policies could be an important factor in the immediate months after business restarting.

I am here to help!

I understand that many businesses will be under severe financial pressures over the coming months. I have a wealth of experience in the leisure tourism and hospitality industry and I am available to assist businesses through this tough time. Whether it’s reviewing your marketing strategy, changing or reconfiguring your booking system or website, or any other type of digital support you need please do get in touch. Support packages will be tailored to the needs of individual businesses including maximising savings, monthly and differed payment options.

If you would like a free initial consultation without any obligations please do get in touch support@tim-potter.co.uk