Although the cumulative impact of COVID-19 has already set in motion a profound shift in hotel business strategy, some fundamental goals will not change. As a hospitality professional, you understand the importance of protecting your business and continuing to cultivate the potential for success.
Maximizing the value and health of your hotel’s infrastructure will be essential in facilitating any short and long-term planning. In protecting your building assets, formulate a crisis plan – a set of guidelines used to prepare a business for an emergency or unexpected event – to zero-in on the best practices for your hotel’s current, ongoing, and future state of business. Inform your guidelines with the 3Cs – concern, control, and commitment.
1. CONCERN (now)
History shows that building conditions can play a critical role in the spread of disease. But if buildings can make things worse, they can also make things better. During a time of crisis, it’s important to go beyond your hotel’s standard maintenance plan. By addressing immediate safety-related concerns, you can lessen the impact on your infrastructure, while reducing health risks to your hotel, staff, and guests.
- Ventilation: Biological contaminants can breed in stagnant water that has accumulated in humidifiers, drainpipes, and ducts, or where water has collected on ceiling tiles, insulation, carpets, and upholstery. Therefore, your hotel should consider evaluating and improving the engineering controls using the building ventilation system. Proper ventilation quality should be prioritized to reduce the spread of bacteria and the negative effects these have for people with asthma or other respiratory problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends increasing ventilation rates and the percentage of outdoor air that circulates into the system.
- Filters: New research from Financial Times found that when filtration rates were increased above industry minimums, there was a 50% reduction in the relative risk of viral transmission. Additionally, cheaper filters trap less than 20% of airborne virus-sized particles, while a higher-rated filter can trap closer to 80%. Portable air purifiers with high-efficiency particulate filters can also be effective in mitigating viral transmission at your property.
- Sanitation Technology: Adjusting cleaning protocols to meet the difficulties of the current situation is a new imperative. Utilize sanitation technology such as germ-zapping robots or a disinfecting fogger. Environmentally friendly and hypoallergenic, the foggers disperse small disinfectant droplets, which treat surfaces — such as floors, handrails and doorknobs — and large areas in a short time frame, allowing re-use 30 minutes after treatment.
2. CONTROL (ongoing)
Your hotel should begin to focus on performing more proactive maintenance to protect your assets and prepare to meet new pending requirements. Even with limited resources and minimal team operations, there are many tasks that require timely attention. After all, a strong guest experience can’t happen without clearly defined cleanliness, security, and operational procedures.
- Cleanliness: There is nothing more top of mind to guests at the moment than safety, security, and cleanliness. Hotels that have specific policies and procedures in place and effectively communicate them to guests will be activating a very powerful factor in the new booking cycle and secure more brand equity than ever before.
- Inspections: Hotels should expect to see new legislation when it comes to health inspections. This should magnify the importance of the condition of your property. Consider conducting a self-audit and addressing what you find now.
- Operating Procedures: Use this time as an opportunity to create a new set of standard operating procedures around cleaning tasks, routine maintenance, and inspections. This applies to the hotel’s entire organization, from public areas and amenity outlets to guestrooms and back of house.
- Cost Savings: Check lighting systems and water usage and adjust your energy management system to maximize cost savings when guests are not present. Also, use the time to catch up with critical asset preventative maintenance tasks that may have otherwise been backlogged or seasonal.
3. COMMITMENT (future)
On the path to recovery, resilience and adaptability are key to success. Navigating through disrupted workflows and staff shortages is hard enough without having to worry about documenting each task manually. Hotels that standardize and automate their maintenance will lower their operating costs and extend the life of their assets.
Fortunately, a service optimization tool can help your hotel to stay on track by automating preventative maintenance schedules, organizing essential inspections, implementing checklists, and dispatching proactive work orders in real-time. The data provided by this software is also particularly helpful during a downturn to minimize capital expenditures, while enterprise reporting can positively impact valuation during due diligence.
When communicating with guests, be sure to share the proactive and enhanced preventative maintenance measures your hotel is taking. Promoting healthy hygiene practices in light of COVID-19 will not only put your guests at ease and gain their trust, but likely become the number one most influential factor in the hotel booking cycle for the foreseeable future.
For more hotel best practices, visit our dedicated Crisis Management Library full of educational content to help you manage the present and prepare for the future.