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The hotel and lodging industry has been pulling together online resources to help each other and their communities during the coronavirus crisis.
Helping re-purpose beds for medical use may be the most obvious possible way to help. A new tech platform launched earlier this week can make the matchmaking process easier between lodging operators and local emergency efforts. Owners of a property can make beds or buildings available by using an online form to specify how they’re willing to help. Cloudbeds has worked with Sabre, Marriott, and RateGain and others on the effort.
Separate from that effort, CEO Rob Paterson of Best Western Hotels & Resorts Great Britain has been talking to the 260 independently owned and operated properties in the brand to see which might volunteer bed space to the UK’s National Health service.
Oyo Hotels & Homes said it would open the doors of its more than 300 hotels in the U.S. to offer free stays to doctors, nurses, and other medical first responders who are helping in the fight against coronavirus.
For other examples, see our recent story, “Some Asia Hotels Roll Out Quarantine Packages for Travelers Looking to Self-Isolate.”
But field hospitals aren’t the only possible use for hotels, motels, and hostels. Other examples include isolating high-risk populations and housing health professionals who are caring for victims and need to sleep away from their homes. The city of Philadelphia is renting out a Holiday Inn Express to house homeless people who test positive for the virus.
Online Resources for Operational Survival
The hospitality sector also has to heal itself from the wounds of travel bans and the economic crash. Here’s a roundup of some of the hotel and lodging sector resources of note:
Travel tech company RateGain has put together a “Better Tomorrow” resource page to help hoteliers with insights into lessons to learn from Asia. The page draws partly on resources from the trade group Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI), which has its own online resources, too.
Remote work is a new topic for many hotel leaders. Tech company Beekeeper has announced a webinar to help employers understand how to connect and communicate with their employees at a distance. Separately on the topic of remote work, Harvard Business Review has advice on how managers can handle remote workers.
Workers who have lost their jobs and are struggling with mental stress can turn to the U.S. site Restaurant After Hours for links to resources. In Canada, Service Hospitality, a non-profit association for workers, has created a Covid-19 resources page.
Travel management company BCD Travel has daily updates to its page What you need to know: Coronavirus and travel bans.
Ultimately, moral support can also help. InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has been running a Lights of Love campaign where properties are encourage to leave hotel lights on to signal hearts or a message of love during the crisis.
“Over-communication” with guests can help. One hotel in China shows guests live-streaming of rooms as housekeepers clean them so they can feel assured about the thoroughness of the process, as Colman Ho of Century City in Hong Kong noted.
Upbeat and useful social media messages can also help. Several industry leaders have been voluntarily supporting a campaign with the hashtag #dontcancelpostpone. The idea is that encouraging customers to accept vouchers for the future will help the industry preserve much-needed cash liquidity for their workers. On March 16, Italy’s hotel sector successfully won a regulatory change to let Italian hotels compensate guests who canceled their stay with a voucher, rather than with a full refund.
Outside of travel, Bain & Company has a CEO plan for coronavirus actions to take now, noted Frank Reeves, CEO of hotel tech startup Avvio. McKinsey has a coronavirus and business management resources page, as Nick Vivion of Ghost Works noted.