Clearly, we never want to experience a pandemic like this again.
But there’s no escaping the fact it could happen again. And, with that in mind, it’s vital hotels keep in their locker a plan for what to do if a similar virus strikes.
In today’s blog, we’re going to focus more specifically on internal processes, procedures and guest care during an epidemic or pandemic.
However, regardless of the severity of the virus outbreak, there will likely be some form of financial impact on your business. Whether it’s full closure or a significantly reduced footfall and multiple cancellations, you’ll need to ensure your hotel can weather the storm.
During COVID-19 (which is still impacting much of the world at the time of writing), we’ve learned one thing when it comes to the economy: most governments will step in when things get really bad.
Opinions on how impactful these stimulus efforts are vary wildly, but it’s hard to argue against the fact that there is an awful lot of money being made available.
Let’s look at what the UK and US have done so far.
- £330 billion made available in guaranteed loans to support businesses
- interest rates lowered to 0.5%
- VAT payments deferred
- cash grants made available to small businesses
- grants offered to help companies pay up to 80% of worker salaries
- $1.5 trillion of liquidity made available to stabilise money markets
- interest rates cut to maximum of 0.25% and a minimum of 0%
- a range of quantitive easing strategies
- launched Paycheck Protection Program to support small businesses
If this happens again, the above stimulus packages are of course not guaranteed, but it’s highly likely there will be similar support made available.
The moral of the story? Always look to your local government first for financial support if things get really bad.
How to protect hotel guests and staff during a virus outbreak
There have been some incredibly inspiring examples of how hoteliers reacted quickly during the early days of COVID-19.
Before the shutdowns commenced, a clear modus operandi was beginning to form which could act as a blueprint for future instances.
Here’s the pick of the strategies.
Use government approved disinfectant products where possible
During the initial stage of the coronavirus outbreak, the US government began listing disinfectant products that had been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The UK government issued similar guidance for how to clean non-healthcare settings such as hotels.
Following the guidelines from your government when it comes to cleaning products will always be a good strategy during future epidemics or pandemics.
Pay close attention to laundry
Viruses can also spread via laundry, therefore it’s important to ensure you remove any contamination as thoroughly as possible.
Aside from washing bedspreads and scarfs more frequently, it’s recommended that you add disinfectant (see above) when washing hotel laundry.
There are several things hotel staff will need to brush up on and keep in mind during a pandemic:
- how to use disinfectants safely and correctly;
- the correct use and wear of PPE (personal protective equipment), if needed; and
- requirement to always follow manufacturer instructions.
Routine cleaning and disinfectant use on all contact services will also need to be built into their rota and working schedules. Public spaces and areas in and around the front desk (i.e. those that usually experience the highest footfall) will also need to be cleaned far more frequently.
Education on common symptoms
If there’s one thing we’ve learned during the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s that there are varying opinions on what the common symptoms of the virus are.
For this reason, it’s vital that your hotel and its staff stick strictly to government guidelines and only furnishes staff with what it knows is official advice.
Make sure all hotel staff are also educated on the common signs and symptoms of the infection. And empower them to speak out if they spot them in staff or guests.
To make contact tracing as easy as possible, it’s important to keep detailed records of infected individuals who have visited the hotel.
You should do the same for all staff movement. Records need to be kept for a minimum of 90 days and include guest registration forms, employee assignments, control procedures and security camera videos.
During any form of epidemic or pandemic, it’s vital that you keep in touch with local authorities for the best advice. Avoid social media news and promise yourself you won’t get drawn into the rumour mill.
We’d love this blog post to simply be filed away in the ‘Hopefully Never Needed’ drawer. Bookmark it, and pretend it isn’t there. We genuinely hope you’ll never need to read these words again.