Vice President Development Europe, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts
The hospitality industry along with many other industries around the world are vigorously preparing for the “new normal”. As lockdown measures begin to ease in some markets, and hotels gradually begin to re-open and welcome back
guests when the time is right, it is vital that we as hoteliers keep our guests, staff and team members safe as we face the new challenges being brought on in the wake of COVID-19.
As travel begins to slowly resume, the recovery is likely to start with an uptick in domestic travel based off of other regions who have had lockdown measures ease and the trends they saw as a result of this. Travellers are expected to prioritise trips closer to home, to reconnect with their families and friends first, and be cautious about health and safety. Restoring traveller’s confidence, adopting safe and healthy practices and training staff in protective protocols will play a key part in the recovery. Implementing new measures to ensure the safety as well as the confidence of guests will be crucial.
First and foremost, with guest and employee safety a primary concern, we all need to further elevate our operations standards. This involves adhering to official guidelines within your region and monitoring the advice of local medical and government authorities. Social distancing measures, hygiene and cleanliness will be critical and will become the new norm in hotels around the world.
Each country will have its own variations and regulations hotels should be compliant with, but overall, it is important to reconfigure public areas to maintain appropriate spacing between seated guests, encourage guests and staff to practice social distancing and consider implementing new methods to reduce contact between your staff and guests wherever possible. For example, consider new policies in your hotels including adding signage throughout to encourage social distancing, reconfigure areas fit for large congregations, such as breakfast areas. Alongside this, enhanced surface cleaning, access to hand sanitisers in public areas and rooms, protective gear for employees and special cleaning equipment, should all be considered.
As part of our recent Count on Us initiative for example, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts’ immediate focus is to further enhance a broad range of health and safety protocols across properties in Europe, Middle East, Eurasia and Africa (EMEA). This includes the consistent use of top-of-the-range disinfectants at all hotels through our collaboration with hygiene expert Ecolab, the introduction of robust new training and guidelines, and ongoing access to critical health essentials through trusted suppliers. This means that all our hotels partners in the region have now have access to trusted suppliers to be able to source critical health essentials – including Personal Protection equipment, masks and gloves, alcohol-based hand sanitisers – and other products compliant with various countries’ regulations surrounding COVID-19.
Regular training sessions and education for staff will be key to ensuring consistent execution of any new measures. This includes keeping them up to date with the protective measures you have taken so that they feel comfortable to carry these out, as well ensuring they have access to additional COVID-19 awareness training with essential guidance on how to reduce the risk of an outbreak. I highly recommend creating a hotel level COVID-19 recovery team that covers all functions of your property to immediately address and assess challenges that the uncertainties COVID-19 will continue to cause and to help implement new processes and procedures.
Lastly, in this new environment, consumer purchasing decisions will be heavily influenced by the hotels that can provide them a sense of security. Offering guests and team member’s clear communication surrounding the safety measures being implemented for their well-being post-lockdown will help restore confidence in the services being provided by your property. We at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts EMEA are focusing on communicating a very clear message that our guests, team members and hotel partners can Count on Us to put safety first through this time, and beyond.
Ensuring you are staying well-informed of the guidelines in your country and adapting with agility and care is vital to the long-standing success of your business. The well-being of your people, guests and team members, should be the number one priority throughout each phase of recovery.
COVID-19 represents uncharted waters that we are all trying our best to navigate through. Whilst it is a challenge, I strongly believe that as an industry as a whole, we can play a key part in putting the safety and well-being first, which can eventually help restore not only the confidence of our guests but more broadly of travellers around the world.
Be agile, be adaptable and be safe.