Post-Covid-19 Hotel Re-Opening Planning

Start now with your re-opening plan
by hospitality expert,
Howard Field

An epidemic such as that we are now experiencing, requires that plans for re-opening build in assumptions that can be reviewed as the situation becomes clearer.

Unlike having set target dates for opening a new hotel, based on construction and fitting programmes that can be scheduled and tightly controlled, there are many external factors will govern the timing and outcomes of the re-opening plan

Whether the hotel is owner operated, or is subject to the involvement of external stakeholders, will also affect the complexity of re-opening planning and budgeting.

Decisions by Government and other external authorities will influence when various elements of any plan for re-opening can be activated.

Transport availability will determine when guests, suppliers and employees can gain access the property.

Whether all the businesses providing goods and services to the hotel remain able to supply as required will determine whether alternative sources must be found. Suppliers will be concerned with their own solvency and may demand pre-payment or fast settlement to ensure continuity.

Organising bringing back staff who were laid off or furloughed, and recruiting and inducting new staff will be major tasks. When government schemes to support the retention of employees expire, the total costs of their pay will fall on the operator. This could result in the enforced layoff of staff not required while business levels recover.

In addition, special care will need to be taken over the physical and mental health of returning staff. They may need considerably more personal support while they re-adapt to the working environment.

Ensuring all the assets are secure and in good order, and setting up the property, equipment and M&E systems to be ready for operation, are essential before operations can re-commence.

The many IT, communication, safety and security systems, have to be recommissioned . This requires also checking that externally provided software and support services remain available.

Sales, marketing and public relations activities are all essential parts of planning for re-opening. Re-connecting with all sources of business and re-establishing contacts with agents and clients, including checking whether past contacts are still in place, will be of prime importance.

Setting up reservation and revenue management systems, and populating them with pre-existing data to enable preliminary forecasts to be made. Reinstating point of sale, front and back office and all financial accounting and control systems needs to be planned, allowing for staged practice and full operation.

Planning and practising to re-start all operational activities need to be phased depending on the availability of safe access and readiness of the property and systems.

Careful financial planning will be necessary to ensure that adequate working capital is available to support gearing up operations. Determining and costing staffing levels and planning purchasing of supplies and services for the period before revenues are generated and cash is received, are vital to ensure funds are available when required.

Reviewing all policies regarding deposits and prepayments during the initial period will be important. Credit checking and history will no longer be reliable. This includes payment terms with corporate clients, third parties, agents and others.

Equally, vendors to the hotel will also be concerned with their own solvency and may demand pre-payment or fast settlement to ensure continuity of supply.

There will be challenges handling all of these elements, and as well unique opportunities for management teams to re-think and implement creative and productive improvements.

Hotels will need to demonstrate to guests and staff even more than in the past that they provide physical comfort, security, clean and healthy environments, and they tick all of the sustainability boxes in their styles of operation. These will be far more important success factors in the future.


Re-Opening Plan Checklist

Key Questions to Answer:

  • Under whose control is the decision when to start re-opening ?

  • Who will authorise the programme and the key action steps ?

  • Who will have responsibility to coordinate and report on progress ?

  • How often will the plan be reviewed and updated?

  • Who will budget and control the costs ?

  • How will the re-opening budget be funded ?


Task List Content

  • Set a best outcome target date for the re-opening phases and base the planning on this, subject to a regular update

  • Establish policies that will apply during the re-opening period, including credit terms, purchasing and payment term, employee pay and benefits

  • Plan property preparation; re-commissioning of all building management systems; restart contracts; reinstate security and CCTV systems; carry out health and vermin checks

  • Check all physical assets; FF&E placement for re-starting operations

  • Programme systems re-start for all property management, HR, guest and POS, hotel accounting, marketing and reporting systems

  • Plan re-opening staffing; re-commence recruitment; organise on-boarding of furloughed and new employees

  • Schedule restarting of F&B purchasing and supply network

  • Programme all consumable supplies, utilities etc

  • Staged plan for operational re-opening for each department and outlet

  • Programme Marketing and P&R throughout and including the re-launch

  • Ensure external authorities advised as necessary; check licences, permits

  • Prepare a cash forecast for the period and a plan for provision of the required working capital

Against each of the above, allocate responsibilities, and the minimum timing required. There are many tools to aid project planning, most of which are based on the Gantt model.

On-line meetings

The manner in which a person makes a presentation is important both in face-to-face meetings and video conference meetings. Listed on this page are some guidelines and presentation tips that will be helpful for your next video conference.

What to Wear

Solid shades of blue or grey are usually best. These colours (depending on the background) bring out healthy skin tones and do not create a visual distraction. On a television monitor, black and white clothing colours can also enhance the skin tones; however, if they contrast sharply with your skin tone, it is usually best to wear a less contrasting colour. Similarly, try not to dress in colours that match your skin and hair tones. These will tend to wash out your natural coloration. Avoid wearing red, green and orange, especially in bright or bold shades. These colours can cause an unfriendly hue that is distracting to the viewer.

Sounds and Movements

Noises that you may not notice in a personal meeting can become distracting in a video conference. Avoid tapping on a desk, whispering to others or shuffling papers. Modern high quality microphones are designed pick up even the softest voice and so while whispering may seem harmless, the parties on the other end of your video conference may hear every word you speak.

Avoid unnecessary movements such as rocking in a chair or moving side to side. Video systems are sensitive to motion and movements you make that may seem slight can be magnified depending on the framing of your position in the video window. Allow the viewer to concentrate on what you have to say and not on the movements that you make. If you do move substantially, do so when trying to emphasize a statement or key phrase as you speak. In this way, you can use the cameras to your advantage by allowing a key word or phrase to create a picture as well as a statement.

Speaking and Eye Contact

Eye to eye contact is important and video conferencing systems are quite good at transmitting facial expressions including the line of your eyes. When speaking, look towards the monitors and gesture as you would if the other parties were sitting right in front of you. The camera is usually located above the monitor and this makes it unnecessary to look directly at the camera in order to look natural as you speak. Instead, look at the monitors that will be showing you the images of the other meeting participants. If you are using Skype you will need to look at the web camera and not at the computer screen or it will seem as though you are looking down.

Managing Motion and Sound Delay

Meeting through a video conference is very similar to a face-to-face meeting except some participants may be half-way around the world. This can cause some important differences in the way we interact. Most people tend to interrupt one another in meetings and we do this without even thinking about it. Video conference meetings highlight interruptions especially when there is a slight delay between speakers due to the network connection. This usually happens when network connections are of slow speed and over long distances. Do your best to be patient while waiting to speak. Wait until a speaker is finished talking before you begin to speak.

 

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