On 9th February, Boris Johnson, announced that all Covid restrictions would be lifted from Thursday 24th February. This includes the controversial decision to end the legal requirement to isolate following a positive Covid test. Whilst people are keen to feel a sense of normality again, Covid risks are still a very real concern. Many people are living with anxieties about “returning to normal” when the pandemic is not over and new variants continue to emerge.
A big concern is that clinically vulnerable and immunosuppressed people will be at increased risk of infection, and that the next Covid strain may be even more serious. It is important that the hospitality industry continues to manage guest expectations and help to provide a worry-free stay.
Managing guest expectations is essential to providing your guests with a positive experience, gaining excellent online reviews, maintaining a good reputation, and attracting returning customers. For the time being it may be wise to continue with some of the additional safeguarding measures put in place for your guests before the restrictions were lifted. Reflect on the alterations you made during the height of the pandemic and consider if they would still be useful to help both staff and guests feel safe and relaxed. These may include the following:
Optional contactless virtual check-in and check-out with digital key. If you have spent time and money setting this facility up, why not continue to offer it as an alternative for customers who prefer this method for safety reasons, or who find it more convenient
Keep your sanitising stations well stocked. This is a low cost, visual way to demonstrate to guests that their safety and wellbeing is important to you
Complimentary housekeeping on request. Some guests may prefer a more private stay; maintaining optional housekeeping can provide this for them, whilst potentially reducing your daily tasks. If you continue to offer this, ensure guests know that housekeeping is “opt in”, and that additional towels, bathroom products etc are also available throughout their stay on request
If plexiglass screens have been fitted at your front desk, consider keeping them in situ for now
If your restaurant and bar has reopened, consider continuing to offer room service at no extra cost
Continue to offer enhanced cleaning schedules for shared spaces and for customers opting into housekeeping
If you have been offering a more flexible cancellation policy, consider continuing to do so to promote guest satisfaction
Keep your website updated
Make sure potential guests have clear, easy to find information on what your individual hotel policies and protocols are, including cancellation policies
Ensure you reach out to your guests prior to their stay to give them a warm welcome using pre-arrival emails and/or text messaging. Consider sending a questionnaire to gauge your customers expectations and personalise their stay, e.g., if they prefer housekeeping, contactless check-in, or a face-to-face greeting and so forth
These are invaluable when gauging if your guests are having an enjoyable stay, and give you the opportunity to make any necessary changes to avoid receiving negative online reviews which may damage your reputation. Ensure you act on any feedback in a timely manner; guests value feeling listened to
Make time to respond to reviews. Potential travellers will see that you are responsive to your guests
Managing differing viewpoints
Different guests may have differing opinions on what is safe or necessary. As far as possible it is advisable to accommodate these different viewpoints
Invest in a quality property management and reservation system
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