The hotel industry was the first impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and will likely be one of the last to recover. According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s November survey, 63% of hotels have less than half of their pre-crisis staff working full time, and 77% expect to lay off more workers by June 2021.
Throughout 2020, the hotel industry has had two main concerns:
- Reimagining how their guests can still experience elevated hospitality during their stay.
- Maintaining the highest levels of safety and cleanliness not only for their guests, but for their staff.
With these thoughts in mind, we asked small hoteliers around the country about their experience in 2020 and what survival tips they can offer. The following responses resonated most deeply.
Crane’s Beach House Boutique Hotel & Luxury Villas, Delray Beach, Florida
Crane’s has the benefit of being an open-air property with apartment-style suites and fully equipped kitchens, a large outdoor courtyard, naturally distanced gathering areas and two large pool decks.
“We knew we wouldn’t need to close if we adapted quickly and made the necessary changes to remain safe,” said General Manager Cathy Balestriere. “So we created what we’ve deemed a ‘limited contact’ environment.”
They installed Ring technology for remote contact and check-out options, as well as a plexiglass separator at the registration desk. Every door is sealed after the room is cleaned and sanitized so guests can be sure that nobody has entered. Employees are required to wear a mask at all times while on property; they also have daily temperature checks on arrival and must respond to a series of questions regarding their recent interactions and personal health. Employees who don’t need to be on site for guest relations are working remotely.
Guests are encouraged to stock up on supplies and food and then stay safe in their rooms without coming into contact with other guests or employees. However, the hotel’s elevated hospitality now includes:
- Complimentary “Stay Safely” sanitation kits for every guest. This kit includes two disposable face masks, one pair of single-use gloves, sanitizer packets, and antiseptic wipes. Also included is a request from management that every guest wear a mask in the hotel’s public spaces or at least when passing other guests or employees.
- An on-demand, entry-free amenity delivery policy. The hotel supplies large baskets of towels, toiletries, kitchen paper needs, etc.; additional requested amenities are left in a basket outside the door in the open-air corridor. Trash pickup is also entry-free; bags are left in the corridor and a call is made to request pickup.
To encourage occupancy during the week, Crane’s created special promotions and programs such as Florida resident rates, extended stay and week-long stay specials, and “workcation” and “schoolcation” offers.
“Our efforts have been featured in Travel Weekly and USA Today, among other publications, because of the degree to which we’ve shifted operations to accommodate guests in the era of COVID,” Cathy said.
While no one can predict what will happen once the pandemic is over, Crane’s does expect some of their recent updates to remain in place, such as the increased emphasis on health and safety.
“We will continue to offer a ‘limited contact’ environment to visitors who choose to remain distanced,” Cathy said. “When travel does come back, everyone will have a different comfort level when it comes to interaction, and we will be prepared to cater to those sensitivities.”
At the other end of the country, two properties in Alaska deal with state requirements and other challenges.
Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, Tordrillo Range, Alaska
The five-star resort 60 miles west of Anchorage has been named one of the best heli-ski resorts in the world by CNN Travel and Robb Report. Their COVID response has been dictated partly by the state of Alaska, which is requiring proof of a negative COVID PCR test within 72 hours of travel to the state; proof must be shown at the airport upon arrival.
Tordrillo Mountain Lodge has a maximum of 12 guests per week in the largest lodge; staff live on property and are fully quarantined before guests arrive. Their elevated hospitality solution includes the BD Veritor™ Plus System on site for rapid COVID-19 testing, with results available in 15 minutes.
In addition to more stringent cleaning protocols and hand sanitizer stations, their safety procedures also include:
- A fogging machine that enables staff to sanitize entire rooms between guests
- A restriction against guests mingling between lodges
- Distanced dining options
- A requirement to wear masks inside all facility aircraft
“Tordrillo Mountain Lodge had a successful summer season at full capacity, with no COVID cases,” said owner Mike Overcast. “Our guests can expect the same epic skiing and riding with a few minor changes to the lodge experience.”
Angels Rest LLC, Seward, Alaska
Angels Rest is a small boutique property where all units have private outdoor entrances; they were already using self-check-in and -check-out procedures. Additional safety and cleaning procedures implemented this year include:
- Social distancing and mask use in common areas
- Replacing fabric shower curtains with vinyl for easy disinfecting
- Reimagining use of the ice machine in the common area so guests can feel comfortable self-serving
- Cleaning common areas three times a day
- Providing disinfecting materials to guests
- Daily temperature checks for staff
They’ve also added UV-C filters to all guest units so that each is purified for several hours between guests. Whenever possible, they also allow a room to sit for 24 hours after cleaning.
Angels Rest also had to rethink one of their signature pieces of elevated hospitality, which meant replacing paper binders with digital tablets.
“We pride ourselves on providing guests lots of information,” said Lynda Paquette, managing member. “Each unit had three binders: one about the unit and our property, one about activities in the area, and the third about hiking and filled with local trail maps. By eliminating the binders, we’ve removed multiple touch-points, and the tablets are easy to disinfect.”
Elevating Your Hospitality
For most small hotels, getting through the next few seasons will be hard work that will require thinking outside the box and finding creative ways to deliver not only a sense of safety but also memorable and unique experiences to their guests. Big and small changes can certainly put your own mark in elevating hospitality – as the properties mentioned here have done.
Weiner’s Ltd. Is proud to support hotels everywhere throughout this industry crisis. We pride ourselves on offering travel-size toiletries or single-use cleaning and convenience essentials and the same elevated customer service that those in the hotel industry offer their guests. Contact us for a personalized buying experience designed to meet your operational needs as well as the needs of your guests.
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