Creating Advanced Risk Management Policies for Hotels
Things are looking brighter for the hotel industry. 2022 has started strong, with February showing a marked improvement on revenue per available room (RevPAR) from January. The data is showing results in line with pre-pandemic performance and a welcome boost in demand. As travel reopens, this is set to continue. While weekend performance leads the way, hotels are seeing more midweek bookings as people return to the office and more in-person meetings and conferences.
While these are causes for optimism, the industry still faces significant challenges. We are still, after all, living with COVID-19. Cases continue to rise across the UK. Combined with worries over the war in Ukraine and rising inflation leading to a cost of living crisis, consumer confidence has taken a nosedive. This will, no doubt, impact holiday decision making. As people tighten their belts to cover rising costs, discretionary spending will be curtailed, with the leisure and retail industries competing for their share of the little disposable income that’s left. Hotels will also suffer the costs of rising bills, facing tough decisions over whether to absorb these costs or to pass them onto customers, potentially risking losing custom.
Hotels, therefore, need to focus on offering guests great value for money and an unparalleled customer experience, while building advanced risk management policies to mitigate the risks still posed by the ongoing COVID-19 infections.
Adapting risk management for guest and staff safety
The key to a hotel’s risk management policy in the era of COVID is limiting people’s exposure to germs. Not only in dealing with the current situation, but also to prepare for future outbreaks – be that a case of flu or something more serious.
Reducing touch points
Offering contactless touchpoints will be key for hotels looking to reduce risk. That may look like contact-free check-ins, touchless water fountains and even voice-controlled elevators. Investing in these kinds of technology will help give staff and guests more confidence when moving around the hotel premises.
Contact-free control is something more hotels are introducing, whereby you can control your entire hotel experience from your smartphone. Whether that’s checking in, ordering room service or managing in-room functions such as air conditioning, heating, window blinds, ventilation…even using your phone as a TV remote.
Hilton launched digital room keys back in 2015 and we expect to see more and more hotels introducing them post-COVID to reduce touchpoints further.
When it comes to dining, the traditional hotel buffet is over. Shared utensils, crowded queues and self-service are hotbeds for transmission. Instead, hotels will need to offer to sit down dining, with spaced seating to allow people to socially distance themselves. Many restaurants are already using QR code menus and employing more frequent deep cleaning of tables and other shared surfaces. Or, alternatively, hotels could consider creating small kitchen spaces in hotel rooms.
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The government issued some helpful guidance for hotels and hospitality businesses when it comes to completing a risk assessment that takes into consideration the risk of COVID-19. Hotels should keep in mind adequate ventilation and enhanced cleaning procedures and training, while ensuring staff who test positive for COVID stay at home. What activities on the hotel premises are likely to cause risk of transmission? Who is most at risk? And what controls are needed to reduce risk? These are all questions hotels should be asking when creating their advanced risk management policies.
Ensuring your hotel is adequately insured is also a key factor in risk management and mitigation. If your policy hasn’t been updated since before the pandemic, it might be time to revisit it to ensure your cover is suitable.
People are no longer legally required to self-isolate or test if they have symptoms of COVID, which will present new challenges. But, by designing a robust risk management policy, hotels will be best placed to keep their guests and staff safe, building customer confidence and setting them up to lead the way in post-COVID recovery.
For more information and advice on risk management and insurance for hotels and the hospitality industry, speak to Full Time Cover on 0207 923 4191 today. We offer professional, impartial advice.