Coronavirus Survey Results: Impact on Hotels

Revinate and Sherri Kimes, a globally recognized expert in revenue management, share the results of her recent survey on the impact of coronavirus on hoteliers and discuss how they can respond.

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Thur, March 19th

As hoteliers continue to navigate the world of hospitality amidst a global crisis, we asked our community to share with us the top challenges they were facing. Interestingly, in just a matter of days, we saw over 290 responses submitted from around the globe. This rapid response rate told us something for certain: the overarching issue amongst hoteliers right now is their basic need to connect and be heard. In an effort to support that need, we are surfacing the results of our internal survey here. Our hope is that while we shelter in place and continue to work in remote, removed environments, sharing these insights will help reassure you that you’re not alone in this struggle.

The Financial Challenge

Forty-six percent of respondents report their top challenge as cash flow management. With a decline in occupancy as severe as we are experiencing today, this is to be expected. But it remains the most difficult challenge for hotels to overcome.

One hotelier sums up the problem that so many are facing, stating, 
“Complete lack of income, and almost 100% refunds are happening in the 4 weeks ahead of each day.”

Hoteliers in this category are primarily concerned with operating a business that feels as though it is hemorrhaging money. Some of the actions these hoteliers are taking include:

- Reducing fixed costs
- Running the hotel with a skeleton staff
- Researching and applying for government packages
- Working with ownership to develop a financial plan
- Considering how to engage and retain staff while they are furloughed

The Uncertainty Challenge

Eighteen percent of respondents shared that their top challenge is uncertainty. The unknown makes forecasting feel nearly impossible and leaves hotel teams paralyzed when it comes to projecting and strategizing how to recoup lost revenue.

As one hotelier says, 
“The fact that I have to go on day by day without knowing what is going to happen next is the biggest challenge. There is so much uncertainty and I’m seeing that anything can change any minute.”

Hoteliers in this category have gone from running their business with consistency and data to now having very little information about what the future holds. For those who are struggling with the unknown, there are a few steps hoteliers are taking to ground their forecasts and planning including:

- Scouring historical data to glean insights about how to forecast
- Reviewing predictions on what the travel industry will look like after this
- Surveying guests to better understand if they are considering future travel and for what months
- Reaching out to corporate accounts to understand their own forecast for re-initiating business travel


The Tactical Challenge

Nine percent of respondents report their top challenge is managing existing reservations/ cancellations. A hotelier explains, 
“Due to the uncertain future, guests are unsure and are choosing full refunds instead of credits.” 

These hoteliers are actively engaging with booked guests and attempting to save the reservations. Here are some of the actions they are taking:

- Evaluating the curve in markets that are beginning to come back to life
- Reassuring guests that it is safe to move existing reservations further into the future instead of canceling
- Keeping an eye on 3rd party events to see if they reschedule for a future date
- Communicating with audience segments who may have had to cancel events are other locations to see if they can capture their re-booking (weddings, graduation parties…etc)

The Proactive Challenge

Eight percent report their top challenge is marketing to guests. According to many respondents, hoteliers are looking for answers around 
“what to do marketing-wise as soon as the ‘lockdowns’ start to dissolve.” 

Under pressure to develop re-opening plans for ownership, many hoteliers are worried about when to start marketing and how not to appear tone deaf to their guests. This group is actively putting together plans that include:

- Social media strategies to nurture their guests while lockdown are still in effect
- Promotional packages to run when guests are ready to begin planning again
- Strategies for how to stand out from the crowd when the mad rush of re-opening promotions begins
- Data clean-up projects to ensure their audience segments are ready to receive the right campaign messages at the right time

The Empathic Challenge

Aside from the list of hoteliers’ top concerns above, we saw a repeating theme come up within the survey answers. While teams are worried about cash, occupancy and marketing, they are simultaneously prioritizing managing their staff’s welfare. Across the globe, hoteliers are feeling the emotional toll of decreased hours, furloughs and layoffs. Our respondents made it very clear that their teams feel like families and in tough times, when so many are suffering and losing their jobs, survivors’ guilt is real.

In fact, this has been a main topic of discussion in the social groups we created for hoteliers to share their coronavirus challenges and offer solutions to each other. You can request to join each groups and view the discussions here: 
Facebook Group | LinkedIn Group

Hoteliers who empathize with their staff are actively engaging their team by focusing on:

- Making their best attempts to forecast a timeline to re-opening and keeps staff updated as that changes
- Incorporating 1:1 phone calls into communications with the team (in addition to group email updates)
- Committing to consistent updates and engagement schedules in order to ensure that furlough staff are ready and excited to rejoin the team when activity picks up again
- Sharing resources for laid off staff to help them navigate unemployment
- Writing recommendations for staff so they are prepared when it’s time to find a new placement

Given how critical and complicated these challenges are for our community of hoteliers, we remain dedicated to sharing strategies and examples on how to combat coronavirus related business challenges. 

Navigating the COVID-19 crisis: Five challenges hoteliers must overcome

Navigating the COVID-19 crisis: Five challenges hoteliers must overcome

APRIL 6, 2020

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