Regitse Cecillie Rosenvinge, hospitality consultant and founder of Room22.agency, shares three ideas for hoteliers to embrace change.
Humans aren’t fond of change – it’s deeply integrated in our DNA that we prefer the safe and known. But this year has promoted the exact opposite. The coronavirus has forced us to meet ‘the new normal’ and although we might not like it, we must embrace it in order to survive. And we can. After all, that’s what we humans are best at; adapting to survive.
In the hospitality industry, Covid-19 has caused millions of closed businesses, people being fired or furloughed, and a growing feeling of despair. But is there really nothing we can do? No ways to stay on track to get through this pandemic?
Of course there is.
First of all, we must believe in the future. People will start traveling again, hotels will open their doors again. Although a full recovery will take years, we can adjust to this ‘new normal’ instead of mourning the past. Yes, it’s sad that the world of hospitality as we knew it is gone – but another world emerges out of all this. And it’s up to you to catch the opportunities of tomorrow instead of staying blind in the present.
So let’s dig into the concept of change management and how you as a hotelier can embrace it successfully.
It all begins with an open mind.
The concept of change management addresses the people side of change. In its purest form, it’s about bringing your team to a desired place – in a safe and caring way. Ultimately, the concept focuses on how to assist employees embrace, adapt and utilise a change (or several changes) in their day-to-day work. In other words, change management is exactly what your hotel needs during these hectic times. Without people, there wouldn’t be hotels – and I’d like to think it stays that way in the future.
According to the company Prosci that provides change management solutions, there are three main phases in the change management process:
• Preparing for change
• Managing change
• Reinforcing change
Modern leaders, also in hospitality, must be ready to adapt and above all, be ready to embrace change. The current pandemic is a splendid example of that.
Here are my seven ideas for hoteliers to embrace change:
1. Optimise your team
By now, most hotels have cut a great amount of employees and even entire departments in some cases. This means the hotel structure as such has changed dramatically in less than a year. The existing employees are handling tasks they’re not used to (general manager’s are now responsible for F&B and front desk staff have been asked to take care of social media etc). Although it can be a messy situation, it’s also a great chance for the current employees to get a thorough look inside the machinery and truly get to know the brand they’re working for. Optimising your team also means dressing them for success. Make sure they’re prepared and feel comfortable in the daily operations. You might have to focus on fewer people, but don’t compromise on quality.
2. Work with freelancers and agencies
Many hotels have been forced to let their marketing managers go – some have even removed their entire marketing departments. Remember, though, that marketing and communication is extremely valuable moving forward, so whatever you do, make sure not to neglect this. Working with a freelancer or an agency on your social media channels or email marketing is a great and cost efficient way to stay on track without having to train someone for a fixed position. An outside perspective of your brand might also be valuable at this moment in time.
3. Embrace technology
There’s no way around it; technology in the hospitality industry is here to stay, and the current pandemic has accelerated things quite a bit. Now is the time for your front office to look into digital solutions and for your hotel to embrace the newest technology. Certain software is able to replace employees and minimise guest interaction, which is crucial for a long while to come.
Implement self check-in counters in the lobby, replace concierge services with a digital city guide, etc. Get creative and think about how much value you’re able to provide your guests now that you can’t be there for them in the traditional way.
4. Stick to the guidelines
Needless to stay, hotels must stick to the government guidelines both now and in the future. The demands of social distancing, hand sanitiser, face masks and zero breakfast buffets are important parts of the change management chain – to an extent that these things will probably stay around post-Corona as well.
Tell your guests about your safety measurements in order for them to feel safe and welcome.
5. Prioritise your housekeeping
Two of the most important hotel departments these days are security and housekeeping. As a hotel, you must be able to guarantee cleanliness, sanitation and safety above anything else – both in order to protect the guests and the staff. Keep enough workforce in place to ensure high standard procedures within these areas. Occupancy might be a lot lower than what it usually is, and several facilities including spa and wellness areas are currently closed down as well, but public areas must be constantly looked after and rooms have to be served in a whole new way. That demands capacity and training.
6. Give your guests a choice
Many hotels have removed their minibar facilities and are now offering their guests snacks and drinks on request instead.
Guests should also be given the option of self-check-in, just as they should be able to handle their own luggage at all times. In luxury hotels, there are certain standard procedures of how to treat guests, but these days, it’s an even bigger luxury for guests to feel in control.
7. Lastly, make it a human experience
Make it a human experience despite the circumstances. Most importantly, hospitality is still – and will always be – about human interaction in one way or another, and you must make sure your guest feels at home.
Put fresh flowers in the lobby, play subtle music in the bar, train your existing staff to “smile with their eyes” and perform excellent service in all situations. In other words; make a stay at your hotel as cosy an experience as possible!