Coronavirus – now is not the time to panic…
There is absolutely no doubt that we are entering a time of huge uncertainty and there is just no denying the massive impact this terrible virus is having on us on a global scale.
What is Coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease
Here are the facts – as of 09:00 on 2 March 2020, a total of 13,525 people have been tested in the UK for Covid-19, of which 13,485 were confirmed negative.
The Chief Medical Officer for England has announced that a further four patients in England have tested positive. This brings the UK total to 40, including one case in Northern Ireland, one in Wales and one in Scotland. 15 cases have been discharged following two consecutive negative test results.
Globally as of 09:00 on 2 March 2020 there have been 89,070 confirmed cases, of which 80,026 are in China, 4,212 are in South Korea, 1,694 are in Italy and 978 in Iran
The fatalities to date are 3,043. One hundred and thirty one of these fatalities have occurred outside of Mainland China (Iran (54), Italy (34), Republic of Korea (22), Japan (5), cases on Diamond Princess Cruise ship (6), Hong Kong (2), France (2), Taiwan (1), Philippines (1), USA (2), Thailand (1), Australia (1)
So what do we do as a hotel industry? Well, the first thing to realise is that different locations will be affected differently. There is no doubt that major cities will be impacted, with sporting and business events being cancelled (even within our own industry ITB was cancelled for the first time in its half-century history). However, many of us have less than 0.5% of our total business from any of the infected areas.
The immediate reaction is often to drop rates. My advice is please don’t. The fact is that reducing rates does not stimulate demand and this has been proven time and time again; the only thing that lowering rates does is eat away at your already tight bottom line. We also know it may take a few minutes to lower rates but it can take literally years to bring that ADR back up again. So what to do:
- Hold tight on rate
- Ensure that maximum inventory is available online (brand site)
- Now is not the time to hold back on OTA’s (for once!). Open up availability but also be very aware of a higher-than-normal cancellation rate
- Take a step back and look at your segmentation and look at how your feeder markets can be maximised versus your usual markets
- Definitely look towards your local market. It is a cruel fact that if people are deciding not to travel abroad, then they often will decide to holiday at home.
- Use your databases to target local visitors
- Add some great packages to your website to attract ‘staycations’.
- Review your digital marketing campaigns and ensure that your local markets are targeted. Now is not the time to pull back on marketing!
- Have your sales teams target local companies for meetings and events that may have gone elsewhere
- Ensure that every member of your team have clear messaging on how you are dealing with the virus
- Make sure that this messaging is available to your guests but make sure that everyone is ‘on point’
This health and safety messaging should take the form of:
- We clean, spray and disinfect multiple times each day. We use gloves and sanitize and provide all guests with anti-bacterial wash
- We do not have any guests at the hotel from any of the infected areas
- Provide honest and up-to-date information and keep guests informed
At the extreme end, you may need to consider reviewing costs and potentially closing floors to reduce heating etc and perhaps looking at staffing levels (I sincerely hope that it doesn’t come to that)
Use your Revenue Managers and more importantly, use your Revenue Management Systems. You will have a heap of data and this data should be picking up trends. Figures can be re-adjusted and all of your data should be giving you a hint of how to handle this crisis. Look at pick-up and pace. Review how your segments are behaving. Look at what rates are being sold. You may find that your data supports you more than you think…
I hope the resounding message throughout this article is ‘please don’t panic’. Use everything you have at hand to review the true impact on your business and pivot if you need to. We are all used to dealing with change and I hope that this doesn’t mean dropping rates and following a ‘race to the bottom’. Be brave and adjust and good luck!
and as always, for all things revenue, please just email@example.com