In early January 2020, the spread of a new coronavirus group virus was officially registered in China. The year began with optimistic forecasts for 2020, which were up to 4% growth in overnight stays in Europe. Hotels, hostels, and private accommodation owners accordingly planned their strategies, invested in expanding their business, and presenting their offer to foreign guests, among which there was a noticeable increase in the number of Chinese tourists.
At the end of January, the virus is spreading rapidly in China, the country started introducing isolation. Initial predictions led to a decline in the number of Chinese guests, but experts said that this would not be a crucial problem and that there are other markets that may be interested in arrangements in the country. Hotels with contractual arrangements with travel agencies for Chinese tourists felt the first effects of the virus on tourism.
The virus spreads to other continents, unfortunately killing many lives and endangering even more. Over 90% of countries made decisions about closing their airports, restricting the movement of citizens, causing a drastic number of reservations canceled. In this case, online booking platforms such as Booking, Airbnb, and Expedia made the decision to fully refund their canceled reservations, pushing their customers to refund their already received money. The short-term accommodation market is taking a new big hit. Optimistic forecasts are becoming increasingly uncertain, with a recession pressing many companies and associations to cut wages and lay off their employees.
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has recognized the gravity of the whole situation, conducted numerous surveys, and announced assistance to the most vulnerable countries. It is still too early to make more accurate predictions of the impact of the Covid19 virus on international tourism. So they took into account the situation of the spread of SARS in 2003, the size and dynamics of the global tourism market, the current market disruption, the geographical spread of the COVID-19 virus and its potential economic consequences. UNWTO estimates that international tourist visits could fall from 1% to 4% globally in 2020, compared to the 3% to 4% increase we had in January. This would translate into an estimated loss of $ 30- $ 60 billion in international spending on destinations.
What can we do?
PEOPLE SAFETY FIRST
The current situation poses a high risk to you, your family, and your employees. That’s why our advice is to put the health of you and the people around you first. You can do this by following the decisions and advice of the health and safety professionals.
Planning to continue with the business crisis, do not want to be discouraged by the crisis? Don’t lay off your employees! Dismissal can cause you not to be considered for future consideration as an employer. So this can easily lead to an outflow of workers abroad. We recommend that you regularly monitor the economic decisions made by the authorities, as all countries affected by this crisis are aligning their strategies on a daily basis to minimize the crisis and minimize job losses.
Here are some things you can do to show accountability and build confidence in potential guests who are optimistic about the situation and are already making bookings for June-December:
- Flexible Cancellation Policy – Allow guests to book and cancel for free in the event of a change of plans.
- Remove restrictions – If there are certain minimum overnights you currently have, we recommend removing them so that more guests can book. We remind you that because of the crisis, many people will be reduced their budget, so instead of 7 days, they may want to stay with you for 3-4 days.
- On social networks and sales channels, indicate that you care more about the cleanliness of the property – Install air purifiers, hand sanitizers, clean rooms more often, and change linens. These are just some of the ways that we believe add extra confidence to your accommodation.
- Frequent Guest Privileges – If you do not already have one, design the benefits you will offer to guests who have already stayed with you, or are your regular guests.
- 360-degree snapshot of your apartments/rooms and surroundings – On your site, offer potential guests a better understanding of what you have to offer, connect with agencies that offer landmarks in your area. If they haven’t booked yet, convince them that they want to stay with you and that they have enough reason to choose just you and your place
Be at your disposal to anyone who is at risk of the current situation, many will need temporary accommodation until the emergency is over, offer them the opportunity to reside in your accommodation. Of course, in this situation, follow the recommendations of local health experts.
WORK ON A PLAN FOR FUTURE BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
Use the moment of smaller businesses to consider your mistakes and spaces for improvement. Explore market opportunities, more affordable, and more modern options for running a property. Now is maybe the time to try out new hotel management systems, take advantage of the free trial periods, and evaluate if it’s time to upgrade your reception. Is your current system offering a cloud solution? Do you have the ability to control bookings, rates, and view statistics using the mobile app? Consider improvements to your site. Smart home systems for your rooms will definitely be a plus when it comes to recovery.
Most importantly, the crisis will pass, guests will return, but in the future, plan to always have a strategy to cover you in the event of similar crises. Don’t stop controlling the hygiene and health of your employees. If they complain that they are not feeling well, if they have flu or cold symptoms in the workplace, it is better to instruct them to take a day off and rest, rather than to spread the disease in the workplace. It is not necessary for a virus to teach us how to behave, every disease is dangerous in its own way.