With the re-opening of hotels and venues imminent after the COVID-19 shutdown, many companies are anxious to get on with business in a safe way. We take a look at what customers can expect when hosting events in this new reality.
The hospitality industry is gearing itself up to exit the coronavirus lockdown – currently planned for 4 July 2020 – as part of the government’s wider COVID-19 recovery roadmap. This is very welcome news, both for the hospitality industry, and for individuals and businesses who use hotels and venues regularly. But just how are hotels and venues planning to re-open their doors while maintaining a strong focus on safety and guest comfort? The period of closure has been an opportunity for hotels and venues to identify initiatives that ensure the safety of customers and employees. Here’s what to expect:
Health in public areas
- Many hotels will be offering temperature checks for all staff, customers and suppliers on arrival at the hotel.
- Hotel staff will wear gloves when welcoming guests into the hotel, as well as in on-site restaurants and bars.
- Masks covering the nose and mouth will be worn by hotel staff, and will also be made available in hotel rooms and suites for guests to wear.
- Easily accessible sanitising stations will be available at hotel receptions for guests to use upon arrival at the hotel. There will also be numerous sanitising stations in public areas of the hotels.
- Enhanced cleaning procedures will be strictly implemented in all public areas, as well as in guest rooms and back-of-house areas.
- Hotels will ensure social distancing measures (as of 4th July 1m) are respected at all times by both staff and guests in all public areas, restaurants and bars.
A range of creative solutions
- Hotels have been thinking of new ways to serve breakfast and other meals, and many will be expanding their room service menus. Some hotel groups, such as Village Hotels, are also offering a ‘Click and Collect’ option for guests to enjoy food and drink at a time that suits them.
- Guests will have the opportunity to request a ‘Do Not Enter’ sign for their bedroom door, ensuring no staff will enter a bedroom if the guest has expressed that they do not wish for their bedroom to be serviced.
- Hotels with spa and pool facilities (once they are allowed to open) will operate a strict two metre distance policy, with clear signage to help guests adhere to these measures. Thorough cleaning and disinfection procedures will be followed in the changing rooms and shower areas
- Hotels are also reviewing some of their ‘nice to have’ services. For example, those which provide a valet parking service will only offer this if they can ensure the highest hygiene standards have been met.
Post-coronavirus meetings + events
- Crucially for event organisers in these uncertain times, many hotels and venues are offering flexible cancellation terms until the end of 2020. In some cases they are adding a COVID-19 clause to existing contracts, giving event organisers peace of mind that there will be minimal financial risk to their company if an event cannot take place.
- Delegates attending meetings and conferences will be given staggered arrival times, and there will be multiple entry and exit points available when possible. Hotels will operate clear, one-way flow systems to help avoid congestion.
- Seating will be adapted to meet social distancing requirements. Venues will work closely with clients to find the most suitable meeting space and layout for their event.
- Event organisers will be given central contact numbers and email addresses to assist with any queries, reducing the need to visit reception.
- Refreshment breaks will be staggered and served in multiple spaces to avoid congestion at tea and coffee stations.
- Many hotels will offer ‘Grab and Go’ lunch bags. Single use condiments will be available, and all cutlery and utensils will be offered in a safe way.
- Delegate stationery will only be provided on request, reducing the number of touch points.
A time to support the hospitality industry
These reassuring new measures being implemented by hotels, venues and the wider hospitality sector also act as an important reminder of what the industry is currently going through. The hospitality industry was the first to be hit by the COVID-19 crisis, it was one of the hardest hit, and it will take much longer than other sectors to recover.
Despite the government schemes in place, hotels and restaurants are genuinely struggling at the moment, and redundancies commonplace. Many restaurants and hotels may not be able to open in July as they are concerned the volume of guests will be too low to make a living. The social distancing rule simply makes it unrealistic for some venues to cater for the number of guests they need to be financially viable. Some are already planning to open in September instead of July, in the hope the rules continue to relax further.
Whenever venues do open, we believe that we all need to show our support to the sector and trust venues to look after guests within the relevant guidelines. We’re proud of the hospitality industry for embracing a new way of operating to keep everyone safe during these exceptional times. The measures already being implemented are heartening for companies – as well as individuals – and demonstrate that some semblance of normal life can now continue. Focusing on health first and foremost – as well as minimising personal and financial risk when visiting hotels and venues again – the hospitality industry seems ready and motivated to take on the new challenge. But it’s a two-way street – and venues really do need our confidence, loyalty and optimism during this unprecedented moment in time.