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PLAINFIELD, IL, MAY 4, 2020 -- Hoteliers are being hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, witnessing historically low customer demand, reduced rates, and unprecedented cancellations. But some are seeing light at the end of a very long tunnel and are making the best of the slowdown. Recognizing now is the ideal time to get construction projects completed, they are tackling everything from major Property Improvement Plans (PIP) to small but important maintenance jobs.

"With interest rates nearing zero, funding a hotel renovation has never been more affordable. Also, hotel construction typically involves disruption of operations and guest services, so timing a renovation during this low demand period couldn't work out better," said Sam Cicero, President of Cicero's Development Corp., a general contractor specializing in renovating hospitality properties. "Finally, with economic reports suggesting more new hotels will be coming online over the next couple years, renovation is key to remaining competitive."

Two areas ripe for renovation are ADA compliance measures and the installation of sustainability technology into operations. If a hotel owner decides to make lemonade out of this sour situation by investing in improvements, Cicero suggests these two projects can help maximize your returns when the economy re-opens.

ADA Compliance: Hotels have increasingly been the targets of ADA Title III lawsuits. A handicapped guest who feels that they have been discriminated against by a hotel’s lack of effort to remove barriers can hire an attorney and file suit in Federal Court. If you are not sure about what needs to be done in your hotel for compliance, consider retaining an access specialist to perform an ADA inspection. For example, hotels must set aside a required number of accessible guest rooms depending on their key count. Accessible guest rooms must be dispersed among the various classes of guest rooms, and provide choices of types of guest rooms, number of beds, and other amenities comparable to the choices provided to other guests. To meet ADA compliance requirements a hotel owner should consider:

  • Upgrading public and company restrooms
  • Widening door frames and installing accessible hardware on doors
  • Adjusting water fountains
  • Replacing problematic flooring
  • Adding railings or grab bars in appropriate locations
  • Creating or improving accessible parking
  • Installing ramps or creating curb cuts at entrances
  • Rearranging furniture and other features to reduce barriers to service.
  • Sustainability: Plumbing, lighting and HVAC are major expenses for every hotel. Deploying LED lighting, low-flow showers, dual-flush toilets, EnergyStar® systems, and faucet aerators will reduce utility costs compared to traditional products by 15-30 percent or more. In addition, there are often utility rebates, tax breaks and government grants that reward owners for being good stewards of the environment. Taking these steps can also increase the overall customer experience by promoting staying in a green building. Many states and federal agencies have government issued mandates requiring employees traveling on business to stay in green hotels.

    For more information visit www.cicerosdev.com.

 
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – (May 4, 2020) –The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) today introduced Safe Stay, an industry-wide, enhanced standard of health and safety protocols designed to prepare America’s hotels to safely welcome back guests and employees as the economy reopens. Safe Stay represents the top priority for the industry, the health and safety of guests and employees.

 

The standards of Safe Stay were developed under the guidance of an Advisory Council, comprised of industry leaders representing all segments of the hotel industry, and in conjunction with public health experts to advance best practices for protecting against the coronavirus. This initiative represents a new level of focus and transparency for an industry already built on cleanliness. Hotels have always met rigorous standards for cleaning and safety and these enhanced guidelines are rooted in recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

 

“Safe Stay was developed specifically to ensure enhanced safety for hotels guests and employees. While hotels have always employed demanding cleaning standards, this new initiative will ensure greater transparency and confidence throughout the entire hotel experience,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA. “The industry’s enhanced hotel cleaning practices, social interactions, and workplace protocols will continue to evolve to meet the new health and safety challenges and expectations presented by COVID-19.”

 

The “Safe Stay” guidelines are intended to be iterative, and will be revised as needed based on the recommendations of public health authorities, in compliance with any federal, state and local laws. They include guidance on the following:

Employee & guest health

Employee responsibilities

Cleaning products and protocols

Physical distancing

 

“The hotel industry maintains stringent standards for cleaning and safety, and the Safe Stay initiative helps to strengthen best practices to provide the healthy environments that travelers expect at hotels throughout the country,” said Ecolab. “Development of the Safe Stay initiative included guidance from Ecolab, a global leader in cleaning and disinfecting solutions and services that collaborates with the U.S. EPA, FDA, CDC, WHO and other organizations to help establish and promote best practice guidance, training and solutions.” For more than 90 years, Ecolab has partnered with the hotel industry to provide cleaner, safer and healthier environments for employees and guests.

 

“While the hotel industry was one of the first affected by the pandemic, we have collectively stepped up to serve their communities during this public health crisis.  Thousands of hotels across the country, more than half of those small businesses, are working tirelessly during this uncertain time to support their employees, healthcare workers and first responders. When the time is right, hotels will be ready to safely and eagerly welcome back America’s traveling public,” concluded Rogers.

 

The Safe Stay Advisory Council enhanced guidelines can be found at www.ahla.com/SafeStay and a list of our Safe Stay Advisory Council can be seen here.

 
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April 30, 2020

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused mass cancellation of corporate events, international congress meetings, sports and social events. International travel bans in addition to the UK’s lockdown and social distancing measures are expected to severely impact the hospitality industry in the UK, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

The hospitality and leisure industry contribute 5% of national GDP and accounts for 10% of employment in the country, according to UKHospitality. The main tourism source markets for the UK are major European countries including Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, the US and Australia. These source markets together account for more than 60% of total inbound visitors, according to VisitBritain, while China and Canada are among the top 10 nationalities in terms of expenditure. Impending job losses in these countries will slow demand for leisure travel, thereby affecting tourism in the UK.

Aditi Dutta Chowdhury, Economic Research Analyst at GlobalData, says: “If the EU-UK negotiations fail to reach Free Trade Agreements, Brexit will multiply the challenges to the food and drink industry in the UK. In addition to this, the COVID-19 outbreak will reduce tourist inflows to the UK as people will be skeptical of travelling owing to the fear factor, which will severely erode the tourism and hospitality sector’s earnings.”

COVID-19 will leave deep scars on the hotel industry

Several crises in the past have had a significant impact on inbound tourism in the UK. In 2001, a 11.7% decline in earning from inbound tourism was reported owing to the security threat from terrorism. Subdued growth in earnings was reported during the 2003 SARS outbreak and a 0.3% fall in 2007 at the onset of the global financial crisis. Furthermore, uncertainty looming over the UK’s economic prospects since the Brexit referendum has undermined business confidence, reflected in the fall in shares of international business visitors from 24.6% in 2015 to 21.8% in 2019.

Aditi continues: “The COVID-19 crisis will have a profound impact on the UK’s inbound tourism market and cities including London, Manchester and Liverpool will be the most exposed to this impact as Europe and the US are the worst affected by the outbreak.”

The full impact of COVID-19 on international travel will depend on the extent of the pandemic and the duration of related travel restrictions. The response of the public will also influence the total impact, particularly in respect to the short-term period after travel restrictions are lifted. GlobalData predicts that UK inbound tourist will fall by around 35% compared to 2019, due to impacts created by COVID-19.

Revival strategy

As part of government stimulus measures, businesses in the leisure or hospitality sectors in the UK are eligible for a 100% discount on business tax. The government is also adding liquidity to the sectors. A hospitality and leisure business with a tax value of £15,000 or less is entitled to receive a grant of £10,000. Businesses with a tax value of between £15,000 and £51,000 are entitled to receive a cash grant of £25,000.

Aditi adds: “The present health crisis combined with a no-deal Brexit may pose a significant downside risk to the hospitality sector in the UK. Policy advisers, parliamentarians along with hospitality industry association are working together to adopt favorable migration policy and business rates in response to the economic needs of the sector.”

 
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Let’s face it, the countless 2020 industry predictions we read in December 2019 did not prepare us for this. Business school, quite frankly, couldn’t prepare us for this. Hoteliers, a few mere months ago, found themselves facing the year ahead with unbridled optimism. We relished in the promise of continued innovation, while hotels were poised to welcome an influx of eager travelers, and revenue projections boasted an upward trajectory. And now? We find ourselves in uncharted territory, facing — arguably — more uncertainty than we ever have before. 

Not to say COVID-19 is the first pandemic to impact the hospitality realm, far from it. However, COVID-19 has, in many ways, created the perfect storm, its economic impact spreading far and wide as borders are shut down, and emergency protocols are implemented. In many ways, the world has come to a grinding halt, and hospitality is no exception. Hotel occupancy and airline travel have, understandably, plummeted, and many casinos and hotels are shutting down entirely for an undetermined amount of time.

However, amidst these uncertain times, it’s crucial to remember that this crisis is temporary.

Some forward-thinking management companies are using this lull as an opportunity to get projects done that are easier to accomplish with low occupancy. Things like installing a beacon network for an employee safety solution or updating their other systems to future-proof their business against future disruptions.

In short, there does exist a silver lining. 

The Time You Never Had, You Have Now

Admittedly, we’ve all recently had a relative or friend suggest the productive use of this time, which many of us are dutifully spending in self-isolation. Common ideas include; finally starting the project you never otherwise had time for, reading a book, cleaning out the closet, reorganizing the house, or perhaps even learning a new language or adopting a new hobby. The logic is undeniably sound — we so often complain that there aren’t enough hours in the day, but now we suddenly have an influx of time. The only question that remains is, how can we best utilize it?

Now, shouldn’t the same reasoning apply to the hospitality realm? As industry leaders, are there ways we can leverage this period of low occupancy? The answer, undeniably, is yes. 

As hotels look to update their operational infrastructure and steadily shift many of their primary platforms from legacy technology to new-age solutions throughout the year, they often run into a dilemma of timing. The implementation of a new platform (or in some cases, a total technological overhaul) is often time-consuming, and the training of staff can pose a potential disruption to hotel operations. The same applies, of course, for physical renovations or updates to the property, which could impact the guest experience. Understandably, this means that ‘high-season’ typically isn’t the best time to approach any major renovations, whether technical or property-specific. 

And so, an opportunity presents itself. As hotel occupancy dwindles around the globe, properties can tackle projects that are easier to accomplish with low occupancy. This could include the temporary closure of low-traffic areas of hotels (such as F&B outlets), the reduction of costs and staff for non-essential projects and travel, or installing much-needed technology updates such as employee safety devices.

Planning for the Future

We may not have asked for this down period, but we have to play the cards that we’ve been dealt. More importantly, though, is the continued understanding that these circumstances are ultimately temporary. While the evolution and associated timelines of the COVID-19 pandemic are still unclear, there will come a time (whether in two months or six months) when we return to normalcy. Hotels will once again welcome an influx of guests, airports will be busy with travelers in transit, and businesses and consumers alike will once again embrace life as we’ve always known it. Those exciting predictions we had for 2020? Well, they might be paused temporarily, but they will once again be within our grasp. For now, we simply have to keep our eyes trained on that future and, subsequently, we have to find ways to ‘future-proof’ our business. 

 Hoteliers, ask yourself the following:

  1. Can you use this time to go over your operational structure in granular detail?
  2. Can you determine any holes in your service offering and, better yet, formulate a plan to mitigate those service gaps once occupancy increases proactively? 
  3. Can you improve staff training, update staff, and guest resources, develop new offerings, and perform deep cleans and maintenance tasks that have otherwise been neglected? 
  4. Can you offer support and value to your staff and guests? 
  5. Can you perform competitor research?
  6. How can you ensure you hit the ground running when this is all said and done?


Moreover, use this time to get creative, laying the foundation for the marketing initiatives which will guide your property to success once the pandemic has passed. Right now, we are all enduring the same challenges on a global scale. And although travel might currently be off the table, your audience is still there, listening. If anything, they are paying closer attention than ever before. Ultimately, those brands which utilize this time to proactively improve upon their offering, support their community, and emerge a market leader, are sure to make a swift recovery.

 
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28th April 2020

The tourism sector needs to be prepared for considerable changes in consumer demands when restrictions are lifted and demand for travel returns. In particular, the lodging industry needs to be prepared for guests now demanding the highest levels of hygiene and sanitation, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Ralph Hollister, Travel & Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Post-COVID-19, consumers will be likely to place as much importance on hotel hygiene standards as they will on price and location. Fears over contracting the virus will live on far after the pandemic is over. Due to the large scale of many hotels, they naturally encourage gatherings of large amounts of people in relatively confined spaces. Guests will be hyper aware of this fact when hotels re-open.”

According to GlobalData’s COVID-19 consumer survey, 85% of global respondents are either ‘extremely’ or ‘quite’ concerned about the global outbreak of COVID-19.

Hollister continues: “Hotels need to determine a plan of action for deep-cleaning hotel guest rooms, meeting spaces, front desks, restaurants, fitness centers and other public areas. Good hotel hygiene policies need to be implemented across the board such as implementing hand sanitizer stations in convenient locations and ensuring the frequent cleaning of high-touch areas.

“Problems may occur for multinational hotel companies that franchise a high number of their hotels. If ongoing support and training to franchisees is not regular and concise to help them fully grasp new hygiene protocols and operations, standards may fluctuate between hotels, which will create a negative impact on a company’s image.”

 

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