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  • INDUSTRY INSIGHT: Managing a hotel after lockdown

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
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    INDUSTRY INSIGHT: Managing a hotel after lockdown

    In the wake of the forced hibernation the industry has experienced in recent weeks, hotels are now making plans to re-open. But what will the ‘new normal’ look like? Rocco Bova, the general manager of Chable’ Yucatan, investigates hospitality post-lockdown…

    While I honestly detest the fact that we will now have to provide a personalised, luxury experiences while wearing masks, gloves, shields and possibly even protective clothing, we so however need to get used to this new normal, at least until we will have more relaxed guidelines from the respective government’s health authorities.

    The provision and wearing of PPE for staff is a minimum standard as it is the increased frequency of cleaning and sanitising to provide a healthy environment to guests, however my focus as a general manager will be more towards enhancing soft skills, EQ (emotional intelligence) and empathy, as part of my training and supervision of my team.

    I forecast a higher level of concerns from our guests when travelling and therefore we will need to be ready to read their behaviour already at the arrival or even before, should we receive, for example, detailed email on what procedures we are using to sanitise our premises.

    This means that they will come with much higher expectations, and we will need to manage them if we want to succeed in having them as ambassadors once more.

    Image caption: Guest expectations will be higher in all areas of the hotel, but particularly in the F&B and public spaces. | Image credit: Chable’ Yucatan

    The risk of losing the reputation is too high, particularly when the health and safety of a person can be at risk. Therefore, now is the time to show to our guests what and how we are doing to protect their health and overall wellbeing.

    Here is where the EQ comes into action, where we listen and observe with empathy and we respond kindly to give comfort and respect. What do we know if this particular guest lost a loved one to COVID–19? If so, their response is quite normal and we should not dismiss them as exaggerated or overreacting. We need to know what, when and how to do it. Regardless of the rate paid, the new normal is an expected readiness and professional response from all us hoteliers globally.

    In addition to the operational precautions and adaptive protocols, now more than ever, management needs to be visible for both staff and guests.

    Staff need directions and supervision, as well as encouragement and motivation, and this can only be done in presence, face-to-face (maintaining the due distance) and with a positive behaviour, so that they can transmit it to the guests.

    Guests, too, need to see management around and they want to make sure there is enough supervision and control over the new standards and ensure the correct procedures are applied all along their stay beside being able to speak to a senior member of the hotel in case they will encounter something inappropriate.

    To us, it will offer the opportunity to check the pulse of the guests, continuously, watch their body language, ask with subtlety what their expectations are and how we have been doing so we are prepared to change the course of actions if needs be.

    While I am preparing for all this as we tentatively look to reopen in June, I am also reflecting on something. Why did we not do anything like this to protect our staff and guests alike during SARS, MERS, ZIKA, malaria and other transmissible diseases? I don’t have an answer, but I am encouraged that the industry is taking action so that we can once again provide exceptional experiences for our guests.

    Main image credit: Chable’ Yucatan

    Hamish Kilburn / 28.05.2020

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