Dutch hotels have been hit hard by the corona crisis, even though they were allowed to keep their doors opened the past few months. Due to travel restrictions in and outside of the country, bookings reached levels of less than 10 percent at the height of the crisis early April, when usually the occupancy rate is more than 85 percent.
Now that the restrictions are being relaxed and tourists are welcomed again, the hotels can’t wait to welcome their guests with open arms again. But how can this be done when the 1,5 meter distance must be observed and practiced right from the start at check-in itself, for both guests and staff? Or when your guests are being bothered with several personal questions before they can enjoy their breakfast?
From June onwards, the same RIVM guidelines apply to hotels as for bars and restaurants. This already starts at check-in, and both guests and staff must keep 1,5 meter distance at all time and place. This means -in most cases- that less receptionists can be present behind the counter at the same time, which can lead to longer cues. What’s more, documents and room keys go back and forth between guest and staff.
Next, housekeeping is not allowed to enter the rooms when guests are present. This is usually not the case but, in the old situation, many contact moments happened anyway. Moreover, adjustments will be made to the walking routes within the hotel to minimise contact between guests.
And what about the restaurant? All groups must be asked whether they belong to the same household. Only then groups of 3 or more can be placed together at one table. This and the health check will likely cause walkthrough delays. This in turn can cause jams at the restaurant’s entrance. Clarifying new walking routes to guests is important as well.
Hotels clearly need to make a lot of internal adjustments to comply with the new guidelines, which puts pressure on staff, but also on the guest’s experience. Besides this, hotels can profit from finding out how to earn more money per reservation to proceed to recovery quicker, within the limitations of the guidelines. Think of offering room service to guests who prefer to have their breakfast, lunch, or dinner in their room. Or organising the restaurant’s time slots as efficiently as possible.
These are all recognisable challenges, , in which Dirk Taselaar, founder of Lacoly, has been working on for a while and they are more relevant than ever now. “In the hotel industry, there’s still a lot to be achieved when it comes to innovation. We’ve already started working on this long before COVID19, but because of the crisis. we see even more possibilities and the need for the use of clever technology.”
“Things like check-ins can already be done in a much simpler way without the hotel having to change a lot. Hotels that work with room passes or NTC locks can skip this step completely. We’ve been developing this, while never losing sight of the guest experience. That should never be reduced by these kinds of improvements.”
“Moreover, the new guidelines give clarity to the guests necessary. I’m glad that hotel staff has been informed well by KHN about the guidelines, but I’m more worried about the guests. They need to know what to expect. Hence, we communicate with guests (on behalf of the hotel) way before arrival. Then we can explain to them how check-in works, what the walking route in the hotel looks like, and check if guests would like to book a table in the restaurant in one of the time slots or if they would like to eat in their room.”
During their stay, communication can be done mainly digitally as well. “Why should there be direct contact to organise things? We ask guests via the platform if housekeeping can enter the room, instead of knocking on the door. This way, we can also easily share information about activities in the area that are possible within the current guidelines. These are all clever solutions to make guests and staff feel safe, without compromising the guest’s experience or safety.”
Lacoly understands what hotels need at the moment: operate as well as possible, despite the strict measures, and focus on recovery as quickly as possible. Something that, according to Dirk Taselaar, fits perfectly with Lacoly’s technology. “We are a young and flexible company. We keep a close eye on the latest (corona) developments and continue to provide hotels with new and clever technologies to take part in modern times.”