Our country is together fighting an unparalleled problem and sadly, our industry is hit the hardest. We need to now look at growth restarting from ground zero, taking calculated steps to overcome this situation. The confidence of our guests in our safety & hygiene procedures is going to be a new luxury. Showcasing of the steps that are being undertaken to keep our environment safe and sanitized for them will be vital.
Realigning & reimagining the hygiene standards that are going to be practiced would be the key to survival and quick recovery. Contactless services from check in to check out and digitized menus to contactless payments will be the new features that every guest will be looking for in this ‘new normal’. Tapping the domestic market demand especially for rooms, mice business and social get togethers will play a crucial role in the hotel business as demand from the international sector will take at least a few more months to revive.
When it comes to food, the future is going be focused on fresh cooking derived from local produce (farm to fork concept). Menus are going to be contactless, smaller, and simpler and will be rotated/changed more often. Buffet services will be avoided for the next few months, and there will be a focus on set menus which will be served on the table. Adding immunity booster food options in the menus would be a smarter choice as guests these are very self aware. As most are facing entire income streams being lost, businesses have to prioritize lessening of costs and cash flow management. Ancillary services like thermally disinfected laundry and contactless home delivery are areas that can prove to be vital sources of income in the times ahead.
As far as associates are concerned, Personal Protective Equipment will be the most important part of new grooming basics. Rigorous training on new normal especially hygiene standards and sanitization and disinfection processes will be a vital part of life. Given that COVID-19 awareness for hospitality professionals is a vital, various online modules for associates covering training on precautions to be taken and procedures that establishments should ensure will be part of weekly assessments, this includes trainings on receiving of raw materials, guest services, lobby management, and room maintenance after the lockdown is lifted.
Day to day operations in the hotels will change drastically in all areas with newer standards coming into place. These standards are more significant to the new normal and are pivotal in building guest confidence post lockdown.
Rooms: From the front porch to guest rooms, multiple touch points have been identified for proper cleaning and disinfection processes, starting from disinfecting the car to the luggage and contactless in room check-in. Mobile key card will replace the physical forms and room keys`. 10 High touch points have been identified in the rooms – Door handle, Switch buttons, Remote control, AC controls, Faucet handle, Flush handler & seat cover, Toilet cover roll, phone handset, Chair armrest, Hair dryer handle are areas in the room where rigorous cleaning and santization process will be followed.
Food &Beverage: Contactless dining experiences with QR code linked digitized menus and tap & go payment options, social distancing in restaurant layouts, protective gear for associates and guests, buffet replaced by personalized set menus to be served on the table. Buffet if any, will only be of assisted service and no more self-service with dedicated resources trained to change their protective gear on regular intervals. Going forward we will get to see a lot more hand sanitizing stations in and around the critical touch points of the restaurants.
Heart of the House: Heart of the house areas will be very critical and all the measures are being put in place to ensure associate’s hygiene and safety. Starting from the associate entrance with thermal temperature check and Aaroyagya setu app status check before they enter the hotel, followed by increasing focus on locker room hygiene. Every associate has to undergo the mandatory trainings to familiarize him/herself with the new processes. We have leveraged the expertise of our hygiene partners to train our associates both in theoretically and practically on the same.
As sanitation will be highly important post lockdown, multiple measures will be put in place to ensure all the new guidelines set up by Government bodies and WHO are being followed in our day to day operations and will be a part of the enhanced standards in the hotels as the ‘new normal’. One of the key positions that have been defined as extremely critical is the role of the Hygiene Manager. This dedicated individual will be responsible for liaising with government bodies and WHO to ensure that hotels are aligned and adhering to all the required procedures. Protective equipment and temperature check for guests and associates will be new norm before entering in the hotel.
Amendment in service style including mobile check-in, elevator guidelines, contactless dining experiences in restaurants and introduction of set menus instead of buffet. In case of any buffet requirements, assisted buffet service will be offered, avoiding multiple guests’ contact.
Association with reputed and recommended disinfectant partners will replace regular cleaning agents in the hotels, ensuring the required hygiene for guests and associates. Hygiene partners will periodically audit the areas, promising the hygiene and safety practices across all the departments. Modification of department wise hotel SOPs’ (Standard operating procedures) to cover all the relevant points, area wise post lockdown. From guests entrance to checkout, high touch areas are going to be highlighted and intensive cleaning process will be followed for the same.