The global apprehension of the coronavirus has caused radical shifts in the Indian hospitality industry. The slump has impacted the overall economy, but hospitality has been the worst hit. It is now evident that we are at least 2-4 years away from getting back to normal or the pre-Covid situation.
Focus is on sanitization
AGILE businesses have a PLAN B and are WILLING to adapt to the changing demands, the same applies to hotels and restaurants too. Those that are quick to take steps to enhance the guest experience & well-being are the ones who will make hay when the sun shines.
Post lockdown, the hospitality industry experienced extreme changes. While restaurant and hotels adapted to the new normal in response to the Pandemic's unusual exigencies, guest expectations and tastes changed too.
The sector focused on providing seamless and outstanding hospitality while introducing contactless service, a pre-requisite in the world of social distancing. Many hospitality chains made an additional investment in innovative cleaning technology such as electrostatic disinfection misters and ultraviolet light interventions, for the welfare of their guests and staff.
Bearing the loss
Financial losses have caused 30% of establishments in this sector to shut down the shops as per the report of the Hotel and Restaurant Association (Western India). About 20% of the facilities have not been able to commence full operations, to date. The majority are working with deficits and sales that are less than half of their pre-COVID levels.
The spike in the increasing number of COVID cases over the last month bodes more bad news for the sector. With public places once again being closed down or attendance curtailed, the hospitality industry is readying to brave a new blow.
So, what can the hospitality industry do differently to lessen the blow of this new wave of the pandemic?
Well, for one, they cannot afford to be lax. The health and sanitation measures that they have introduced in their establishments have to be stringently followed. Hotels and restaurants need to give their guests the confidence that they care, demonstrably doing their utmost to provide them with a safe haven.
Getting everything arranged
Improving discipline among staff is another in terms of using masks and gloves. What maybe be needed besides would be an extension of a certain amount of this discipline with guests. “Atithi Devo Bhava” a practice the Indian hospitality industry follows diligently across the length and breadth of the country and is well-known around the world, may need some tweaking in its implementation. In the pursuit of excelling in guest satisfaction, the industry fails miserably to enforce safety rules when it comes to the guests, which could have contributed to the rise in COVID numbers. Ensuring maximum safety standards for the guests - be it wearing masks, temperature checks, and minimum human contact while taking orders and payments by enabling the services on the guests' mobile devices are some measures that are already in place.
Beverages biz needs to adapt new tech
The glass rim is one spot on the glass touched by nearly every person while having a drink! Many of us find the use of straws as a way to avoid touching the rim while sipping. Have you considered the cleanliness of straws? Because of their inherent ability to retain moisture, paper straws can host germs when being stored in open containers before use. Not to mention the other disadvantages of paper straws.
Is there another alternative? Well, while a few months back, the answer would have been no, but today there are options available. Instead of straws, it is preferable to have drinking shields for all drinks. They come in sterilized packaging, and by placing it on the rim of the glass/cup, the drinking shield assures the guests to be confident of a safe and hygienic sip without the apprehensions of possible cross-contamination. The introduction of the drinking shield to the table cutlery goes a long way in assuring the guests that the establishment cares and is willing to go the extra mile.
Employee safety is key
Another area the hotels and restaurants need to extend themselves is employee well-being. The new working norms need to be re-evaluated for quality, with the "employee wellness" lens. An abundant supply of safety kits, regular health checks, illness support, and measures are needed to keep them and the guests safe & healthy.
As Charles Darwin stated once: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change." Though the industry is working hard to ensure the welfare of its guests and employees, the pandemic is forcing the industry to manage, live, and respond to the uncertainty and risk associated with this global health incident. Enterprises in the hospitality sector should work with the best technical service providers to maintain a foolproof digital transformational plan for the future.
It is thus mandatory for the industry to adapt to revive.