The key factors which will support a strong comeback from COVID
One of the worst hit business sectors was Hospitality as occupancy rates plummeted by as much as 95%. Luxury, mid-range, budget range – all were severely impacted. Room occupancy rates aside, café’s, restaurants and meeting facilities closed, bringing further pain to the industry.
Followers of Calla Woods will have read our piece from March 2020 identifying low cost opportunities to capitalize on the unforeseen downtime. Many businesses got in touch for assistance and implemented these low-cost upgrades.
As the clouds begin to rise after COVID-19, now could be the best time to take on some larger scale refurbishments as the hospitality world commences its preparation for guests with additional expectations.
Pre COVID-19, the output of the construction industry was at levels never seen before. There were more skilled workers, technological advancements, and sophisticated business practices in the market than at any point in the industries history. Developers and operators may never have such an opportunity to negotiate a very competitive price for renovation works.
This, coupled with the unwanted low occupancy, provides a great opportunity for hoteliers. Previously, opportunities to renovate hotels, restaurants and bars were challenging to schedule because they posed a major risk to occupancy and brand loyalty if timed incorrectly. One of those factors is now temporarily manageable.
Three key considerations for renovations in this new environment are:
1. Design: Social Distancing will be normal in all public spaces for the foreseeable future. Whilst it will impact all hotel operations, F&B will be the hardest hit. The design of salad bars, buffet breakfasts and crowded dining rooms must be revisited to provide a comfortable environment for guests. Revisiting the flow and movement of guests can help this as will improved BOH kitchen layouts. Open kitchens may become a thing of the past. In more public spaces, prolonged queuing and large gatherings must be managed but not at the risk of discouraging guests from using revenue generating facilities.
2. Maintenance: Choice of materials should be driven by low maintenance, high durability and value for money. Low maintenance must now be reconsidered to address the surge in cleaning between check ins. Where possible, detachable elements can be incorporated to built in furniture to allow quick and easy cleaning and where necessary, quick replacement. Intricate design details which in the past have contributed to ‘hard to reach’ places must be eliminated so housekeeping staff can focus on the high touch guest areas.
3. Technology: In room, touch screen technology was the future. Under the current circumstances, should hotels revisit this? Perhaps now is the time to convert to motion sensor lighting and sanitary fixtures. Voice activated in room entertainment and voice activated front desk communication is available and much further advanced than even 3 years ago.
This is an unprecedented time for the Hotel and F&B sector. Unfortunately, many have not survived and more will follow. Those brands with a history of adapting to changing environments may well thrive as the world moves forward post COVID-19. For the brands who may lack tradition or history, there is an opportunity to move quickly and take market share. The likelihood is that millennial's and business travelers will be first out of the blocks in this new age of travel and therefore become the No. 1 target market.
Calla Woods have extensive experience delivering projects within the Hospitality, F&B and Residential sectors. We can help with the Planning, Design and Delivery of these projects.
Prepared by Michael Barry - Managing Director Calla Woods Ltd.