A big blow from Covid-19 Outbreak and 5 month prolonged Lockdown has hit Hotel Industry severely when this sector was preparing to start another year of significant growth. Covid-19 has brought the unprecedented crisis because of the collapse in tourism industry without any national and international tourists.
According to Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, because of the lockdown, Nepal Tourism Industry is estimated to lose approx $400millon (Approx 48 Billion Nepalese Rupees) by the end of July, which is increasing by NRs 33 crore daily during the lockdown. Also, According to experts, the crisis in tourism sector will remain until 2021 even if the lockdown ends as unlike other industries, the hospitality and tourism sector is such that it cannot restart until tourist gets confidence to travel again.
Apart from the financial loss, 3,00,000 Workers of Hotel industry associated with Hotel Association of Nepal are badly suffered due to the shutdown where they are sent home and allowed to get only 12.5 percent of their basic salary.
Undoubtedly, this is a difficult time for Industry as a whole but this crisis can be an opportunity in disguise. Travel has come to halt for now but travellers are dreaming to their next escape when restrictions are lifted.
There are different methods Hotels can use to recover after travel ban is lifted. Use of Health & Safety measures: To ensure health and safety of all guest and staff, hotels need to implement new policies for guest interaction. Hotel should include social distancing floor management and use of sanitizer, wipes and mask to all guests. Cleanliness and Use of disinfections in key areas of hotel rooms will be the necessity after lockdown. Similarly, in food service, the furniture set up need to be adjusted for social distancing and “Grab and Go” option should be included.
Digitalization for better hotel experience: From Digital room keys, Self Service check-in and check-out and contactless payment solution, Hoteliers must ensure that least human contact is required.
Shift to digital marketing channels: Hoteliers can’t afford to disappear at this time. They have to be visible and continue to use major digital channels including emails and social media to engage to their customer. Effective digital and social media strategies must be rolled out as part of the communication plan to create an appealing hotel experience.
Fix Website and focus on data driven marketing: Due to increase in internet access in people of Nepal, Hotelier should work on quality mobile friendly website with value based content to the consumer. Also company should work on Search Engine Optimization and online review management. Use of customer data should be encouraged to predict customer’s need and desire.
Focus on Local: Due to the restriction and uncertainties, International travellers are less likely to travel in near future and local travellers will be the first to explore. So, hoteliers should promote their marketing plans including local tourism packages to Nepalese customer. Special experiential packages and promotions targeted at ‘locals’ should be the driving mantra now.
Maintenance and Upgrade: This outbreak does not mean hoteliers are closing doors and just waiting for the normal situation. This is the best time to utilise on implementing maintenance and renovation to make sure everything in the property works perfectly.
Be Careful with Pricing: Reducing the Price too low is not the best solution as it will cost the branding of the company. Hotel can go with discounts and offers. It is noticeable that demand will not be related to price and travellers will choose their hotels based on other factors than room being at lowest price.