The hospitality industry has established itself as one of the major contributors to the economy. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world in unpredictable ways, and all the sectors of the economy have been affected in some way or the other. Lockdown, isolation, and social distancing rules have been implemented across the world, leading to the closure of malls, tourist spots, and other public spaces.
This has affected the hospitality industry at its worst because, as compared to the daily visitations of customers before the spread of this pandemic, the hotels are seeing no visitations which have been continued for months now. With the high chances of communicability of this disease and people being quarantined in their respective homes, the hotels are witnessing zero almost revenues over all the expenses of maintenance and other fixed costs that they have to bear.
The hospitality industry is interconnected with multiple services and an effect on them has affected this industry as well and vice-versa. With the cancellation of flights and trains, closing down of all the tourist places, and slowing down of businesses, the hotel bookings have seen huge cancellations, along with no further bookings being made, causing a domino effect on smaller sectors like travel agency, taxi drivers, traditional shops, and vendors, among other stakeholders.
The travel restrictions on international flights have led to a monumental loss to the global airline industry. The loss to this industry has brought the mobility level significantly low due to which the hospitality industry is harshly suffering. Nevertheless, the hospitality sector is taking the pandemic situation in its stride and has offered its premises to house medical staff, first responders, and hospital patients not suffering from coronavirus.
However, the hospitality industry, which is one of the most adversely affected sectors during the pandemic, will soon need assistance from the governments to survive in these harsh times. Some of the European governments like France, Switzerland, Germany, and others have promised to aid local businesses adversely affected by the pandemic and are willing to spend millions of euros in saving them. These businesses have also planned upon increasing their efficiency to enhance their productivity in the future, along with finding innovative ways to deal with the current situation. However, small family businesses like cafes, bistros, small hotels or inns, pubs and clubs, restaurants, and others are going to be majorly hit by the blow of COVID-19 to the extent of even getting shut down completely. The huge losses faced by these businesses will ultimately reflect on the overall economy.
However, even if the fate of the hospitality industry is rather bleak in the time of this crisis, that does not mean no plans or strategies should be adopted or worked upon for the present and future. The effectiveness of these strategies will help the hospitality industry to be up and running in the future. Owing to the importance of customer-provider relationship, regaining the confidence of the customers will be the first thing to consider. Regular sanitation that used to suffice earlier will not be relied upon by the customers anymore due to the fear of high disease communicability. Therefore, strict sanitation and hygiene measures will have to be adhered to. More regularity and sincerity in serving the customers, and strict monitoring and controlling of the business environment will also be required.
The behavioural changes in the consumers in terms of the increased consciousness and anxiety will have to be addressed by both the bigger players of the hospitality industry as well as the small businesses and will require a necessary change at the employer level. With the customers being more cautious, the businesses will have to adapt to the emerging trends in the work practices quickly. The employees will have to be trained specially and will have to be monitored even more strictly. This increases the responsibility and liability of the employer even more in order to rebuild a relationship with the customers.
The current situation has also brought new business models and opportunities, for instance, new delivery concepts, human capital sharing platforms, initiatives in promoting the “staycation or holistay concept,” and the use of the less productive time to work on activities that were normally pushed back such as security plans, asset counts, defining standard operating procedures, social media plans, and others. The industry is witnessing a slight revival in Asia, and post the pandemic is expected to bounce back with heightened hygiene regulations and new business models that are ready to tackle any other such pandemic in the future.