The Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on the travel and hospitality industry means changes and opportunities for your business. Here are 10 tips and some business advice for how hospitality managers can respond.
Not since the 2008 financial crisis has there been more uncertainty for business owners. The global spread of coronavirus is causing a massive shift in how hospitality managers are able to operate their businesses, affecting demand, finances, regulations and staffing. With so many variables it can be easy to lose track of what’s vital to keeping your business going, but there are steps managers should be taking right now in order to help their business through this crisis and be set up for success as we return to normal.
The list below offers some specific advice to weather the impacts of coronavirus, but the core concepts are to get informed, get back to basics, and identify opportunities. Before diving in, take a minute to think about three strengths you and your business have even if they are currently being affected by the crisis. In times of stress it’s easy to focus on the negative, but your company didn’t get this far without doing a lot of things right. Don’t lose focus on what’s been working while being open to adapting those strengths for the current market.
1. Get informed - There’s a ton of resources for businesses with advice and assistance for businesses regarding the coronavirus. Check out the U.S. Chamber of Commerces Small Business Coronavirus Guide, the U.S. Small Business Association Resources page, as well as searching for assistance based on the state(s) in which you operate. If you are still operating, the CDC has guidelines for businesses running throughout the crisis. Don’t let the information overwhelm you, just know it’s out there to help you as you make decisions about what’s best for your business.
2. Hit the Books - Accounting isn’t the sexiest aspect to running a business, but now is the time to dive into what expenses are worth keeping and identifying sources of revenue that can be bolstered. Are you paying for a service that you don’t need right now? Can you work with your business partners to restructure contracts and payments that provide a benefit to both parties?
3. Follow Up with Overdue Billing - Are there any outstanding accounts receivable owed to your business? Follow up on past-due bills or look into collection agencies that might offer a percentage upfront to buy the debt. Is it worth trading the full payment for cash that you need now?
4. Work with your Partners - The economic impact of coronavirus is being felt across much of the economy. Have discussions with your suppliers, landlords, and anyone else you do business regularly with to see if there are ways of restructuring your agreements at least temporarily. Anyone you pay out to on a regular basis has a stake in the success of your business too.
5. Extra Credit - Good credit is built for times like these. With historically low interest rates, it might be time to take a loan to keep the business afloat. Just be sure to balance the need for immediate cash against having to pay it back in the future.
6. Government Assistance - Does your business meet the qualifications necessary to receive state or federal assistance? Can your business be used in the response to coronavirus? Apply for assistance and lobby your state and federal representatives with specific requests of how they can help. You’re probably not the only business asking the government to make some changes that will benefit you and the industry.
7. Take Care of your Employees - Some government loans are dependent on keeping staff employed or bringing them back as soon as possible so make sure to weigh staffing decisions carefully. How else can you leverage your staff to provide value to the company? Is someone who works for you doing good work right now to assist in the crisis, make sure to give them a shout out on social media. They deserve the credit and it will keep your business, and the people it supports, in your customers’ minds.
8. Get Creative - How can you use your businesses unique advantages to assist in the crisis? Even if there’s no immediate profit in providing help during these extraordinary times, people remember your good work and there’s free advertising to be had for companies that contribute to the good news that people are craving right now.
9. Keep an Eye on the Competition - You probably follow the competition already, but now’s a crucial time to keep track of them. Maybe there are joint efforts that you can participate in, ask them to join in on your lobbying campaign, or, if they’re not taking the steps necessary to survive, there might be an opportunity to expand your business with a buyout.
10. Look to the Future - Somewhere there’s a list of things that you wish you could do to improve your business. What can you do to make your business more flexible and easy to manage as pent-up demand returns to the market? Have you implemented a PMS system that enables you to offer the right rate to the right customer, communicate effectively, and stay on top of your business with analysis and AI insights? Now might be a great time to familiarize yourself with digital solutions that will help you to grow and expand your business as the market resets.
Different companies will need different approaches in their coronavirus response, and the list above is a starting point to inspire solutions that fit your business. Keep in mind what makes your business a strong competitor and lean in or adapt that strength to fit the present moment.