Times may be tough, but they've brought us all together in unexpected ways. As we forge ahead, let’s be mindful of the good deeds and helping hands that will get us through this downturn.
In this edition of our new weekly blog series, Good Works and Great Ideas, which we publish every Friday, we’ll address how some hotels are helping their employees and their guests during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll also take a look at ways hotels can stay visible on sourcing networks and via search during this downturn.
How major hotel brands are helping their employees during COVID-19
Because of coronavirus, many hotels have had to lay off and temporarily cut staff. To assist their employees during this time, some have set up GoFundMe pages. Hilton, though, has gone one step further. They’re partnering with major companies around the country that are actively hiring short-term employees, like Amazon and CVS, to place staff who have been furloughed.
"When we learned other leading companies were stepping up their hiring to meet pandemic-related demand, Hilton was eager to partner with them to provide expedited access to opportunities for our team members," says Hilton President and CEO, Christopher J. Nassetta.
Other hotel brands are following suit: MGM Resorts has set up an Emergency Employee Fund to keep staff at MGM Resorts paid while they close their doors due to COVID-19. Noteworthy donors include entertainers Jay Leno and Ray Romano. Wyndham also recently announced a partnership to provide team members whose positions have been furloughed or eliminated access to full-time, part-time, or temporary positions at retail, grocery, senior living, and other sectors. They’re also working with the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) to make available additional relevant job opportunities for affected hospitality professionals.
Additionally, as part of its Hospitality for Hope Initiative, AHLA is offering free resources for the month of April to help industry employees further their education at no cost during this unplanned hiatus.
Hotels offer virtual classes and experiences for guests in lieu of on-site activities
Instead of their usual on-site activities, many hotels are offering free virtual classes. They’re adapting to new circumstances and engaging with guests online and teaching them new skills – all at no cost. Entertainment and class options include things like Cornell-approved virtual kids’ camps, a pasta-making class with an Italian chef, and Zoom art talks.
Gurney's Resorts in Montauk, NY and Newport, RI are family-centered waterfront getaways, focused on sustainability and education. Last year, Gurney's Star Island in Montauk partnered with the Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program to create Camp Gurney’s – a custom youth education program.
Now, the brand has launched a virtual experiences campaign called #GoneHomeWithGurneys, featuring weekly digital lessons for kids, wellness tips, meditations, recipes, and more. The Cornell Marine Program is also part of the virtual campaign, and they're providing weekly digital lessons for kids with hands-on learning opportunities on topics like water quality, habitat, aquaculture, and fisheries.
All programming will be streamed on the @gurneyresorts social channel, via Instagram stories and static posts.
Hotel adds virus-killing robots to its cleaning protocol
The Westin Houston Medical Center – located near the largest medical complex in the world – took swift action as the pandemic was in its early stages by adding virus-killing robots to enhance the property’s disinfectant process.
The Westin Houston Medical Center is the first U.S. hotel to use this kind of decontaminating technology – called LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robots. By using intense pulsed xenon ultraviolet light, the robots kill viruses, bacteria, and fungi, and are in use across hundreds of healthcare facilities as part of infection prevention programs.
In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, Archit Sanghvi, vice president of operations for Pearl Hospitality, said that the Westin Houston Medical Center added two LightStrike robots to enhance its current disinfectant protocol.
“As a hotel located in the world’s largest medical center, we are in a unique situation, especially in this time of uncertainty,” Sanghvi said. “To provide our guests and clients with an additional level of wellbeing, we decided to add another step to our current disinfectant protocol by implementing the germ-zapping UV light robots.”
Swiss hotel offers luxury quarantine package
Le Bijou, a high-end Swiss hospitality company that is part luxury hotel, part serviced apartment, has adapted their offerings in a creative way. They provide a COVID-19 service — a customizable stay with add-ons like in-room coronavirus testing, doctor visits, and 24/7 nurse care.
They’ve been getting requests from people who want to stay in an upscale place where they can cook their own food, hire doctors for house calls, or otherwise receive attention for their medical needs outside of a hospital. In response, Le Bijou now offers quarantine-friendly perks like automated check-in and in-room medical services from a private Swiss health clinic.
Other hotels in different regions around the world are offering self-quarantine packages with reduced rates for 14-day stays, no-contact food delivery and room service, and transportation to local hospitals when necessary.
Great ideas from CSN insights:
Planners are still planning
As good works help us weather the storm, great ideas empower us to thrive and move toward a better day. Our great idea to focus on this week is staying visible on sourcing networks and via search because last month, about $1 billion in sourcing value flowed through the Cvent Supplier Network (CSN).
Even though large gatherings and in-person events are on an indefinite hold, planners are still planning and sourcing for future events. Smaller events saw a drastic decrease, and larger events of 100 or more attendees increased in share – meaning, sourcing value is more robust than sourcing volume. Make sure you keep your CSN profile up-to-date with critical information planners are looking for as they continue to submit RFPs for future events and check in to see if your hotel is active.
Events are shifting to later in the year
While March did see a surge in RFP withdrawals as planners had to cancel or postpone events, April saw withdrawals at a level more similar to what we’re used to seeing at this point in the year. This could indicate that planners may be being more judicious now and are making sure they're confident of the event happening before submitting an RFP.
Since mid-March, the sourcing that has taken place is oriented toward events for September-December 2020 and into 2021 – in fact, it’s in a way that's highly unusual for this early in the year. We’re seeing the longest average booking windows we’ve ever seen. So it’s important for hoteliers to be looking ahead now – safe meetings and events are coming, and hotels should be visible and active so that they get that business.
RFP response rates are down – but the opportunities are there
It’s also important to note that hotel response rates to RFPs are down. Hotels are responding to RFPs, but not as well as they typically do. Rates dropped from 95% to 85%, reflecting furloughs and layoffs that have cut hotel sales staff. With about $2 billion in sourcing value in Q2, hotels need to focus on the opportunities they're getting in order to revive their businesses when their hotels open up. At Cvent, we’re doing anything we can to help hotels cope with resource shortages, including providing assistance where needed with responding to RFPs.
Webinar – The Cvent Source: Group Business Insights
We host a series of monthly webinars dedicated to providing insights – just like the ones above – on the group business landscape as you plan for a rebound to your meetings and events business.
The webinars are based on proprietary data from the Cvent Supplier Network (CSN), overall meetings and events trends, and observations from proven third-party experts in the hospitality space. We also include inspiring stories about the good works and great ideas currently driving the hospitality community forward.
To see what else hoteliers are doing to help, check out last week's post: How hotels are supporting healthcare workers. And be sure to check back every Friday for up-to-date insights.