It’s no secret that the hospitality industry has been hit hard with the current pandemic we are dealing with. From vacant hotel rooms to empty restaurants, sales have plummeted since the outbreak of Covid-19. Some businesses, especially small, are barely surviving. While we are all required to abide by the stay-at-home order that the government placed, the hospitality industry is considered essential. We are the ones that provide shelter and food for individuals. Let’s take a look and see what our industry has done to help market themselves and stay in business during this unpredictable time.
Due to the stay-at-home order and people being cautious, people are not taking vacations or staying at hotels for that matter. Hotels are one sector of our industry that got hit the worse. Most hotel sales have dropped at least 50% and many of them decided to shut their doors. We all know how expensive it is to operate a hotel from paying employees to electricity. There are so many things that go into the business to keep it running so imagine not being able to even get close to making a profit. Although the hotels that are closed are not making any money, they aren’t losing as much if they stayed open with no occupancy. Most of the hotels that decided to shut down are small hotels that cannot survive to keep their doors open at this time. As for some larger, bigger chain hotels, they are doing more to keep their doors open while also helping their communities as well.
Although people are not thinking of marketing at this time, helping your community through this pandemic is one of the best ways. Over 15,000 hotels signed up for “Hospitality for Hope”, which pairs the hotels up with government agencies that are in need. It offers housing for emergency and health care workers to work through the pandemic. Some of the hotels in other countries offer housing for people that do not need intensive medical care but need to be quarantined. Some large hotel chains like the Hilton and Marriott are donating rooms to medical workers such as doctors and nurses. Most hotels, like Hyatt, are offering discounted rates to essential workers.
Besides essential workers, there are many other jobs that get affected during this time. Most people are now working from home. If you have younger children, you can only imagine how difficult that can be. Red Roof launched a new program under the name “Work Under Our Roof”. Working from home can be difficult for conference calls or Zoom meetings if you do not have a quiet atmosphere to work from. This program was created so that people working remotely can have the perfect environment to work effectively without interruptions. They offer a daily rate as low as $29. Not only are these hotels helping our community, but they are also helping stay in business as well as market it for the future.
Another sector of the hospitality industry that has been affected is food and beverages. People are not going out to places, let alone sitting at a restaurant to eat. Most restaurants have already closed their seating areas, but they are offering to-go orders and delivery. Before this pandemic, some restaurants weren’t offering any delivery, but now, almost all are using these services. Most of these restaurants are also offering free delivery for a certain amount spent. People are cooking at home to save money and time. So, offering to-go orders and delivery will encourage people to spend more during a time where there is not a lot of foot traffic.
What else is helping businesses drive sales? As I mentioned before, helping your community is the best way to market your business. Some restaurants are offering free food or beverages to health care providers. This not only helps our essential workers with an appreciation for their work, but it draws in business. If you think about it, when coming in for their free item, something else on the menu might intrigue them, causing them to purchase something else as well.
Starbucks is offering a complimentary hot/iced coffee for health care providers. Speaking from experience, the people coming in don’t usually just get one item. Most of the time, they get something to eat and more drinks for coworkers as well. Sales have dropped significantly during this time and that is one thing that really helps with the business. Other businesses offering complementary items to healthcare providers are Burger King and McDonald's. Not only does this bring in more business but wanting to appreciate our essential workers says a lot about the company. People look at the business in a different way when they’re doing something amazing like this for the community.
Some restaurants are getting more creative and are helping communities in a different way. Many restaurants are donating food to people in need. For example, many people depended on school lunches so instead of food going to waste because of the halt in business, donating is a great way to help your community. Some restaurants, although still helping their community, are thinking of other ways to make money. Some restaurants offer food or supplies at a discounted rate. For example, Lazy Dog has a bundle that includes toilet paper, food, and other essential items for $40. This really helps people that have to budget during this time.
Restaurants and hotels are an important part of our industry and this pandemic has affected these two sectors horrifically. Some businesses aren’t able to keep their doors open anymore, but some are doing great things to help our community. As this pandemic continues, businesses are getting more creative and finding other ways to stay open.
What else do you think they will do? How long do you think this will help their business survive and why?
About the Author
Konica Chhin is a junior at the Collins College of Hospitality Management at Cal Poly Pomona. For the past seven years, she has been working at Starbucks and has also worked at a sushi restaurant. Although she has experienced only in food and beverage, her passion is in event planning, and she hopes to pursue this career in the future. She is currently a part of the management team at her job and is enthusiastic that this will help her manage a planning crew in her future. Her problem-solving skills and positive attitude is why she is so passionate about taking this career path after graduation. Collins has taught her many things that deepen her passion for this industry.