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It is no surprise then that, besides lives, hospitality and foodservice businesses are often some of the largest casualties left in the trail of a global outbreak.

That is why it is critical for businesses to pay attention and take lessons from the industry in order to future-proof their operations for any manner of disaster.

Besides, the indirect impact of the coronavirus on Hospitality industry cannot be easily quantified but, it certainly has a significant loss in the short term as well as long term.

In country’s like Kenya the sector plays a major role in the country’s development as well as its economy.

Today we held a webinar with key players in Kenya’s hospitality industry who were Richie Barrow from Trademark Hotel, Mourine Oloo from Social House, Fesial Hussein of Pallet Café and Mikul Shah of Eat Out Kenya.

So, here are five important lessons gathered from the panellists’ webinar that can help your business moving forward:

Be open and focus on communication – during a mass downturn in business, it’s going to be tough for absolutely everyone.

Don’t keep people as part of your workforce or even as suppliers if you can’t afford to pay them or pay their invoice or even come up with countless excuses as to why you can’t continue working with a supplier.

it’s important to understand your customer better during this period. It’s also important to work together a bit more during this period.In as much as we’re thinking about our clients, you should also put in mind your staff and communicate with them regularly.

An open line of communication will always ensure you and said supplier/partner are on the same team and can work effectively to come up with a fair solution for both parties.

Damaging a relationship with a partner or supplier can also leave you scrambling to make alternative arrangements when it comes time to restart business operations.

During this period companies, not only in the hospitality industry but also in other industries should collaborate and work together as opposed to seeing each other as competition. Collaborating with other key players in your industry will help you understand that a problem you are facing is not unique only to you and you can forge efforts to align and come up with ways to survive.

While it is disheartening to see businesses struggling, it is also important to remember that difficult times are a driver of innovation. Covid-19 is intimidating to be sure, but hoteliers can emerge more resilient and with more lessons to apply to the future.

Work on your Short-term and Midterm Goals and Solutions
No one knows how long the situation will last. However, planning shouldn’t stop. Focus more on mid-term solutions to the current challenges you are facing even as the economy opens up. The economy impact will still be felt across industries years later, and businesses will still take time before they get back to normal.

Make sure you have a plan as to what your business will do in case of a global or even regional downturn in sales.

This will help you to think clearly and avoid making any irrational and potentially damaging decisions. Take each day as it comes and be prepared to adjust your actions according to how events unfold. For now, you would want to keep your long-term goals at bay.

In possible areas consider restructuring your business operations
Some hoteliers have been forced to close some of their branches and in return slightly change their business model due to the social distancing aspect that has reduced the seating capacity in hotels to about 50%.

In such cases, some hotels have opted to new models including doing home deliveries and changing their spaces into pick up points. Still in line with their core business. Events and conferences have been affected as well

It is not time to shut down your business, however with this in mind, restructuring your operations at this period to ensure that you have enough cash coming in to last for a few weeks – at a minimum. You never know how long events will last and how far the ripple effect will carry on.

You can also agree with your employees on working on shifts and with that communicate on pay cuts

Also, pay attention to what others are saying/doing in your space and don’t be afraid to follow along. The herd mentality generally proves right in this instance, as other business owners may have more knowledge or experience in these types of situations.

Maintain service levels
If you need to cut costs, do so in areas of the hotel that have the least impact on customer service and the hotel image. Don’t reduce standards. Add value. Guests are very sensitive to changes. The bad times are not forever and it could take a longer time to recover if you cut corners to save a buck.

If customer satisfaction and service quality are negatively affected, it will be more difficult to both maintain your current guests and attract new guests after the recession is over.

If you must discount, do so in an intelligent way and consider creative packaging that add value to the consumer without costing the hotel too much. Think about what customers want. Also, focus in on packages that are unique anyone can offer an extra night for free, so try to develop packages that are exclusive to your hotel.

This applys’ to other industries. As opposed to price wars, companies should collaborate and ensure that they keep the quality of their products to drive value.

Adhere to Government precautions
As hard as it may look now, it is equally important that companies in the hospitality or even in other industries adhere to Government precautions and regulations towards the fight against COVID 19.

We all have a responsibility to do our best, stay safe and follow the recommended measures. From, social distancing to maintaining hygiene levels, companies should work towards ensuring they are at the forefront in the fight against COVID 19.

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