Some hoteliers hit the pause button in March 2020 with COVID-19’s arrival to wait and see what would happen, but now is the time to set things into motion again. Why? The world is reopening and as more countries welcome travelers, hotels need to be open and ready for business.
Alia Bostaji, Brokerage Associate and hotel expert, at Colliers | South Carolina has created a list of key things hotels need to be doing now as they return to operations.
No. 1: Press Play
Some hoteliers hit the pause button in March 2020 with COVID-19’s arrival to wait and see what would happen. So, why is now the time to press play? Simply put: The world is beginning to move forward and reopen, and halting operations in hopes of the pandemic suddenly vanishing may be more harmful than helpful. For over a year, the world has experienced the first strain of the virus and now it evolves almost daily. The virus and vaccines are adapting which means hotel industries need to as well. Pausing each time something new happens often leaves opportunities untapped. If there is one thing the virus has taught everyone, it’s the importance of evolving and adapting to stay functional, efficient and safe. Hoteliers need to be asking the questions: How can I provide a safe hotel experience for my staff and guests to generate revenue? How can I resume high-quality amenities and services for my guests in a safe and efficient manner? It’s time to press the play button again and market the property, staff and services – now more than ever. While the public slowly eases their travel fears, the best support hoteliers can offer is to clearly advertise the actions the property is taking to provide a safe and pleasant experience for travelers. Marketing the property during these times will keep the hotel top of mind and show how it has adapted to stay ahead of the curve.
No. 2: Be Strategic
Many owners were scrambling at the initial pandemic announcements, not knowing what to do. Some hotels thought doing something was better than doing nothing, however, they lacked a plan or strategy on the necessary actions to take. There was no way of telling if these changes would be temporary or permanent. Not having a crisis plan or emergency strategy can be costly, and in this market, losing talent can be just as detrimental as losing revenue. During the start of the pandemic, the hospitality market saw various layoffs. Many hotel owners rushed into laying off staff as services were halted due to travel bans and business closures. Then, as the first round of the Paycheck Protection Program was issued, many tried to reinstate their former staff only to learn they were too late. Their talent had sought other opportunities. Don’t be reactive this year – be strategic! Take 2020’s experiences as a learning opportunity to develop or strengthen the hotel’s crisis management strategy and ensure that it will emerge with organizational stability, a consistent revenue stream and customer trust intact.
No. 3: Reinvigorate Your Plans
The world may be beginning to move forward, however, the term “normal” should probably be thrown out of common vernacular for now. Things may never be exactly the same, but this presents new opportunities. It’s time to stop repeating and regurgitating the old business cycles, models, processes and plans. For the next few years, suburbs, metropolitan areas, neighborhoods, downtowns, outer districts, etc. will reflect a new look and feel, some of which are being highlighted now. Masks, social distancing and safer sanitizing standards may be here for a while. The key to success will be adapting former routines to fit the new standards of safety to provide the best service for staff and guests. So, take a red pen to the old plans and reinvigorate them.
How do hoteliers plan for 2021?
As the pandemic nears an end, it’s time that the hoteliers begin to operate with flexibility and perseverance. Bold moves, decisive actions and strategic planning will be essential. These may require certain sacrifices and calculated risks. For some hoteliers this may mean planning to let go of one or two hotels out of their portfolio. However, they shouldn’t fear; this doesn’t have to be a bad divorce with a lender. Now more than ever, lenders are willing to listen and work with owners to collaboratively market, position and sell the property. With a lender’s guidance and understanding, this will help hoteliers move on and strengthen their position in the market. When the time is right again, hoteliers can resume acquisitions with the lender to build the portfolio again. Alternatively, hoteliers who have equity in some properties may want to leverage that equity to acquire a property that has stood the test of time. Many hotel properties in the economy class fared well and sustained a cash flow for their owners during the pandemic. Resilient properties are out there. 2020 and the pandemic changed the hotel industry significantly, prompting hoteliers to now evaluate and execute business plans, protocols, and services differently. As the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, “So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.” For the hotel industry, the pandemic may have been a covert catalyst of opportunities.
Colliers | South Carolina has over 150 staff members, including 62 licensed real estate professionals, covering the entire state with locations in Charleston, Columbia, Greenville and Spartanburg. Total 2020 brokerage volume exceeded $533 million, which included over 456 sales and leasing transactions. In addition to traditional commercial real estate representation services for our clients, the company is actively engaged in Corporate Solutions and Healthcare Services. Colliers is an Accredited Management Organization (AMO) through the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) and is the largest manager of commercial real estate properties in South Carolina, with a portfolio of over 16 million square feet of office, industrial, retail and healthcare properties. Colliers | South Carolina’s staff hold 49 professional designations, the most of any firm in South Carolina. Colliers | South Carolina’s partner, LCK, provides project management services for new facilities and renovations across South Carolina.
Colliers (NASDAQ, TSX: CIGI) is a leading diversified professional services and investment management company. With operations in 67 countries, our more than 15,000 enterprising professionals work collaboratively to provide expert advice to real estate occupiers, owners and investors. With annualized revenues of $3.0 billion ($3.3 billion including affiliates) and $40 billion of assets under management, we maximize the potential of property and accelerate the success of our clients and our people. Learn more at corporate.colliers.com, Twitter @Colliers or LinkedIn.