The pressing question that hotels want an answer to is: When will things go back to normal? 

The pandemic has been existing since the end of 2019, but hoteliers are still unsure of how to take control of the situation since there is no clear timeline available to them.

To help hoteliers take control of the situation, ZEN Hospitality Solutions Founder Nathan Boublil and Chief Revenue Officer Omkar Sen shared their expertise on how hotels can recover from the pandemic on the webinar entitled The Need of the Hour: COVID-19 Recovery Action Plan For Hotels. Almost 300 attendees who participated in the webinar were provided a specific timeline on the phases that hotels would encounter on their way to recovery, and what hotels should do to sustain their businesses during these phases.

Phase One: Restricted 

Main characteristics: Domestic demand dominated by corporate bookings

This is the time when travel is restricted. Only the exempted sectors (ex. BPOs, government officials, media, and healthcare workers) are allowed to travel or book hotels, which is why demand is domestic. Southeast Asian countries are still in this phase, especially the Philippines. Though quarantine laws have eased up in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, these countries are still in this phase because their only source of guests are locals who engage in work-related activities. This phase is the most challenging to overcome, that some hotel owners are thinking about selling their properties. However, according to ZEN Hospitality Solutions Founder Nathan Boublil, selling the hotel is a short-term perspective. The demand for hospitality assets will be experiencing a very short decline, but when the industry recovers, the value of the hotel business will increase because people have missed traveling and are willing to spend more on that experience. Hotel owners are much better off waiting, just like the stock market in the long run. 

How hotels should act during this phase: 

To overcome this phase, hotels need to be more aware of the different travel segments that they can tap into. Corporate bookings or business-to-business (B2B) bookings will be the main source customers of hotels during this time, so they need to adjust to the needs and behavior of this segment. In the Philippines, overseas workers (OFWs) have been returning to the country and are also a new target market of hotels. Since the government is stricter in implementing social distancing protocols, adapting a digital solution that allows contactless hotel management will help hotels adhere to the guidelines.

Phase Two: Local Dependent

Main characteristics: Domestic business demand, few international business guests, and locals start engaging on staycations and inter-city travel

Countries that eased up travel restrictions are already in this phase, and SEA countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia will be entering the Local Dependent phase in the upcoming few months. Domestic demand is high during this time, but some citizens of the neighboring countries are already considering business travel. Local corporate bookings will still dominate hotels, but some locals will engage in staycations and travel to nearby cities.

How hotels should act during this phase:

Hotels need to be ready for the upcoming demand in travel. They need to partner with Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) if they are not listed on one yet. Hotels with existing listings on OTAs need to ensure that the information they indicated about their hotel is up to date and it highlights the safety and cleanliness protocol of the property. OTAs are large organizations that enable hoteliers to reach out to new demand sources, that it is important to maintain OTA relationships.

Phase Three: Recovery

Main characteristics: Domestic business demand will be close to pre-pandemic levels, stronger international business demand, more locals engage in staycations and leisure travel

This is expected to take place in eight months or more if the country once the countries begin exiting the Local Dependent Phase. It will take some time, but hotels that survived the last two phases will surely have the best return once this phase commences. Southeast Asia is expected to have the fastest tourism growth globally between 2020-2030, so hotels need not to worry about the future of travel. This can also serve as a fresh start for hotels, in which the playing field becomes even. Hoteliers need to be more cautious of their competitors and their strategies.

How hotels should act during this phase: 

Hotels should not be relaxed during this time, even if the demand for travel increases. Most hotels are expected to be prepared for this phase, since it is like going back to how things were pre-pandemic. However, since a “new normal” is taking place, hotels need to adapt digital solutions, pricing strategies, and safety protocols that are fit for this time period. 

These defined phases may still change, since the situation is changing week by week. Hotels need to constantly reassess their strategies. To help hoteliers align their strategies on the pandemic, here are 5 actionable tips that they need to do on the way to the Recovery Phase:

5 Actionable Steps That Hoteliers Need to Do To Overcome the Pandemic

1. Be flexible

Your target market today might change next month. Make sure your hotel is prepared to make that change. Only the hotels that remain resilient will overcome the pandemic.

2. Prioritize long-term brand protection

When things get tough, do not immediately think of selling your hotel business. The travel industry will surely bounce back. Brainstorm on how you can tailor your services to the need of the hour.

3. Optimize your market mix

Do not focus on the usual target market and travel segments that your hotel caters to. Identify the pressing demand based on your location and re-align your hotel strategies. 

4. Focus on customer experience

Guests will be very critical of hotels’ cleanliness and safety. Eliminate their trust issues through constant communication and a good safety procedure.

5. Avoid price-slashing

Price slashing is similar to low-balling. Be confident with the amazing service that your hotel offers and look for pricing alternatives that can help your business bounce back. 

ZEN eManager: A future-ready all-in-one solution

During these challenging times, an expert all-in-one solution can assist hotels on their way to the Recovery Phase, and keep their hotel businesses profitable. 

ZEN eManager is an all-in-one solution trusted by more than 5000 hotels in Southeast Asia. Hotels that adapted ZEN eManager pre-COVID have been earning steady revenue at present; this is because it is a solution meant to prepare hotels for the future.

ZEN eManager includes: 

  1. A cloud-based hotel management system: ZEN eManager has both eZee Absolute, a Property Management System, and eZee Centrix, a Channel Manager. These allow easy management of hotel listings across all OTAs, real-time monitoring of hotel operations, generation of accurate financial reports online in one dashboard and sending of automated guest emails and reminders. This way, hoteliers can manage their properties even at home while ensuring that hotel operations are smooth and guest satisfaction is excellent.
  2. A dedicated revenue manager: To avoid resorting to price slashing, ZEN eManager also includes a dedicated revenue manager straight from ZEN Headquarters. The assigned revenue manager applies the most advanced pricing algorithm, the ZEN Pricing Model, to ensure that hotel owners get maximum revenue no matter the season.

Book a free demo of ZEN eManager and see it live in action:


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