In the first phase of unlocking, the government has allowed hotels to start operations from Monday (June 8). After two months of a lull, hotels now have the task of offering hygienic and safe stays to people, beyond containment zones.
The government had issued a 31-point advisory for hotels and restaurants to restart their operations and had made it clear that the onus of containing the spread of the virus was in the hands of the management. The SOPs aim to minimise all possible physical contacts between the hotel staff and guests and also include other preventive and safety measures.
Some of the major rules include:
- Separate entry and exits for guests, staff and goods/supplies,
- Maintaining a physical distance of a minimum of 6 feet, when queuing up for entry and inside the hotel, specific markings to be made with sufficient distance to manage the queue and ensure social distancing,
- Maintain details of the guest (travel history, medical condition etc.) along with ID and self-declaration form must be provided by the guest at the reception,
- Hotels will need to adopt contactless processes like QR code, online forms, digital payments like e-wallet etc. for both check-in and check-out and disinfecting luggage.
In preparation, hospitality aggregators have started to put safety measures in place. For instance, OYO spokesperson told Inc42 that it has implemented minimal touch SOPs in hotels and has trained teams. It had launched Sanitised Stay tags for hotels to inform the customer.
“We have taken all the necessary precautionary measures – right from implementing minimal touch policies, ensuring accessibility to protective equipment, higher standards of hygiene, cleanliness and sanitisation, among many others. Our hotels will go through regular background audit checks for sanitisation, hygiene, and protective equipment,” the company spokesperson said.
OYO said it will be opening 18K hotels across the country in the next few weeks. Similarly, Treebo Hotels expects to open up half of its 600 hotels on June 8 and open remaining gradually depending on respective state guidelines.
Treebo spokesperson told Inc42 that the company has launched “Treebo Hygiene Shield”, whereby partner hotels have to comply with a comprehensive set of standards to ensure guest safety and hygiene. These would be reviewed by a quality team by visiting these properties regularly to conduct audits and ensure compliance. The properties not following these requirements will not be sold via its sales channel.
However, the costs are to be borne by the hotels and Treebo has tied up with high quality, low-cost vendors who will provide all materials required to meet these standards including sanitisers, disinfectant sprays, gloves, masks, etc. OYO and FabHotels didn’t explain the cost-sharing ratio for these services.
Further, the hotels which will continue to be shut, Treebo said it has waived off the fixed portion of its fee.
FabHotels founder and CEO Vaibhav Agarwal said that the company has launched a 100% Safe Place to Stay programme under which it is implementing a host of measures that go beyond the basic WHO guidelines and local administration recommendations.
The company said it is using its in-house audit tech to ensure continuous adherence to these new Covid19 SOPs. Agarwal said that its property operators have been very appreciative of the support and it has partnered with leading manufacturers and product suppliers pan-India for sourcing of these materials at highly discounted rates.
Talking about the future of hospitality in Covid-19, OYO spokesperson said that there will be a growing preference for staycations where travellers would prefer independent boutique hotels with limited capacity.
“We can also expect domestic travel to boom as restrictions continue on international travel across most destinations. Pilgrimages, road trips to closer destinations and staycations will gain momentum. It is definitely going to be tough, but this is a resilient sector and it will definitely open up with people travelling,” the spokesperson added.
Agarwal said that in a recent survey conducted by FabHotels, more than 80% of travel managers at large and mid-size enterprises expect business travel at their companies to rebound to pre-Covid levels within 3-6 months.
“We expect that the business budget hotels would be the first to bounce back within the hospitality industry once operations resume from June 8. Also, the budget brands like us which have always focused on quality and hygiene should be the first ones to recover as people start travelling again,” he added.