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Planning Ahead: How to Secure an Early Check-In at a Hotel

When you’re planning a vacation, the last thing you want to do is wait around for hours at the hotel before you can check-in. To avoid this, many travelers choose to request an early check-in when they book their hotel room. Here are some tips on how to secure an early check-in at a hotel.

The best way to ensure an early check-in is to call the hotel directly and ask if it’s possible. Most hotels will be able to accommodate your request if they have availability. If you’re booking your room online, make sure to include a note in the comments section that you’d like an early check-in.

If you’re looking for an early check-in, it’s best to book your room as far in advance as possible. This will give the hotel staff plenty of time to prepare your room and make sure it’s ready for you when you arrive. It also gives them more time to find another room if yours isn’t available yet.

Check Policies

Before booking your room, make sure to read the hotel’s policies on early check-ins. Some hotels may charge extra fees for early check-ins or require that you book a certain type of room in order to get one. Knowing these policies ahead of time can help ensure that your request is granted and that there are no surprises when it comes time to pay your bill.

Securing an early check-in at a hotel doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful if you plan ahead and follow these tips. By calling ahead, booking early, and checking the policies, you can ensure that your vacation starts off on the right foot with a hassle-free check-in experience.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


hotel business plan during covid

Guidelines for Hotel Business Management during COVID-19 Crisis

Article sidebar, main article content.

          This article aims to provide guidelines for managing hotel businesses during the COVID - 19 pandemic. The crisis has a direct effect on hotel businesses in Thailand as well as Thai people’s lives. Moreover, it also affects national tourism and economy worldwide. Therefore, entrepreneurs should have good organizational management in managing work and personnel in the workplace to be prepared to deal with the crisis. This can be done by 1) planning management strategies for hotel businesses that to be able to survive during the pandemic; 2) preparing to deal with the pandemic in different tourist attractions and hotel business establishments; and 3) hotel business management to minimize impacts of the Covid - 19 crisis so that they can manage to survive throughout the period of this crisis.

Article Details

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License .

Authors must agree to the journal publication rules and allow the editors to edit the manuscripts for publication.

 Author’s right belongs to the author but Journal of Southern Technology holds the right of first publication and thus allow readers to use the article for the purpose of education but not commercial.

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Baum, T. (2020). Hospitality, tourism, human rights and the impact of COVID-19. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 32(7), 2397-2407.

Bonfanti, A., Vigolo, V., & Yfantidou, G. (2021). The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on customer experience design: The hotel managers’ perspective. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 94, 102871.

Fayol, H. (1949). General and Industrial Management. London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons

Hartman, G., & Nickerson, N.P. (2020). COVID19 Impacts on Tourism-related Businesses: Thoughts and Concerns. Montana: University of Montana.

GSB Research. (2020). The Hotel Revenues from the Impact of COVID-19. Retrieved February 2,

, from www.gsbrearch.or.th [In Thai]

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Kreiner, C.N., & Ram, Y. (2020). National tourism strategies during the Covid-19 pandemic. Annals of Tourism Research Journal, October 19 : 103076. doi: 10.1016/j.annals.2020.103076

Kristiana, Y., Promono, R., & Brian, R. (2021). Adaptation strategy of tourism industry stakeholders during the COVID-19 pandemic: A case study in Indonesia. The Journal of Asian Finance, Economics and Business, 8(4), 213-223.

Koopongsakorn, K. (2020). The Hotel Business has to Adjust to the New Normal. Retrieved February 4, 2021, from https:// ismed.or.th. [In Thai]

Lunkam, P. (2021). Travel and Hotel Business after COVID -19. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://krungsri.com/th/ research- intelligence/ri-future-of-tourism-21 [In Thai]

Mark. (2020). View from the CEO of the Hotel and Accommodation Business. Retrieved February 4, 2021, from www. marketingoops. com [In Thai]

Ministry of Tourism and Sports. (2020). Guidelines for the Preparation of Tourist Attractions and Tourism Establishments to Support Tourism. Retrieved January 30, 2021, from www.moth.go.th. [In Thai]

Nana, Y. (2021). TMB and Thana Chart Strengthen the Strategy of Hoteliers to Survive the COVID-19 Crisis. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://www.thansettakij . com/content/normal-news/ 463584 [In Thai]

Pitikaisorn, P. (2020). Hotel Strategy to Get Out of the Crisis. Retrieved February 4, 2021, from www.bltbangkok.com [In Thai]

Phuworawan, Y. (2021). COVID-19 Vaccine: Plans to Build ‘Group Immunity’ and ‘Group Concerns’ arising in the 53 days Since the spread of the coronavirus vaccine in Thailand. Retrieved September 28, 20 from https://www.than-settakij.com/business/484617 [In Thai]

Siamrath Online. (2020). The Menu of Physical Health, Mental Health, Fighting COVID-19. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from www.gsbrearch.or.th [In Thai]

Srimahan, P. (2020). Hotel Business, Although it Hurts for a Long Time, Will be Pass. Retrieved January 30, 2021, from www.bangkbizhews.com [In Thai]

Škare, M., Soriano, D. R., & Porada-Rochon, M. (2021). Impact of COVID-19 on the travel and tourism industry. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 163, 120469.

Tiger. (2020). Management. Retrieved January 18, 2021, from https://www.thaiwinner.com [In Thai]

Thaweewong, P. (2021). The Covid Poisoning Affects Hotel Business Adjust the Monthly Rental. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://www.bangkokbiznews.com/news/detail/918630 [In Thai]

TMB Economic Analytics. (2020). The Hotel Business Trend. Retrieved February 1, 2021, from https://www.tmbbank.com /analytics/[In Thai]

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UNWTO. (2021). Tourism Industry. Retrieved January 20, 2021 from http:// thestandard.com

Ungphakorn, P. (2020). Summary of Industry Transformation Panel Hotel and Accommodation Industry. Retrieved February 2, 2021, from www.pier.or.th. [In Thai]

Wongmontha, S. (2009). Public Relations Theory and Practice. Bangkok: Terafilms. World Health Organization. (2020). Coronavirus in Thailand. Retrieved February 18, 20 from https://www.who.int/thailand/health-topics/ coronavirus.

Yeh, S. S. (2021). Tourism recovery strategy against COVID-19 pandemic. Tourism Recreation Research, 46(2), 188-194

How to Win Future Hotel Business during COVID-19

future hotel business

Just over a month ago, the hospitality industry halted globally and future hotel business was disappearing at a rapid rate. Hoteliers had to jump into complete crisis mode due to the spread of COVID-19. There were mass cancellations, layoffs and shutdowns. The financial damage to the industry was worse than 9/11 and the financial crisis of 2008 combined. Hotels weren’t sure if they’d ever recover and business savvy owners were trying to creatively repurpose their business models to respond to the current climate.

Simply put, the hospitality industry was in shambles.

It’s amazing the difference a month can make. According to the The Blavatnik School of Government , government regulations are starting to loosen up. We’re starting to see leisure travel cautiously ramp up with some markets seeing an increase in occupancy by 15-50% at their properties. Experts are predicting that hotels will start to see the market bounce back in 6-12 months with properties dependent on international travel, group bookings or large meetings and conventions being the last to recover.

Now is not the time to sit back and fiddle your thumbs waiting for business to come to you. It’s time to be proactive and start prospecting which begs the question...

What can you do NOW to win future hotel business during COVID-19?

In this article we explore strategies that hotels can implement today to help increase their earnings in Q3 and beyond.

1. Reach out to your COVID Cancellations and Past Opportunities

The United States saw a 95% cancellation rate for meetings and events due to the impact of COVID-19 . Every single hotel experienced cancellations. It’s a best practice to start rebuilding your sales pipeline by connecting with your cancellations. These contacts and accounts are the warmest leads you have. They were already committed to staying with you or hosting an event at your property. Don’t jump straight into sales mode. The virus outbreak has negatively impacted almost every single industry, not to mention, the personal effect it may have had on your clients. Check in to see how they are doing and rebuild your rapport by listening to their story and their thoughts on the future.

You should also share with them your plans for recovery and any changes you’ve made to your operations in response to the crisis. You can use this dialogue as an opportunity to ask for feedback with your business’ ideas or what they want to see from you to rebook. By having honest, open conversations with your clients, you will start to garner their trust and open up the door for them to rebook in the future.

2. Prospect for New Opportunities

Based on past data from global events that disrupted the travel industry, the CRBE “expect[s] a recovery first for drive-to leisure destinations and then corporate transient demand”. We most likely won’t see group travel and large events until further down the road.

This means that there will be less leads and more competition for those leads. It typically takes 4-12 sales touches to find prospects and close their new business. You don’t want to start reaching out once business picks up, you want to start finding and warming those leads now.

Our CEO, Bob Graham, recently presented a 4 step sales strategy in a webinar on How to Position your Hotel to Win in the New Normal that can be implemented today at your property.

Hotel Sales Strategy

Find Prospects

Identify the key market segments that you want to target. Make a list of the business accounts and job titles that you should reach out to. Next, head over to LinkedIn to search for contacts that match those accounts and job titles.

Build A List

Now that you have all this information about your contact, you need to find their email address. Tools like Hunter.io , zoominfo , or LeadIQ are great resources for list building. Use a spreadsheet or a CRM to store this information and start reaching out to these contacts.

Email Outreach

Reach out to your prospects with personalized emails. Your outreach message should be similar to your communication with your cancelled bookings. Introduce yourself, see how they’re doing during this time, and explain why you’re reaching out.

It’s important to note that during your outreach, you may receive a message that your contact has been laid off or is the wrong person to reach out to. Don’t let that stop you. Try and find out who has taken over that person’s responsibilities or who is the right person to reach out to. At the end of the day, a reply is a reply and you want to use it as an opportunity to gather as much information about the organization as possible.

Grow Relationships

Once you’ve established communication with the right person, keep the dialogue open. Share with them any changes you’re making to your property to ensure the safety of the guests. As you grow the relationship, you can start selling. Based on expert forecasting with transient corporate travel coming back before group travel, you should start by offering a Local Negotiated Rate for the business when they start to travel. As things slowly start to go back to normal and travel picks up, you already have that relationship and will be top of mind when they start booking for corporate travel.

hotel business plan during covid

3. Reach out to your local Convention and Visitor Bureau or Destination Marketing Organization

Your CVB or DMO will have the inside scoop on your region's policies for reopening. Schedule a call or meeting with a representative from your CVB or DMO and find out what their plans are for recovery and how you can support them with those initiatives. Share with them the changes that you’re making to your property to ensure the safety of the public and ask for feedback on your ideas.

If there were any major events cancelled in your city, for example the olympics, find out if they’ve rescheduled or if you can help them in their rescheduling efforts by offering up room blocks or meeting space. Work together to get these bids back in the future when it’s safe. By supporting your CVB or DMO, they’re more likely to reach out to you for feedback on initiatives or support with future large-scale city projects.

COVID-19 has turned the hospitality industry upside down. In 2020, hotel occupancy is expected to drop by 35.6% and ADR is expected to drop by 16.2%. Now is the time to focus on building your pipeline so that you are ready to sell when it is safe to do so. The key is to identify opportunities (either past or new), reach out and connect with those opportunities, and build and nurture those connections to create authentic relationships. By following this simple process, you will see your future hotel business and sales grow which will have a direct impact on your profits.

hotel business plan during covid

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Online Hotel Management System

15 Strategies to Lift Your Hotel Business After COVID-19 Outbreak

And, this too shall pass.

The entire world today has turned upside down by the COVID-19 outbreak. Earlier this year, hoteliers were planning about their revenue strategies for 2020, searching for the emerging travel trends and more. But, who would’ve imagined that 3 months into this new decade, global travel will be shut down? 

Nonetheless, deep down we all are aware that the travel and hotel industry is the most affected one currently. And, we see no sign of hope when people would resume travel. 

So, in this blog, we’re going to talk about how to lift your hotel business after COVID19 outbreak.

What is the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry?

The sad reality of COVID19 is that it is spreading quickly and will continue to spread for a while. All the more, not even WHO ( World Health Organisation ) knows how many people will be infected (or will pass away), or when this will come to an end.

Well, Neil Patel presented the impact of COVID19 on the traffic of various industries. Check the graph below: 

Clearly, the impact of COVID19 on the travel, and eventually, the hotel industry is as deadly as the virus. Air travel, transportation, and borders are shut. Bookings have been cancelled, people are continuously asking for a refund and there are no new bookings currently. 

Also, the world’s most crowded destinations are now seen as empty. As most of them have postponed their travel plans or are not even thinking about going anywhere for now. 

And, the peak seasons have turned out to be the weak ones as the world is under home quarantine. 

But, “Success always lies on the other side of the shore.” 

So, even if the worst hits you now; stay calm to witness an enriching scenario ahead. 

What should hotels do to survive COVID-19? 

As we see, economies are going down, people might lose their jobs, businesses might close down and the list of consequences is endless. Even business travelers, for a while, would prefer to have online meetings rather than one-to-one. 

So to cope up with these crisis, hotels like you would be taking various steps these days; which look most promising and would help your property survive this crisis in the long run. Some of them would be: 

  • Implementing cost control
  • Adopting technology and automation
  • Focusing on staff training 

Further, here are some more and effective survival tips for hotels during COVID19. 

So, now is the best time to stand strong, take suitable measures to lift your hotel business after COVID19 and be ready to welcome your guests again.

Why is it important for hotels to focus on business after COVID-19?

In the current situation, the most important thing is to “survive” and if you are able to do so, you have achieved your milestone of success. 

Adding on to this, it is also not a hidden fact that once this gets better, it is going to be even more difficult for you to attract guests to your property again.

And so, it is very important for you to plan for the future of your business. 

Hence, by the time this pandemic recedes; you should be well prepared to have your business back on track.

How to lift your hotel business after COVID19 outbreak?

Presently, while you are in home quarantine, it is the best time for you to plan, strategize and prepare yourself for a post COVID-19 era.

We know, it will be more challenging for you to reach out to new guests than to keep current ones. So, if you remain silent now and prefer not to stay in touch with your guests; then surely you’ll be forgotten by the time COVID-19 is under control. 

Here are a few things we recommend:

Strategies to lift your property after {you know what}

  • Apply low season strategies
  • Get listed on OTAs
  • Improve OTA rankings
  • Focus on your online reputation
  • Participate in OTA promotions
  • Enroll on metasearch engines
  • Make use of emails
  • Implement pricing, discount and promotions
  • Create proper cancellation policies
  • Start social media marketing
  • Optimize website and SEO performance
  • Train your staff
  • Ensure proper sanitation and cleanliness
  • Connect with travel agents
  • Monitor your guests travel history

Let us help you with each one.

1. Apply low season strategies

Well, at the beginning of this year, you might have worked on your peak and weak seasons. But, who knew that this year would be a weak season year entirely. And we know it is difficult to achieve full hotel occupancy during such times, but this too will change soon. RIGHT? 

For that reason, applying your low season strategies after this pandemic would be the smart thing to do. So, make sure you do this with some creativity.

For example, highlight unique amenities of your hotel, offer competitive promotions, organize events like music concerts (after public gatherings are allowed), food festivals and such likes. 

If you plan this correctly, then you will definitely gain profits and stand ahead of your competitors in no time post this phase. 

2. Get listed on OTAs

Your presence is one of the most important things to consider post COVID-19 era. If you are available for your guests where they want, then it is the best and most simple way to get connected with them and enhance your bookings as well.

So, though you might be focusing on reducing your expenses, but it’s the best time to get listed on as many OTAs as possible. Having more OTA connections will help you to generate maximum revenue as well as reach out to more guests.

You must have already been listed on many OTAs. But there’s no harm in getting listed on a few more if they match your property type and get you bookings at a good cost. 

Moreover, getting listed isn’t the only important thing. Instead, you should also focus on showcasing the same number of total rooms, star rating, room types, cancellation policy, and check-in and check-out time on all the OTAs. 

3. Improve OTA rankings

Nowadays, it is essential for you to take steps in improving your OTA rankings. Having a good ranking on OTAs will inturn lead your guests to select your property over the others (or your competitors). 

Naturally, the better ranking you have on the OTAs, the more bookings you would receive. You cannot ignore this if you want to lift your hotel business after COVID19.  

Moreover, the important thing to note is – the process of improving your OTA rankings is a continuous one. You cannot leave it after executing all the required steps just once. You need to constantly analyze the results of your steps, and continue with those that works the best for you. 

Your market managers would also be available at such times – so discuss your plans with them, and adopt what you think is the most effective idea. 

4. Focus on your online reputation

Your reviews and ratings would take a center stage more than ever before post COVID19. Are your premises safe and sanitized? Your guests would want to know about it.

So, make sure you closely monitor how your brand is being projected and perceived by existing guests as well as potential guests. Working on your reputation most definitely helps with long term benefits. So, even if you haven’t started with it until now, it is not late to do so. 

You can reach out to your past guests to give you reviews online; focusing on the cleanliness part if possible.

Thus, let your guests talk about their stay at your hotel on social platforms. This will ensure safety in the minds of your potential guests that are planning to book with you in the future.

For now, start responding to your reviews which are left unanswered; this will be beneficial to acquire new guests as well. 

5. Participate in OTA promotions

Well, in the pre-COVID times, until international travel was shut down in most countries; OTAs were running various deals, offers, promotions to promote hotels and acquire bookings. 

We understand that this would start (albeit with a fresh approach) after COVID19 recedes. So, this is one thing you should participate in. It will help in increasing your bookings as well as improving your OTA rankings.

Such discounts and free deals on OTAs will make your property preferable over your competitors. 

Do keep an eye on updates from OTAs when travelling resumes – they may push out new rules and protocols for promotions or bookings and you’d be able to get a clear idea on what steps to take. 

6. Enroll on metasearch engines

Meta search engines help travellers compare hotel room rates on different OTAs; and make a purchasing decision. This is not going to change after COVID-19.

Getting enrolled on metasearch engines will help to drive you more direct bookings, expand your reach and enhance your revenue.

Below are some popular metasearch engines you can enroll into:

  • TripAdvisor
  • Google Hotel Ads

Moreover, listing on these metasearch engines will not only boost your visibility, but also improve your brand value.

7. Make use of emails 

Email marketing has proved to be one of the best ways to engage and nurture readers.

Currently, you can reach out to your past guests via emails and stay connected with them. This will spread your brand’s awareness among your guests; and post COVID19, they will be nurtured enough to book at your property if they need to.

And, post the crisis, you can focus on emails like your hotel reopening date, special offers, deals, promotions and more.

8. Implement proper rates, discounts and promotions

Adopting a systematic pricing strategy is the key to get your hotel business on track. So, at present understand and focus on your guests’ conditions.

Post this phase when people resume to travel; the first thing they would prefer is an affordable stay or travel package. 

So, be prepared with some effective and reasonable pricing packages and discount deals. This will definitely help your hotel to receive bookings. 

You should start acquiring guests at a lower price than what you used to offer previously. Make sure you attract more guests by giving out better deals than what your competitors offer.

We know this would cost you high, but with time it will get your business back on track. 

9. Create proper cancellation policies

A proper and fool-proof cancellation policy is a MUST before rolling out your availability on your website as well as other channels. This is going to be an important factor to get bookings after this outbreak.

Try not to be over flexible and ultra-strict with your policy. Having proper policies can get you more confirmed bookings and even reduce your cancellation ratio.

10. Start social media marketing

Social media is the best way to get more bookings, improve brand value as well as connect and attract more guests. 

More than 60% of internet users research online before they make a booking or purchase travel plans. JQ Digital

So, it is important for you to be socially active and regularly post about your offers, combo packages, and deals on all your social media profiles. However, if you haven’t been active on these platforms, then now is the best time to start. 

Currently, you can post about the steps you are taking to keep your property safe and sanitized. This will definitely help you in the long run when you want to lift your hotel business after COVID19.

We also have some ready-to-use social media templates that will be beneficial for you to do so.

This is one such powerful platform that will not only help you to connect with potential customers but also promote your property in a much more effective and affordable way.

11. Optimize website and SEO performance

While staying at home during this lockdown, your hotel website and SEO is one thing you can start working on. An optimized hotel website can improve your hotels’ ranking and visibility on Google, Yahoo, and other search engines.

As observed, most of your audience lands on your website from the search engines. Hence, focus on appearing at the top of the search engine results. Perform good SEO to improve your website’s performance.

Both these practices provide results in the long term. So, if you execute these now, you’ll be seeing good results by the time COVID19 is over.

12. Train your staff

Now and even after the COVID-19 era, your staff is the ultimate point of contact for your guests. Thus, it is very essential for you to make them aware and train them for delivering excellent guest experience. 

Do this by conducting online training sessions for all your staff. Also, if you are using a hotel technology, get them trained on that as well. This will help you to stay engaged and guide them on ways to improve your hotel operations as well as deliver the best guest experience. 

All the more, make a list of all your pending and neglected tasks that you were unable to finish earlier. Start taking them up one by one. Further, communicate with your staff and take ideas from them as well – you might get some good tips in doing so. 

13. Ensure proper sanitation and cleanliness

During or post this outbreak, the first and foremost priority of your guests would be proper hygiene, sanitation, and cleanliness.

For this, do educate your staff about the preventive measures that they should take on your hotel premises. Moreover, sanitize your hotel thoroughly. Install the alcohol-based disinfectant hand rub dispensers at maximum areas of your property.

Also, post the crisis, even when things have settled down, give FREE masks and sanitizers to all your guests as a safety measure; be it at your reception or in the room.

And while doing all of these, highlight about it on your website, social media and every possible link that reaches to your guests. 

This will assure your guests a sense of trust in your hotel and make them aware that their stay will be safe and pleasant. 

Tip: Find some must-have things to do to keep your hotel safe from COVID19 .

14. Connect with travel agents

Travel agents are a source of extra income when bookings from OTAs, meta search engines and other such likes don’t work out well. Getting connected with them will not only help in showcasing your presence to your guests’ but will also reap you more reservations. 

We are sure you might have been tied up with several travel agents already. However, if you did not consider this as a strategy till now; then it’s time you should! Also, look forward to getting connected to new as well as with inter-country travel agents (those are less impacted with COVID-19). 

Inform them about all the sanitation measures taken at your hotel and ensure that they convey the same to your potential clients.

Moreover, prepare a list of the ones that have got you more profits. Make sure you offer them best deals as well as flexible pricing options and eliminate the ones that seem not profit making. 

15. Monitor your guests’ travel history

Well, as you are aware that this deadly virus has affected the world mainly due to international travel and community transmission. And, we are sure you don’t want your hotel to be in the headlines post this era.

So, to assure your guests’ safety, it is your utmost priority to keep a track of your international guests as well as their travel history. 

Also, for time being, you can allot separate rooms to your international and local guests or even have separate floors for them. Well, we know you can’t stop them from exploring other areas of your hotel but definitely you can take preventive steps. RIGHT?

Hence, taking such precautionary measures and having a list of such travellers will also help you to keep proper sanitation of that room or area around it. 

This will pertain your guests from the fear of getting in contact with the virus and enjoy a scare-free stay at your property. Basically, this is just an added precaution that you can take.

Check out a quick video here about the above mentioned strategies.

Frequently asked questions

Let us guide you by answering a few of your questions that might arise in relation to this blog:

There are various preventive measures that you can adopt to assure a safe stay for your guests. You can refer to those in our end to end guide and keep your hotel safe from Coronavirus . Besides, you can also participate in the recently launched safety programs by MakeMyTrip  and  Goibibo  – MySafety  and  goSafe  respectively. This will enable you to give a surety to your guests that your property is safe from the virus highlighting safety badges on both these platforms.

Finding ways to cut off hotel costs is a true challenge. And, performing it RIGHTLY helps to keep your expenses under control and meet your profit margins. Below we have mentioned a few ways that you can implement amid COVID19 times: a. Make use of less utilized spaces b. Analyze your expenses c. Cross-train your staff d. Save electricity, go green and more… Find the smart cost saving ideas for hotels .

OTAs are a great source of easy marketing for hoteliers like you; as it helps you to sell rooms to a much larger audience. Hence, to select the RIGHT set of OTAs is very important. Below are the factors that will help you to select the right OTA combination: a. Pros and cons of each OTA b. Resources to maintain the OTA listings c. Commissions vs bookings

Hotel technology is one such crucial element that might cost you high at present but helps you to simplify all your operations to a great extent. And, once COVID-19 settles down, it is a necessity that you will require. So, to optimize your costs, currently, you can switch to an all-in-one FREE hotel solution: eZee Ultimate . 

In Conclusion

Above all, we really have no clue when this phase will pass and how much more it will impact the hotel industry. But, it’s time we take all the possible measures to help our business sustain amid these crucial times.

Begin with focusing on the above strategies and prepare your property to meet this toughest phase of your business.

Lastly, don’t lose hope. Time will change, things will get back on track and guests will soon be at your doorstep. We are in this together and we will fight this crisis soon. Stay home. Stay safe. Till then, nurture and start preparing to lift your hotel business after COVID19.

Smart hoteliers are using this for revenue optimization! Are you?

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5 Hotel Marketing Strategies To Rebuild Stronger

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Originally published on Hotel Online

Travelers are spoiled for choice as every property (no matter what audience they previously catered to) is looking to win their business and keep revenue on the books. It also takes a thoughtful approach to hotel’s marketing plan to entice travelers with heightened expectations for cleanliness, service, and a good deal in an uncertain economy.

Before we dive in, be sure to visit our  ultimate guide to hotel marketing  to access an all-encompassing rundown of hotel marketing trends, data points, and insights.

Here are 5 hotel marketing strategies to rebuild stronger and to set you up for success:

1.   make decisions based on your market.

This may seem obvious, but it’s critical to focus on what’s happening in your immediate area first. As infection rates and government restrictions may be hyper-local in severity, your property may not be as affected by the conditions one city, state, or country away. Start by analyzing forward-looking data regularly to see what business is coming in, and what channels (direct, GDS, OTA, etc.) travelers are using to book accommodations. This will inform your decision making on when and where to spend your marketing dollars.

2.   Evaluate what new trends have emerged post-lockdown

In a recent Amadeus survey of global HSMAI members, 38% believe a change in health and safety will be the most significant trend we’ll see during crisis recovery, and a further 47% also see this as the most impactful long-term trend. Looking at how global brands like Hilton, Marriott, and IHG have responded to these concerns with their public “commitment to clean” campaigns, it’s clear this is top of mind for hoteliers and travelers alike.

To emphasize your property’s ability to meet the needs of “ Generation Clean ,” a new cross-generational segment of travelers with heightened expectations of health and hygiene, make sure your sanitization protocols are included in all of your marketing messaging.

In addition to maintaining cleanliness standards, the practice of social distancing and increasing touchless interactions will be key. As more travelers abandon urban and international escapes in the short-term in favor of staycations and road trips, marketing will play a significant role. Now is the perfect time to highlight your hotel’s unique selling points in a way that will resonate with locals looking for a safe, hassle-free vacation.

Do you manage a small boutique hotel and welcome a limited number of guests? Does your luxury resort own a private beach or have rooms with private plunge pools? Do you have pre-sanitized yoga mats available for the wellness guru or bicycle rentals for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy? Can you deploy robots or set up contactless pick up stations for food and beverage delivery or other amenities? Think about how grateful guests and potential customers would be to learn this level of detail about your on-site experience during the shopping or pre-stay phase. These not only provide extra incentives for guests to book but can bring in more revenue to counteract reductions from other parts of the business where operations may be limited.

3.   Update key marketing materials, starting with your website

Your website influences 97% of a client’s purchasing decision , so it’s more important than ever to keep it up to date. Guests want to know if your operating procedures have changed, what amenities and services are still available, and what your booking policies are. Putting this information front and center on your home page will provide peace of mind to shoppers and give them the confidence they need to book.

This is just as important for your hotel’s other marketing and booking channels. Add your hotel’s COVID-19 policies to GDS listings, metasearch sites like TripAdvisor, and all your social media channels . If you generate automated emails pre, during, or post-stay, make sure those include relevant and timely updates, with empathetic language, to inspire repeat business.

4.   Think about how to capture demand without lowering rates

In a competitive market with less business to go around, think about how to build a variety of promotions to support your revenue strategy without lowering rates. Since COVID-19 is keeping many leisure travelers close to home, try offering inclusions and bundles to local contacts in your CRM. Incentives like free parking, spa discounts, or a late check out will inspire them to book, while increasing satisfaction and perceived value.

Another way to maximize incremental revenue is through stay-based promotions. Create offers such as “Buy three nights, get one free,” to encourage more extended visits and subsequent revenue opportunities. All the while, emphasize flexibility by waiving cancellation fees to build brand loyalty .

5.   Consider long-term ad campaigns to boost brand awareness and visibility

Use any available advertising spend on assets that will convert bookings. This includes pay-per-click (PPC) ads, display, and metasearch ads. With cost-per-click prices lower now as a result of the crisis, it’s the perfect time to invest in longer-term campaigns to maintain your brand awareness before prices rise.

Another top ROI generator is remarketing by using display and social ads to target people who have recently visited your website and engaged with your content. You can also remarket to travelers that cancelled during the crisis to see if they’d like to rebook.

Since 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, use metasearch wisely to drive direct bookings by including quality content such as images, videos, and traveler reviews. Review your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy and keywords as well to increase organic search through sites like Google and Bing.

As bookings return, the GDS will be a valuable channel to connect with travel agents and show them why they should choose your property over a competitor’s. Run ads to promote relevant offers like a free breakfast to incentivize bookings or award travel agents with a bonus commission for choosing your hotel.

As the world adapts to life with COVID-19, take time to reflect on what’s working in your marketing plan, what can be improved, and how travelers perceive your messages. Use empathetic language whenever possible. How you interact with consumers during stressful situations can make or break your brand reputation. Be prepared to pivot your plan based on what your data is telling you. Only then will you find an effective marketing mix to win the hearts of travelers.

We hope these 5 hotel marketing strategies during a pandemic were useful for you. For more detailed insight into how to build a successful marketing strategy for the future, download our eBook produced in partnership with HSMAI, “Planning for Hospitality Recovery.”

Download the eBook

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  • November 7, 2021
  • By Giovanni Angelini
  • Leadership & Opportunities

Giovanni Angelini, August 06, 2021

Revisiting the basics and understanding the challenges that matter – in pursuit of a resilient future.

This is a time for hospitality operators to continuously review their strategies and rethink their entire processes – from products to administration to finances to sustainability – and adjust accordingly to match shifting consumer preferences, digital transformation, and accelerated global trends. 

There has never been a more fierce wake-up for the industry and cannot go back to business as usual of the past. In today’s rapidly changing and uncertain business environment, adaptability, agility and sustainability are – and will continue to be – crucial keys to success. 

Building a better future

True ‘Business sustainability’ requires an organisation to have a clear and comprehensive strategy for driving continuous, profitable growth while being mindful of its social, environmental and financial impacts. 

When it comes to strategising for sustainable business, however, there is no one-size-fits-all formula. Sustainable business strategies are usually unique to each organisation, as they tie into larger business goals and organisational principles. 

Sustainability is a business model that creates, delivers, and captures value for all stakeholders without the natural, economic, and social capital it relies on. It also allows businesses to meet their current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own. The objective is to create a better future for all involved.

Managing and developing business sustainably involves doing more than what’s demanded by laws, regulations and market needs. It requires strong leadership, teamwork, and responsibility. Also, it must ensure that short-term profits don’t turn into long-term liabilities.

Sustainability management can strengthen an organisation’s competitive edge, simultaneously improving its reputation and increasing its ability to attract personnel, customers, and suppliers. 

The road to 100 per cent sustainability is long, and numerous approaches will need to be tested before a company or organisation can have the most positive impact.

Economic Responsibility

Profitability is vital for hotel business. In addition to survival, it ensures growth. What is done environmentally and socially must go hand in hand with profitability. 

Naturally, organisations put more weight on business results and profitability, but the overall image and positioning are just as important for the medium-long term. And when it comes to “People, Planet, and Profit”, one cannot be achieved without the other. 

Sustainable management pays – both in terms of efficiency and productivity, as well as brand loyalty, employee retention, and overall financial returns. 

We are now seeing unprecedented changes in the way business has to be conducted to create value and growth. Ideally, a successful hospitality organisation will achieve a sustainable competitive advantage by offering new guest experiences that resonate at an emotional level. It is a fast-changing industry, and leaders must evolve to embrace the many new business dynamics – including a new generation of attitudes, expectations, and innovation.

Planning and forecasting for a sustainable future is a critical element of running a business. No business, including hotels, will continue to grow year after year. A clear vision and strategy, a business roadmap, a detailed initiatives plan, and key performance indicators are essential for pursuing long-term growth. 

In this fragmented, seasonal/cyclical, and perishable industry, continuous change is the reality. To successfully respond to market needs and plan for the future, a mindset shift is essential. 

Ethical and Legal Responsibilities

Any business enterprise must conduct business legally and ethically if it wishes to survive, grow, and thrive. Hospitality business in particular as it is a people-first business.

This encompasses, amongst others, business actions in line with the spirit and observance of the law, protection of consumer rights, and respect for the provisions of business contracts. 

Ethical practices contribute to an organisation’s productivity by minimising losses, creating trust with partners and suppliers, establishing customer loyalty, and maintaining a successful team of employees.

Integrity, honesty, trustworthiness, respect for others, accountability, diversity, equal opportunities, and others are all essential topics for an organisation’s managers, shareholders, and employees to comply with. 

Clarity on the company’s code of conduct and corporate governance, and embraced by all in full. 

The code of conduct/governance should contain a broad range of policies covering legal, social, and professional obligations, customers and other business relationships. Some examples include organisational and administrative requirements, personal conduct, conflict of interest, discrimination and harassment, reporting and financial integrity, and compliance with the law.

Responsible procurement, data protection, and a secure and anonymous whistleblowing system should also be part of the code of conduct. The principles of good governance are crucial to managing any business or organisation.

Sustainable business is now mainstream, and the hospitality industry has to move beyond symbolic statements on ethics and sustainability and create a strong culture built on trust, respect, and honesty.

Philanthropic and Social Responsibility

Businesses need to take responsibility for both the ‘internal’ and ‘external’ impacts of their processes and operations and seek to do good with activities that benefit their local and broader communities. 

Being a ‘good corporate citizen’ means acting responsibly and demonstrating care by implementing programmes, initiatives, and best practices that bring value to local communities while protecting natural resources. From job creation to fundraising, hotels play an important role in their communities. It’s important to remember that these communities are a significant source of revenue too.

A clear rule is that no one should be exploited in the preparation and provision of an organisation’s services (including firm opposition to child labour, modern slavery, and human trafficking). 

Good social governance will also promote workforce diversity and the eradication of racial discrimination.

Safety and security within the hotels are also of paramount importance in the post-pandemic world. Expectations are high, and no compromises are accepted.

Environmental Responsibility

The overexploitation of natural resources in the pursuit of economic growth and development has negatively impacted the environment and caused these resources to become scarcer and costlier. 

To be environmentally responsible, an organisation should ensure its business activities do not damage the environment, the climate, or nature’s resources.

Hotels are large consumers of resources, and the amount of overconsumption and wastage, in general, can be high. It is essential to find ways to ‘reduce-reuse-recycle-upcycle’ and be as eco-friendly as possible. Customers will appreciate it, and, in some cases, even demand it.

With global warming and energy use affecting how we consume critical resources worldwide, basic utilities are under increasing strain, leading to increased prices, volatility, and shortages. While climate change is widely perceived as the world’s biggest threat, many countries and organisations have yet to take any effective action to limit their environmental impact.

Primary targets (KPIs) and measurements for any company should include energy saving, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (carbon output), water consumption, wastage, recycling, responsible sourcing, and others.

With shortages of food and water in many parts of the world, hotels can help to make a big difference by fully embracing sustainable operations. The cost of all utilities will continue to increase, and hotels have to look at becoming self-sufficient within a reasonable timeframe, especially in terms of electricity. 

With the vast majority of the world’s population breathing unsafe air, this is a major concern. Hotels have to play a key role in reducing emissions, limiting waste, saying no to single-use plastics, and championing other sustainable practices. Indoor air quality and proper filtration are of particular concern for consumers in the post-pandemic world, and hotels must respond.

It has become necessary for organisations to educate and train (and re-train) employees on the importance of sustainability, and inspire them to create and implement programmes that benefit the environment. Measurable environmental targets with an easy-to-follow score and rating process can help to drive group-wide implementation (with recognition and rewards for the high achievers).

Note: The ISO 26000 guidelines and selected sustainable development goals outlined by the United Nations can be used as guides to develop suitable sustainable processes. But, in principle, a successful organisation can and should do more than this.

Manage and Measure (targets/KPIs and metrics)

Simply put, hoteliers can’t save what they aren’t measuring, and if they can’t measure it, they can’t improve it. 

In principle, all targets and KPIs must be measurable, relevant, specific, and time-bound. Targets should be aggressive but achievable, and all stakeholders must accept and embrace them in full.

Measuring a hotel’s carbon footprint is not an easy task, and the complicated formula required is often incorrectly applied. For organisations seeking to measure their emissions, it is important to use reliable software and have a qualified independent verification process.

As the climate crisis moves to the top of consumer agendas, it’s becoming increasingly common for organisations (particularly public listed companies) to try to calculate and communicate their carbon footprints.

The typical reporting metric for carbon emissions is usually measured in tonnes of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) per room per year or kilogrammes of CO2 per room per day. It can also be measured per square meter. The key objective is to reduce total emissions even as business continues to grow, mainly by making strategic changes in operations.

Immediate impact; hotels have to also address other important matters that directly relate to carbon emissions, such as building design, procurement and supply chain, plastics and paper usage, waste management (food waste, sewage, wastewater), guest transportation, recycling, upcycling, consumables, cleaning chemicals and so on…

Where are hotels sourcing their restaurant ingredients and other operating supplies? From licensed and sustainable suppliers? Are they using eco-friendly packaging and transportation methods? What type of storage is needed? Does it use a lot of energy?

These are just a few of the questions that must be considered when pursuing operational sustainability. 

As for the answers – the increased use of renewable energy (solar and geothermal systems), energy-efficient appliances, smart chillers and heating systems (HVAC), and clever use of natural light are just some of the essential steps hotels can take to reduce carbon emissions.

Utilities (Suggested Benchmarking/Metrics)

Measurements: Electricity–KWH.  Water–CU.  FT/M.  Gas–LBS/KG.  Fuel–Gal/Lit. (One table each for Electricity, Water, Gas, Fuel, Whole property. Plus F&B outlets?)

Other Benchmarking (own formula); Plastics/Styrofoam, Paper, Wastage, Recycling, Upcycling, Consumables, Contaminated Waste/Grease, Plant-Based Products and Others.

The promotion and selling of plant-based foods is a clear area where most hotels can do a much better job. It is a proven fact that “animal agriculture” is a major source of air pollution. In addition, most farmers today commonly use feed additives such as growth promoters and antibiotics, which cause drug resistance, not only in animals but in humans (meat eaters) as well. Another pandemic in the making?

Important Question; Can you measure your property’s carbon footprint?

Also, it is important to plan, implement and monitor activities and processes that can offset a business’s carbon footprint – i.e. training and education activities for all employees, tree planting programmes, replacement of old equipment, efficient use of technology, and so on. 

In this fast-changing business landscape, the key objective of a sustainable business journey is to create a caring culture and long-lasting success.

Good afternoon And thanks to Professor Dori Davari for her kind invitation for me to...

As we head into a new business year, industry executives seeking to maintain competitive advantage...

hotel business plan during covid

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hotel business plan during covid

A hospitality business guide to surviving COVID-19

Staff member standing and holding documents

If you write the word “crisis” in Chinese, there are two characters. One means danger and the other opportunity. 

For hospitality businesses around the world, now is a pretty scary and uncertain time. The challenges of the next few weeks and months are among some of the biggest many will face in their careers, and there is not a business or worker who is unaffected by the knock-on effects of COVID-19.

While safeguarding yourself and your people should be priority number one, smart businesses are already looking for opportunities to better prepare themselves to bounce back stronger, including by investing in better tech to make better decisions.

So, in talking with some of our customers and leaders in the hospitality industry across the globe, we have compiled a list of digital tools, advice and information on Government assistance which can help you get through.

No matter what you do for business, this is an extraordinary and difficult time and while we advise you to consider official websites and information and get personal, professional advice before making any business decisions, we hope this information can help you make sense of the changing situation.

Before we start

In this unpredictable time there are only two certainties which we encourage everyone to follow: listen to the advice of the experts and authorities and protect yourself with good health and hygiene habits . Together, this can help stop the spread of COVID-19 and can help those who are most vulnerable get through and millions of businesses around the world bounce back. 

We are proud of the work you’re doing

The worst in this virus is bringing out the best in the people who work in industries like yours, changing the way you do business overnight sometimes and investing in the people who matter — your employees and your customers — to save as many jobs and offer as many services as possible. We want to support you and your business to come back from this crisis even stronger.

More than ever, businesses like yours need a communications tool to help you and your people stay in touch and informed and we have a few ideas to help.

We celebrate those on the frontline

With the sad and distressing news about vulnerable people coming out of countries across Europe and around the world every day, we are proud of the thousands of healthcare workers who are still doing such an extraordinary job in such unbelievable times. We are proud to support thousands of care home and healthcare workers across the UK and other parts of the world as they take on one of the most important roles during this crisis — caring for the vulnerable.

So remember three things. Stay safe. Stay in touch. Stay calm.

We wish you, your colleagues and families safety, wellness and positivity during these challenging times and we hope you find this ebook useful as you deal with COVID-19.

Get the full guide emailed to you now


Government assistance for hospitality businesses during COVID-19

Amidst these challenges, there is a lot of support for businesses and workers like yours at the moment, so make use of all the help you can get, to get through this challenging period. 

We encourage you to consider some of these options and see if they can help you and your business in the next few weeks and months.

COVID-19 job retention scheme

The UK Government has announced it will pay 80% of people’s wages if their employment is affected by COVID-19, up to £2,500 a month . This is so people who would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis can continue to get the support they need to get through. 

Business rates holiday for hospitality companies

For businesses that are in hospitality, retail and the leisure and entertainment industries, there is a rates holiday available for the 2020-2021 tax year for businesses in England. If your business received a retail discount in the 2019-2020 tax year, that will be reimbursed by your local authority as soon as possible. 

If you run a business in the UK but outside England, we advise you to get in touch with your local authority and see what eligibility criteria apply for you. 


You are eligible for the business rates holiday if:

  • your business is based in England
  • your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector

And your business is mainly using your premises:

  • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
  • for assembly and leisure
  • as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

How to access the scheme

There is no action for you right now. This will be applied to your next council tax bill in April 2020. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill automatically to exclude the business rate charge. They will do this as soon as possible.

Cash grants for hospitality businesses

A series of cash grants are available for retail, leisure and entertainment and hospitality businesses under the UK Government’s Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme. It gives some of those businesses in those sectors affected by the COVID-19 crisis a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.*


There are similar criteria for this as there is above, but as always you should check official websites and check in with your local authority to make sure you’re getting the most up-to-date information.

Deferring VAT payments

All businesses will have VAT deferred for three months, running from 20 March 2020 to 30 June 2020. The Government’s advice is that this is automatically applied to all businesses so you won’t have to make an application to access this. If you’re a business which pays its VAT or income tax via direct debit, you should make sure you cancel it .


Help with paying your people while they’re sick

It can be tough covering things when you have sick staff at the best of times , but it’s even more stressful these days. Businesses with fewer than 250 people working there will be able to claim two weeks’ worth of sick pay back from the Government if they have been off work because of COVID-19 .

Support for self-employed businesses

For the many business owners who are self-employed, you can apply for assistance to get a cash grant of 80 per cent of your average monthly trading profit over the past three months, capped at £2,500. While this will help businesses such as small restaurant or bar owners, who will often have several people in your team, if your taxable profit above £50,000, you will be excluded from the scheme.

As well as the limits on the number of staff, there are a number of other things to consider:

  • the size of an business is defined as the number of people they employed on 28 February 2020
  • you should maintain records of staff absences and payments, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note

Loans and finance for businesses affected by COVID-19

There is a loans and finance scheme in place for businesses whose trade has been interrupted by COVID-19. Up to 40 lenders will be able to administer the scheme to businesses like yours, including all the major banks. 

This means businesses like yours could be eligible for access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to six years. The Government will cover the interest payments for the first year and any fees levied by your lender, as well as offering a guarantee of 80% (subject to pre-lender cap on claims) to give lenders the confidence to assist you in getting access to finance should you need it. 


How to set your hospitality business up to bounce back

There’s not a business or a person in the world unaffected by COVID-19 . While advice from authorities and experts must be followed at all times, we understand many hospitality businesses are struggling and many have had to make incredibly difficult decisions. 

But beyond that, there are opportunities to make a few smarter decisions now to put yourself in a better position to bounce back when normal business trade resumes.

Look after your people

We know this is a really stressful time for everybody working in and around the hospitality sector, especially those who are shift-based workers in your business and face lengthy periods without regular income. While we urge and support Governments helping those affected with survival payments as soon as possible, we also urge you to look after them.

Check in on their mental health , make sure you’re as clear and regular in your communication as you can be. And make sure they know about the abundance of support measures from Governments, charities and other organisations for payments, mental health and other information when they need it the most. 

Your people are the best asset in your business. When you need to bounce back after this crisis, discerning consumers will look for good people and good experiences in your business to spend their money. Remember that while outstanding experiences like meals, accomodation and entertainment is what makes your business work, it’s outstanding people — the ones already working for you — who make that all possible.

We believe the way you treat your people will make or break your business. For our guide in treating people right and making better business decisions, head over to our new blog post here .

Update your employee handbook

The next few weeks could be a great time to review your current policies and procedures to make sure your people are informed of the way you run your business, your expectations of them and how to keep themselves safe while they’re at work.

For tips on how to write a better employee handbook, have a look at our exclusive guide for the hospitality sector here . 

Free employee handbook

Keep your social media active

A vibrant and active social media channel is a vital part of any employer branding or good hospitality business marketing, but in the challenging times of COVID-19 it is even more important. 

A significant number of the world’s office workers are now working from home and spending even more time online than they normally would, so this is a chance to increase your content output, share information about changes to your business and connect with those who are looking for something to stop them scrolling right now.

If you’ve got a good news story — whatever that might be — share it. Like the vision of Italians singing with each other on their balconies amid social isolation, good stories is what the world desperately needs right now.

For your tips to maximise social media for your restaurant, download our exclusive guide here.

Phone in hand

Get your menu back to basics

If you are having to make do with fewer hours and fewer people for the next little while, think about reducing your menu options to a few basics and do them well. Perhaps you’ve got a signature dish or special that none of your competitors can master or maybe you have to get creative with ingredients until the shops are restocked. 

Either way, getting back to basics can save time and money and help you prepare to go back full scale once the crisis passes.

We’ve got a guide on how to optimise your time and better manage your restaurant’s costs — take a look at our recent blog here .

Use delivery partners

If you think about more of the world’s population staying from home for longer than they normally would — and stresses at supermarkets everywhere, people are likely to run out of inspiration for cooking. If medical advice allows it, make sure you’re registered with as many delivery partners as you can, especially the ones which are now practising safe social distancing by minimising contact with customers at their front door.

Dining in your restaurant, bar or cafe might be on hold for now but getting your goods to people in their homes is a way to keep things ticking over until you can bounce back.

We have some exclusive research about the changing habits of diners — and people’s use of delivery partners — take a look at the data here to see what it means for your business. 

Scooter illustration

Use a loyalty program

Look after the people who are using your business at the moment and reward their loyalty. Maybe it’s a discount code if they order using a delivery partner, or having their tenth order free. Package up a deal that acknowledges a customer’s loyalty now, rewards them for it and sets them up to be an ambassador for you later. Thanking people for supporting your business now will pay big dividends once the market bounces back after COVID-19, so look after your loyal fans!

Look at your staff growth/development plans

Your people are the best asset in your business. And a recent survey we conducted with our friends at the Hotel, Restaurant and Catering Show — the biggest UK hospitality survey — shows 50 per cent of hospitality workers think you should invest more in training and development for their careers. 

Get your copy of the UK hospitality survey

Over the next few weeks, use the opportunity to ensure you’re thinking about ways to keep your people up to date with the latest trends and innovations, that all safety requirements and qualifications are complied with (and up to date in Planday) and that everyone who works for you has a chance to grow and shape their career.

It’s an essential part of good employee engagement , it will help keep your best people for longer and will make a real and positive difference to your business in the long run.

You can download your how-to guide at best-practice employee engagement here .

Stay safe. Stay informed. Stay in touch.

These are the most important things you can do right now to help your business — and the people who work for you — to get through.

A woman

How we can help

Planday is a communications tool to help you and your people stay in touch and informed. As COVID-19 continues to challenge the way we work and the situation changes rapidly, here are a few key features we suggest you use in this period. 

Shift swaps, changes and flexibility

As the situation with COVID-19 changes rapidly, businesses like yours will need to be as quick and agile as possible, understanding that your staff’s availability can change in an instant. For our tips on managing this quickly and simply, read here .

The man is writing a message on the phone

Quick templates to manage unexpected changes

No two days will likely be the same in the coming days and weeks, but using templates will help you get a head-start on whatever changes are thrown your way. Have a look at how some of our templates can help you schedule smarter.

Trigger notifications to instantly alert your employees

When things change quickly, it is vital to keep your people informed. Planday lets you send notifications and updates to your staff quickly, with notifications to make sure everyone gets the message at the same time. See how here .

*Please note: SMS messages may incur additional fees

A phone

Communicate with everyone in one go

It is more important than ever to make sure everyone is informed and no one misses any message. Planday helps you communicate with all your employees in one go. You can read more about it here .

Optimised scheduling: get the right person in the right place

Now is more important than ever to make sure you have the right people in the right place at the right time. To see how Planday helps you schedule by position so you have the right person every time, see here .


We support you

Look after yourself. look after your people. .

We know this is a really tough time for a lot of people and the challenge of living in the COVID-19 crisis changes every day. We are proud to help thousands of UK businesses as a communications tool that brings your team together in tough times like this .

We encourage you all to continue to monitor and follow the advice of medical and scientific experts - to stay safe and look after each other as we face this global crisis together. 

We wish you, your colleagues and families safety, wellness and positivity during these challenging times.

The woman is drinking coffee

This piece is general in nature and should not be taken as professional, legal or qualified advice. Before taking any action at this time, we urge you to read the terms and conditions of each of the relevant agencies and seek your own specific professional advice before making any business decision. All information has been sourced from Government agencies and websites and links are contained within. Information was sourced and up to date as at 27 March 2020 local time. 

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hotel business plan during covid

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Lemon Tree Hotels: managing business during COVID-19

Chetan joshi.

1 Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Kolkata, India

Rita Karmakar

2 Amity Institute of Psychology and Allied Sciences, Amity University, Kolkata, India

Associated Data

The present study is based on secondary data acknowledged in the reference section.

On 30 January 2020, the Director General of World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak (2019-nCov) [hereafter COVID] as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. By 7 March 2020, global tally of reported COVID cases had crossed 1,00,000. Taking cognizance of the situation and to stem the increase in the number of cases, India went to a 21-day lockdown on 25 March 2020. Lemon Tree Hotels (LTH), India’s largest mid-priced Indian hotel chain, with 84 hotels in 51 destinations with 8300 rooms and over 8000 employees, was expected to be impacted. This case study highlights the challenges LTH faced during lockdown and unlock period. It also highlights the strategies adopted by LTH leadership to keep in mind the interests of their stakeholders and keep the business afloat during the pandemic.


In December 2019, COVID appeared in Wuhan, China. On 30 January 2020, the Director General of WHO declared COVID as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. As of 29 July 2021, the World Health Organization COVID (World Health Organization n.d.) dashboard reported more than 195,886,929 confirmed cases and 4,189,148 deaths. As on 28 July 2021, a total of 3,830,124,730 people received vaccination. In India, Kerala reported the first case of COVID on 30 January 2020. COVID, a highly infectious virus, created panic in the minds of the population. A “Janata Curfew” (people’s curfew) was announced for 22 March 2020 (Chandna and Basu, 2020 ). Later, Government of India declared nationwide lockdown in four phases starting from 25 March 2020. The unlock phases started from 1 June 2020 (Soni 2021 ). Lockdown and unprecedented travel restrictions directly impacted the hospitality sector. With stay-at-home orders, social distancing, travel and mobility restrictions, all types of bookings for hotels–corporate, retail, leisure, meeting, events and conferences–got cancelled or postponed during latter part of Q4FY20 and first two quarters of FY21. The leadership team of Lemon Tree hotels (LTH), a mid-priced Indian hotel chain Patanjali Keswani started in early 2000s, had to devise strategies to keep the business afloat during the pandemic.

Using LTH as a case study, we describe the role of leadership in managing business during a pandemic. We draw data from secondary sources such as articles on LTH on the world wide web, media coverage and annual reports available on LTH’s website and YouTube videos featuring members of LTH top management team.

COVID emerged in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. This highly contagious virus could purportedly spread through inhalation of airborne particles or contact with asymptomatic individuals or touching of contaminated inanimate surfaces on which the virus could purportedly survive for long periods. As it became a pandemic, 1 the suggested approaches to reduce transmission included: social distancing (keeping a distance of at least one metres), frequent hand washing, sanitization, wearing of face masks in public and increased ventilation of erstwhile closed spaces. Many cities/nations imposed varying degrees of lockdown. With no effective cure/medicine available and reeling under the social isolation due to the lockdown, COVID also brought in increased levels of stress and anxiety. Research findings revealed that as on June 2020, 40% of US adults experienced negative mental health symptoms, with 11% having suicidal ideation (Czeisler et al. 2020 ). An online Indian survey reported that about 40.5% of the participants reported anxiety or depressive symptoms and about 74.1% of the participants reported a moderate level of stress, and 71.7% reported poor well-being (Grover et al. 2020 ). Spending most of the time at home had increased excessive use of internet and excessive watching of television which may lead to technology addiction (Dixit et al. 2020 ; Zandifar and Badrfam, 2020 ). According to UNESCO ( 2020 ), approximately 0.32 billion students in India were affected by school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There were also media reports of stigmatization of frontline workers across occupations. In some nations, Chinese people and Chinese restaurants faced discrimination. Initial measures like contact tracing and words like super-spreaders also led to use of stigmatizing language (e.g. COVID suspect).

The global economy bore the brunt of the raging pandemic. In 2020, the GDP of China, France, Spain and Italy fell by 36.6%, 21.3%, 19.2% and 17.5%, respectively (The Indian Express 2020 ). COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on India’s GDP as well. The GDP for the April–June 2021 (Q1) quarter dropped by 23.9% in comparison with Q1 quarter of 2020 (Economy 2020 ). The Indian economy saw the first impact during January–March 2020. With complete lockdown enforced from 25 March 2020, domestic as well as international travel was badly hit with immediate impact on the hotel industry in India.

Lemon Tree Hotels (LTH)

Founded in early 2000s by Patanjali Keswani, LTH was India's largest and award winning mid-priced hotel chain (see Appendix 1 for LTH’s mission, vision and core values). LTH operated across a wide range of segments such as upscale segment, upper mid-scale, mid-scale and economy. In 2018, LTH was listed on the National Stock Exchange. As of 2019, it operated 8300 rooms (room-to-staff ratio of 1:1) at 84 hotels across 51 cities under various brands like Aurika Hotels and Resorts, Lemon Tree Premier (LTP), Lemon Tree Hotels (LTH), Red Fox Hotels (RFH), Keys Prima, Keys Select and Keys Lite. By 2022, LTH planned to be present in 68 cities in India and abroad with 10,765 rooms in 109 hotels (Annual Report 2019 – 20 , Lemon Tree Hotels Limited, p. 5). Lemon Tree Hotels operated in most of the metro regions, as well as tier I and tier II cities such as Pune, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Indore, Aurangabad, Udaipur, Visakhapatnam, Kochi, Ludhiana, Thiruvananthapuram and Vijayawada. In December 2019, the company expanded globally with the launch of a hotel in Dubai and another in Bhutan two months later.

At LTH, Keswani was instrumental in creating an inclusive environment by offering opportunities to people with disabilities (visual and hearing impaired, autistic, Down’s syndrome) and Opportunity Deprived Indians (Amazing Workplace Bureau 2019 ). 20% of LTH employees (more than 1000 employees) were from the disadvantaged (transgenders, acid attack survivors, economically weaker section and educationally backward section) segment of the population (Lal n.d.). By 2021, LTH expected to have 25%–30% opportunity deprived individuals in their workforce (BW Hotelier 2018 ). For its unique initiatives, LTH received many awards and accolades such as “Best Employer of Persons with Disabilities” in 2011 and 2016; National Award in 2012 for being a “Role Model” in providing a Barrier Free Environment to Persons with Disabilities (Lemon Tree Hotels n.d.).

LTH developed a unique career progression plan for all employees so that everyone got a fair chance to be promoted. LTH closely monitored the performance of employees and then classified them into categories such as High Performers and Super High Achievers and promoted employees based on their overall performance. LTH created a culture to serve guests with friendly smile and cheerful greetings. The friendly environment also provided a psychologically safe and home-like experience to guests. They also provided banquet halls, meeting and conference rooms to accommodate family party, conference and office meetings. Not only psychological security but also physical security was primary focus at LTH. They upgraded the security system with updated technology such as 3D walkthrough, cameras powered by facial recognition software and intruder alarm.

In order to increase guest satisfaction, LTH not only provided better offerings at competitive prices but also arranged refresher courses for employees in order to upgrade their knowledge and to retain best practices across the hotels. LTH’s stable hotels (functional for 3 years or more) experienced occupancy level of 79.2% in FY19. Through its partnership with Warburg Pincus, LTH planned to offer co-living accommodation and student housing for migrant employees and students across the country. The company’s total income increased by 13.7% from Rs. 49,207 lakhs during the fiscal year 2018 to Rs. 55,944 lakhs during the fiscal year 2019 (Annual Report 2019 – 20 , Lemon Tree Hotels Limited, p.33).

LTH during lockdown

On 25 March 2020, nationwide lockdown and social distancing were enforced in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Travel restrictions and social distancing created a big challenge for the tourism and hospitality sector. Offices, hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, malls, transportation and almost everything except very few essential services closed instantly. Hotel business was capital-intensive with high fixed costs. A significant portion of revenue came as operating revenue. The initial days of lockdown were extremely challenging for LTH as it was confronted with the possibility of almost zero occupancy in most of the hotels. Keswani (money control 2020 ) noted:

“Earlier Indian hospitality industry was on average witnessing 65 per cent to 70 per cent or full occupancy till the end of the February. First few days of the March were fine, once the things (spread of COVID) started accelerating, the occupancy has gone down to a minimum”.

In FY19, the occupancy rates for Lemon Tree Premier (LTP), Lemon Tree Hotel (LTH) and Red Fox Hotel (RFH) were 78.4%, 74.3% and 77.6% respectively. In FY 20, the occupancy rates for all these segments (for LTP, LTH and RFH occupancy rates were 75.7%, 72.2% and 73.3%, respectively) dropped significantly (see Fig.  1 from Annual Report 2019 – 20 , Lemon Tree Hotels Limited p.18 and Annual Report 2018 – 19 , Lemon Tree Hotels Limited p.8). In May 2020, due to partial lifting of lockdown in some states, 78% of its rooms became operational. The occupancy in hotels was close to 40% with much lower average room rates (ARRs) 2 than the pre-lockdown period. All food and beverage outlets along with its banquet business remained shut, in-room dining remained operational.

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Occupancy rate (%) of LTP, LTH and RFH during FY15–FY 20. Source Adapted from Annual Report ( 2018 – 19 ) and Annual Report ( 2019 – 20 ), Lemon Tree Hotels. Retrieved 23 June 2021 from https://www.lemontreehotels.com/factsheet/Policies/Lemon_Tree_Hotels_Limited_Annual_Report_2019_20.pdf , p.18. https://www.lemontreehotels.com/factsheet/Policies/LTHLAnnualReport2018-19.pdf , p.10

As per the consolidated financial results (Value Stocks n.d.), total income decreased from 203.47 crores (October 2019–December 2019) to 177.28 crores (January 2020–March 2020) [see Table ​ Table1]. 1 ]. LTH needed to ride out the difficulties COVID had brought. It had to keep in mind the various stakeholders who would be impacted as a result of the unfolding scenario. Given the overall uncertainty, LTH was not at all sure about the severity of COVID and its impact. Hence, Keswani and the top management team started did scenario planning. Given the capital-intensive nature of hotel business where ARRs 2 were contingent on demand (i.e. strong [weak] demand drove prices upwards [downwards]), top management of LTH estimated that any point of time they would need a certain amount of cash to survive.

Consolidated financial statements for LTH (All figures in Rs Cr.).

Source https://stock-financials.valuestocks.in/fr/lemon-tree-hotels-quarterly-results , retrieved 09 July 2021

In order to survive during lockdown, LTH designed separate strategies to deal with decreasing revenues and manage the requirements/expectations of clients, guests and employees.

LTH: steps taken during COVID

Dealing with decreasing revenues.

The top management team at LTH did scenario planning for possible drop in revenues. They planned for possibilities of revenue drop by 40%, 60%, 80% or one where a hotel would have to be shut partially due to zero occupancy. For each scenario, they drafted three plans so that if a specific plan failed to resolve the issue they could go for another option which they had thought of. Keswani noted:

“(during lockdown the) only one thing that we did which worked in our favour was (planning for) four scenarios: revenue drop of 40%, 60%, 80% and if we shut our hotel. At those level of revenues with different combinations what cost do we need to hit with three or four priorities” (Leadership in the times of COVID- 19 , 2020a ; emphasis of the authors).

In order to control costs amidst decreasing revenues, Keswani also set up few priorities or boundary conditions: LTH would not lay off any existing employees because they believed that employees were their asset not their burden (Keswani, CMD Lemon Tree Hotels 2020a ), and (b) no pay cuts for team members in the lower pay band (approximately 7000 employees) as COVID was the time when these employees needed the most support of the organization. Keswani noted:

“my top management colleagues said that we will take 66% salary cut for next 3 months. And the general manager and equivalent said that we will take 50% and I said that I will take 100%” (Leadership in the times of COVID- 19 , 2020b ).

Other major cost optimization measures included the controlling of electricity and water costs, raw material costs, overhead costs, etc. Keswani informed:

“We could permanently reduce 10% of our power expense plus we decided to go green so last year 5% of total consumption of energy renewable but this year it will be 32%…all put together we reckon there will be 20% saving in our power and fuel expenses” (Fireside chat between Mandeep Singh Lamba and Patu Keswani 2021a ).

LTH did debt repayment on time. An important step LTH took was on-time or before-time payment to its MSME (micro-, small and medium enterprises) vendors. Keswani said:

“Larger companies are not paying them (MSMEs) because they are doing cashflow management by not paying them (MSMEs). So the second boundary condition was in our work system that we will pay all our MSME vendors within 30 days” (Keswani, CMD Lemon Tree Hotels ( 2020b ).

Health and safety of guests

LTH was one of the first hotels Government of India approached for possibility of setting quarantine facilities for travellers. LTH was one of the first movers in this space. It also collaborated with Apollo Hospitals on “Project Stay I” (isolated) to accommodate asymptomatic guests and provide them safe and comfortable quarantine facilities (Lemon Tree Hotels Limited Annual Report 2019 – 20 , p.11). They offered discounted rate for healthcare workers, police and paramilitary forces as well during lockdown (Annual Report 2019 – 20 , Lemon Tree Hotels Limited, p.11). As on 17 May 2021, LTH’s partnership with a number of hospitals under “Support by Lemon Tree” programme resulted in 1039 hotel rooms offered to various hospitals to take care of mild/asymptomatic COVID patients (BW Hotelier 2021 ). Some Lemon Tree hotels (in association with local administration) provided free packed meals to people who needed them during the lockdown. For example, Red Fox Hotel, Alwar worked with the City District Magistrate’s office; Lemon Tree Premier, Mumbai provided free meals to Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation workers; Lemon Tree Premier, Dwarka, National Capital Region provided free breakfast to COVID patients at Civil Hospitals (BW Hotelier 2021 ).

Recounting the efforts of LTH during the second wave of the virus in India, Vikramjit Singh, President, Lemon Tree Hotels Ltd told:

“Our country is at a very crucial stage of the pandemic with the 2nd wave impacting us across most cities of India. This dramatic increase in the number of positive cases, has resulted in an increasing need for quarantine accommodation for asymptomatic people who are either high risk or have been in contact with positive cases. From the beginning of this crisis, Lemon Tree has supported State governments in offering quarantine accommodation and we are now happy to partner with many leading hospitals, including Medanta, Apollo, Manipal, Kauvery and Mahavir. These partnerships are for specific hotels in Delhi, Gurugram, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. We believe it is extremely important for the private sector, especially hospitality, to play an active role in helping the Government control this pandemic” (Ray 2021 ).

At LTH, emphasis was on strict adherence to the guidelines of state and central governments such as social distancing guidelines, continuous sanitization, and wearing masks and gloves. In order to create healthy, safe and hygienic environment, LTH partnered with Diversey and launched the “Rest Assured” programme. Diversey provided LTH US EPA approved safe chemicals, support materials, videos and trainings to LTH employees so that they could run safer than before.

LTH installed sneeze guard in its offices so that employees could work freely and safely. In the first few days of the lockdown, the top management team was on phone calls almost 24/7 and the existing 300 SOPs were rewritten so as to take care of the health and safety of their guests and employees during COVID times. There was constant monitoring of the health of visitors and guests (temperature checking and checking for cold and cough) and constantly cleaned public areas of hotel such as entrance, lobby and washrooms. It also introduced digital platform for booking of hotel rooms and facilitation of check-in/check process. App-based system (QRestro App) was introduced for ordering from the menu and providing feedback. It allowed guests to access digital menus, order online and payments. LTH developed digital housekeeping rules and directories of services to ensure contactless services as much as possible. Overall, electronic payment was also encouraged in order to maximize guest’s safety.

Keeping employees safe

LTH started sanitization and thermal screening before 15 March 2020. They took safety initiative in advance as they were serving quarantined guests. They ordered Personal Protective Equipment kits (PPE Kits) in order to ensure the safety of employees. Keswani stated:

“We (at LTH) will do whatever it takes when we are working in our hotels to ensure that we are not subject to infection” (Leadership in the times of COVID- 19 , 2020c )

LTH provided proper accommodation to 2500 employees (along with employees with disability except Down’s syndrome) so that they could stay in their hotel and no need to travel back at home, because travelling also had some risk of getting infected with the virus. Keswani noted:

“Broadly my (Keswani) big concern now and it will be true for nearly every company is…I have got a couple of thousand guys staying in our guest room as employees and…1200 guys staying in the hotel as guest…these guys and my colleagues have been working above and beyond without exception, now they want to go back home, which is fine, but now we need to replace them… But all these next 2000 guys come from homes… they wany to come back and how do we now ensure that they (employees coming back from home) do not have it (COVID- 19 infection) so that they do not infect each other nor do they infect our guests. We bring them back and for 15 days they will be quarantined in the hotel” (Leadership in the times of COVID- 19 , 2020d ).

They also arranged quarantined centre for those employees who were back in the hotel after lockdown. They organized online training session for employees to accommodate them with new normal situation and tried their best to motivate employees through conference calls, video calls, etc. Special training sessions were also arranged for disabled employees in order to ensure their safety and security while working in the crucial situation. LTH introduced “Lemon Tree Cares” for employees which had the provision of covering vaccination expenses of employees and their families. LTH reimbursed all medical expenses during home quarantined days and for severe hospitalization cases (BW Hotelier 2021 ).

Lessons from LTH’s handling of the business during COVID

Transformational leadership.

Transformational leadership style is a style which transforms followers from within by making them more enthusiastic, energetic and passionate. Transformational leaders are truly inspirational as they can energize and motivate followers to change their overall perceptions to achieve the work goals. Drawing on Burns ( 1978 ) work on political leadership, Bass ( 1985 ) extended the concept for organizational settings and suggested four elements of transformational leadership: idealized influence, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation and individualized consideration.

Idealized Influence: Idealized influence refers to the way by which a leader influences the followers and acts a role model for his/her followers. Leaders who are high on idealized influence set a clear vision for their followers and create a psychologically secured environment which helps followers to achieve short-term as well as long-term goals of the organization and thereby sustain for a longer span of time. Such leaders display a set of ideals and values consistently which influences followers. LTH leaders exhibit idealized influence during the pandemic. One aspect of LTH espoused mission included “Ensuring the well-being and self-worth of our colleagues, who are of the utmost importance to us”. In a tough time like COVID, by setting up and adhering to an important boundary condition of no layoffs and no salary cut for lower level employees, LTH enacted its espoused mission. Moreover, LTH kept in regular touch with employees and cared for the safety and security of employees as well as their family members. Employees with Down’s syndrome were asked to stay back at home as they were vulnerable to infection.

Intellectual Stimulation: Transformational leaders create an open and unique environment within the organization which encourages followers to innovate and come up with their own ideas to deal more effectively. This intellectually stimulating environment encourages followers to come out of their traditional ideas and comfort zone in order to develop a sustainable environment within the organization. LTH leaders successfully created intellectually stimulating environment during crisis period. They organized online meetings, webinars and workshops to provide necessary knowledge to employees and vendors. Keswani commented that the virtual medium of meetings implied that they had, at times, 100 people participating on a call and the traditional hierarchy was broken. People were feeling freer to contribute and offer ideas in the virtual medium. Keswani noted that he had, in fact, taken a step back and was impressed with the ingenuity of the staff at each of LTH’s properties. Keswani, in April 2020, said (leadership in times of covid 2020e ):

“I have 80 hotels all over India…I have also been amazed at the ingenuity they (General Managers of the hotels) are showing as micro CEOs…I find a lot of leadership is emerging…I have taken a step back actually and I am actually very pleased at seeing how some of our people even in the corporate office…even in non-traditional roles are doing stuff which is absolutely exceptional” Keswani, in April 2020, also said (leadership in times of covid 2020f ): “Right now, about half our hotels are open and we have got a couple of thousand employees who have been staying in our hotels in guest rooms for the last one month…and I am amazed at their dedication…here’s the amazing thing we discovered. The staffing per hotel is 40–45% of the staffing that was for the same hotel two months ago. But the occupancy of the operating hotels is still high…it is 60% which means 40% of our employees are doing 66% of the normal work”

Early into the lockdown, the top management team at LTH also demonstrated their readiness for be intellectually stimulated. They tried to find a way to not have to lay off very junior people. Keswani noted:

“Out of 8000 employees...7200 get only 40% of the total wages and 800 get the other about 50% and 10% is like general expense for welfare and so on. What we decided was that come what may, we would not lay off any of those 7200. We would not fire them. We would pay them their salaries which means 40% of our fixed costs we would not touch. Therefore, to save money…everybody (in the Senior rings of the ladder) took a 50% pay cut in LemonTree and I took a 100% cut and in between some took a 70% cut”

Inspirational Motivation: The act of not laying off anyone during the difficult times coupled with the senior management taking a pay cut would have been inspiring and motivating for the staff. It would have strengthened employee morale and consequently enhanced commitment among followers. The leadership at LTH demonstrated “inspirational motivation” which would propel staff towards exceptional contributions going above and beyond the call of duty.

Individualized Consideration . Individualized consideration refers to the way by which the leaders take care of unique requirements of individuals. LTH provided individualized need-based solutions for different segments of employees. They organized specialized online training programme and webinars for opportunity deprived individuals. They also planned differently for different stakeholders. They tried to keep the business ecosystem alive by paying debt on time and caring for MSME (micro-, small and medium enterprises) vendors. In order to ensure safety and security of guests, they partnered with Diversey to launch “Rest Assured” programme in order to ensure safety and security within the hotel premise. The health and safety of employees were ensured through preventive measures in the early part of COVID and through vaccination.

Empathic perspective taking

It refers to capability of putting oneself in the shoes of others. It also refers to the ability to feel for others and understand others’ perspectives. It is the most powerful tool during crisis period (Riess 2020 ). LTH showed perspective taking attitude by redefining the safety and security policies of guests, employees and vendors. LTH tried its best to provide safe and secured environment to all stakeholders. They tried to take care of guest’s perspectives by introducing contactless services in order to gain trust of guests and ensure cleanliness even after pandemic they became the part of “Rest Assured” initiative (partnered with Diversey). They showed compliant attitude for noble cause by strictly adhering to the Government of India’s lockdown principles. LTH took the perspectives of employees by adhering lockdown guidelines strictly. LTH introduced scheme for employees which had the provision to cover up vaccination expenses of employees and their families. LTH reimbursed all medical expenses during home quarantined days and for severe hospitalization cases as well. In addition to guests and employees, LTH leaders took broader perspective of the society and collaborated with hospitals and state government and provided rooms as quarantined centres and COVID hospitals. They also distributed foods packets to those who were in need during lockdown. As a part of social responsibility, they decided to accommodate quarantined guests and also provided accommodation to essential service providers such as doctors and paramedical staffs during lockdown.

Relentless communication

Effective communication is a crucial tool in any organization. In crisis period, effective and transparent communication plays a critical role in any organization. During crisis, effective communication and active listening play an important role (James 2020 ). LTH’s persistent communication and active listening were the key of dealing with crisis situation. Leaders clearly and quickly communicated the information to the group via online meeting and conference calls so that rumours are not going to spread and create unnecessary tension in the group. They reviewed the crisis situation almost on a regular basis and communicated the information to the employees. They also maintained smooth communication with their vendors during crisis situation. During crisis situation, LTH not only communicated with employees and vendors but also with the larger community. They provided resources to the state government, medical service providers and needy people during quarantined and unlock period.

Resilience and emotional stability

Hougaard et al. ( 2020 ) pointed to the critical role of resilience in the face of crisis. Keswani ( 2020b ) defined resilience as “the ability to absorb and bounce back in an adverse situation” and emphasized that “resilience is something absolutely vital for us (managers/leaders) to inculcate” (Patanjali Keswani, CMD Lemon Tree Hotels 2020c ). LTH tried to be resilient during unprecedented times. This required emphasis on staying positive and focusing on aspects in LTH’s control to reduce costs amidst decrease in revenue. The levels of scenario planning (i.e. for revenue drop of 40%, 60%, 80% and needed to shut the hotel) and three possible pathways (Plans A, B and C) for each scenario reiterated that the focus was on never leaving the eye of the ball. They calculated the weighted average of all these expectations based on 6 months, 12 months and 24 months, and they found that they needed so much of cash. They also calculated that in all these scenarios their expenses excluding the interest and principal repayment should be less than or equals to revenue. In so doing, LTH reacted quickly to the rapidly changing situation and planned strategies to deal with the unfolding crisis.

Emotional stability refers to a personality trait to remain stable and balanced in an adverse situation. It is one of the Big Five Personality Traits. The Big Five Personality trait model was originally developed by Fiske ( 1949 ) and later on expanded by Norman ( 1967 ), Smith ( 1967 ), Goldberg ( 1981 ) and McCrae & Costa ( 1987 ). Leaders of LTH tried their best to find out the ray of hope even in a gloomy situation and planned different scenarios by keeping their heads cool and composed. They tried to retain their experienced employees and empower them so that they could utilized the knowledge and experience later on during post-corona era. In an unprecedented situation, LTH top management remained calm and focused on their priorities so that the organization can ride out the difficulties during the pandemic. The top management team under Keswani’s stewardship teaches us the role of emotional stability as an important lesson for managing in a pandemic.

Crisis management vs. crisis leadership

James ( 2004 ) suggested that crisis leadership goes beyond crisis management as it is “not simply management of the situation but acts of leadership whereby the organization, the crisis, and the environment are considered holistically” (p. 7). She noted four aspects of crisis leadership: a corporate mindset that recognizes that one’s organization can be affected due to events outside the organization’s control, an effort to identify an organization’s vulnerable areas, ability to make wise and rapid decisions, and to take courageous action. The case study of LTH provides examples about its top management’s ability to make wise and quick decisions. Using virtual meetings, LTH top management sought inputs from all and even took a step back whenever required. Having taken care of the staff (no layoff and payment of salaries), they had inspired and fuelled the commitment of the staff. They allowed each hotel as a stand-alone unit to contribute efficiently. When approached by the Government of India for help with quarantine facilities, LTH swung into action. Overnight the almost 300 SOPs were rewritten to be applied in COVID times. The hotels continued to operate albeit at lower ARRs. There was also a learning in terms of the realization that going ahead, LTH could get affected by and needed to iron out its vulnerabilities in planning for the possibility of a similar disruption like COVID affecting its operations. LTH realized that hotels could run with a staff-to-room ratio of 0.7 instead of the pre-COVID ratio of 1.0 (Kaushik 2021 ). Keswani also noted (fireside chat between Mandeep Lamba and Patu Keswani 2021b ):

“I am the highest growth asset company in India. I am in CAPEX mode. I have a lot of debt which just got operationalized…(in future) I will build sufficient liquidity cushion. I will write down all my debt and as quickly as I can. I would also look at recycling cash because of the large number of assets we own. And I think the last is that I would revisit my risk management framework”.

LTH, a mid-priced hotel chain in India, opened its first hotel in 2004. In their journey from one hotel to more than 50 hotels (including managed and owned properties), they were also distinctive in a focus to providing opportunities for persons with disabilities and for opportunity deprived individuals. Like other organizations in the hospitality sector, LTH also encountered critical problems during the lockdown and unlock periods. The occupancy rate dropped drastically, future bookings were cancelled and ARRs plunged to low levels. This case study underscores the resilient approach of LTH leaders to deal effectively with the unprecedented situation. In order to serve the country during lock down and the second wave of COVID, LTH offered hotel rooms for quarantine and also partnered with major hospitals to provide facilities for healthcare professionals and mild or asymptomatic patients. In spite of adopting humanistic approach in dealing with pandemic, LTH is still struggling with the bigger question how long they will be able to continue with these services by sacrificing their revenues to a large extent. In adhering to its core values, LTH also took steps to focus on the health and safety of employees. Wherever possible, LTH tried to find avenues for and did, in fact, cut possible expenses. The relentless communication and transformational leadership displayed at LTH provide useful lessons for current/future managers and leaders.

We are also mindful of the limitations of this case study. The major limitation is that it is based on secondary data such as YouTube videos featuring LTH top management, articles and annual reports available on LTH website. Richer detail could have been possible if we had collected data through interviews of LTH top management/employees at various levels/customers. In drawing from secondary sources where LTH management discussed the steps they took to ride out the crisis, we cannot rule out the possibility that we did not get a window into the mistakes or unsuccessful initiatives, if any, at LTH during this period. We did, however, try to capture what LTH management mentioned as the key learnings from their handling of the crisis. Despite the above limitation, the present case study may be useful in understanding the innovative and resilient strategies need to be adopted by leaders in order to deal with an extremely unprecedented situation. We hope this case study inspires confidence and optimism for all of us to face adversity head on.

Appendix 1: Vision and mission of LTH

Vision: The vision of LTH is to be India's largest and finest chain of upscale, mid-scale and economy hotels and resorts.

  • Ensuring the well-being and self-worth of our colleagues, who are of the utmost importance to us.
  • Contributing to the community we live in and to India in general.
  • Delighting our guests, whose comfort, safety, security and well-being is our main reason for being.
  • Rewarding our stakeholders, whose trust motivates us to excel further.
  • Maximizing the efficiency of our processes, to enable us to be the most cost-effective brand offering the greatest value, which our customers have every right to expect.

Core Values:

Health and Safety: We will always focus on ensuring the health, safety, security and well-being of all our stake holders including the communities within which we operate our business.

  • Teamwork –We recognize that superlative performance is always the result of teamwork.
  • Ownership –We always take responsibility for our actions.
  • Respect and Empathy –We always exhibit respect and concern for colleagues, guests and partners.
  • Integrity –We always maintain the highest standards of fairness and transparency in all our dealings.
  • Spirited Fun –We create an exciting and spirited work environment encouraging our colleagues to think freely.
  • Excellence –We always drive excellence in what we do.

Source Lemon Tree Hotels–About Us, Management, Vision, Mission, Awards & CSR, retrieved 30 July 2021 from https://www.lemontreehotels.com/about-us.aspx

The authors declare that they have no financial disclosure.

Data availability


The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

1 Pandemic is a worldwide outbreak of a new disease.

2 Measures the average rate per available room. ARR may be calculated as ARR = Total Room Revenue/Total Number of Occupied Rooms.

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Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Contributor Information

Chetan Joshi, Email: ni.ca.lacmii@natehc .

Rita Karmakar, Email: moc.liamg@08lacisikr .

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