Risk Mapping and Building Customer Confidence in a Post-Covid-19 World

The HFTP Hangouts rounding out the last week of May focused on risk mapping and risk management, as well as how to build customer confidence for the new normal. Here are some key takeaways from the Hangouts to help you plan out strategies to navigate the post-Covid-19 world.

Risk Mapping the Hotel Guest Experience

During this week’s HFTP Europe Hangout, VENZA co-founder Daniel Johnson outlined the nine critical steps to a successful risk mapping. As a member of the HFTP GDPR Task Force, Johnson recognizes an uncanny mirroring of challenges with the data privacy crisis of just a few years ago. While that crisis pales in comparison to the pandemic going on today, he draws valuable similarities that can help businesses develop a plan of action to respond to the crisis.

Whether you are dealing with data regulation compliance or an international pandemic, risk mapping activities require an in-depth look at both the probability and the impact of risks. What is the probability of the issue, what are the liabilities, and what is the impact for not solving the issue?

Risk mapping is an incredibly important activity during a crisis. In fact, the World Health Organization provides “Operational considerations for Covid-19 management in the accommodation sector” that encourage the adoption of an action plan as the very first thing that anyone in the accommodation sector should do.

Nine Steps to Successful Risk Mapping

There are nine steps relevant to creating this action plan in response to a crisis, whether it is data regulation compliance or navigating an international pandemic.

Step 1: Conduct a process registry. Each business should ask themselves, have we identified and described business processes? Have we analyzed to identify threats and vulnerabilities?

Step 2: Assessment completed and documented. Looking at a process like guest arrival, you need to break it down. What is happening at each step – at the physical arrival to the hotel, upon entry or at check-in?

TIP: Do not get stuck on the solutions. You cannot determine risk if you are looking at your solutions; you must assess your risk by looking at your processes.

Only once you are able to do a proper risk mapping and determine risk can you make informed decisions on what is right and wrong for an organization. Many hoteliers are talking about completely contactless door mechanisms. Swapping out every lock in a 150-room hotel – is that the best approach? Will that provide the greatest amount of liability reduction? Is that where you have the highest risk? Focusing on the solution is not the best way to determine risk; you must look at your processes.

Step 3: Roles assignments defined. Who is responsible?When you look at the physical arrival to the hotel involving parking and door access, who is accountable for that step along the way of the guest arrival journey? Who is responsible for the check-in processes?

Step 4: Process risk assessed, and cessation of unsafe processes documented. If you look at a process and have identified risk, you need to eliminate that risk and document the actions you took to do so.

Step 5: Coordinate associates appropriately. Have you organized your team? Have you implemented segmentation, where only certain employees have access to certain floors? Are you using contact tracing? These processes need to be documented.

Step 6: Communicate. Have you defined and published hygiene-related policies? Have they been shared with your team? Are you training your staff effectively?

Step 7: Procedures formulated. Have you documented your hygiene and response procedures? If there is a case of coronavirus or other communicable disease identified on your property, do you have a procedure or plan of action in place to respond – and have you documented it?

Step 8: Agreements/relationships assessed. Have you obtained assurances from your partners or vendors? If they are coming to your property, are they adhering to safety policies like those recommended by the WHO?

Step 9: Evaluate procedures formulated. Are you continually improving and evolving? Are you monitoring your processes for new risks?

The Three C’s to Build Customer Confidence in the New Normal

This week’s final HFTP Hangout focused on the reopening of the hospitality industry. Gregg Hopkins, partner/senior managing director at PROVision Partners, presented his three C’s that you must consider while you are planning operations in a post-Covid-19 world. While these hot topics have cropped up many times in recent hospitality discourse, each Hangout session provides new ideas, new perspectives and insights into what the industry will look like in the months to come.

“C” Is for Cleanliness. Hotels have always strived for cleanliness, but the pandemic has taken customer expectations to a whole new level. Cleanliness will be key to restoring customer confidence in travel and hotel stays. It will no longer be encouraged, but necessary, to keep rooms and property as clean as possible. It may even become mandatory. Will this lead municipalities to inspect hotels and issue grades based on cleanliness and operations the way they currently do restaurants?

“C” Is for Contactless. Hotels are eyeing technology solutions that are high tech but not high touch. AI solutions to handle customer inquiries may become more important than ever in a new era of reduced hotel staff and the elimination of direct contact assistance.

In the rooms, many hotel guests will recoil from touching remote controls, temperature controls and alarm clocks. This is where voice-controlled technology would come in handy.

There is an emergence of tele-med technology, a feature that hotels can embed in their app or distribute as tent cards in the room that connects guests to a local medical professional via video conference. Customers who require medical assistance have an easy, contactless alternative to going down to the front desk or a costly local urgent care for assistance.

Technology can also plan an important role in slashing costs. Hotels should review their existing technology and service agreements for current effectiveness and value. One area where costs can be reduced through new technology solutions is in energy consumption, the most significant operational cost for hotels. Also, when the rooms are not occupied there is no disruption to service – making now the ideal time to implement new solutions and projects.

“C” Is for Communications. Real-time communication with employees and customers is essential. Hotels should create an employee communications plan to build loyalty and demonstrate social responsibility. 

Hospitality businesses should also take the time to improve market messaging in a few ways:

  1. Conduct a marketing audit of all sales enablement materials, website and marketing collateral.
  2. Review your 12-month strategic marketing plan (or create one if you do not have one already).
  3. Re-train your sales staff on how to present new solutions. This ensures consistency and accuracy of your sales message.

If you have adopted new cleaning processes, tell your guests. If you have improved the property through construction, tell your guests. If you have added new technology to enhance their experience, tell your guests. This transparency when you share your messaging will be key to restoring guest confidence and comfort and get people back to your property.

About HFTP Hangouts

HFTP Hangouts will continue through the month of June. Visit the HFTP website for a schedule of upcoming sessions and register to attend as many as you can.

Briana Gilmore is the HFTP Communications Coordinator. Briana can be reached at Briana.Gilmore@hftp.org or +1 (512) 220-4017.

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About the Author: Briana Gilmore