Whether you’re going back to the hotel job that you had before the pandemic began or you’re starting a brand new position at another hotel, you’re no doubt relieved to be heading back to work.
Keep in mind, however, that the Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect how hotels are operating. In turn, those operational changes and new procedures impact the hotel staff’s day-to-day work.
New cleaning protocols
First and foremost, it is essential for hotels to keep both guests and employees safe. So expect to see heightened cleaning and hygiene practices now in place. These new practices may not only affect housekeeping, but all staff working at the property.
For example, after each guest or a group of guests use the lobby facilities, front desk staff may be required to immediately sanitize that area immediately after guests leave from it.
Also on the topic of new cleaning practices, some hotels may not be offering daily housekeeping services to guests in order to keep staff safe. Other hotels may be asking guests to notify the front desk when they vacate the room each day so that housekeeping can safely enter to perform their duties.
In either case, front desk staff will be made aware of the new policy so that they can inform guests and answer any questions that they may have pertaining to housekeeping. In hotels where daily housekeeping is no longer the norm or is perhaps optional, front desk staff will also need to know how to properly respond to guests asking for daily housekeeping, fresh towel deliveries, etc.
Social distancing protocols
You may be asked to ensure that guests respect these social distancing measures by politely asking them to congregate in groups of just three or four and have other members of their party make use of the surrounding pod seating.
Plus, public spaces may now be arranged differently in order to accommodate for social distancing. So rather than have large amounts of seating clustered around coffee tables so that guests have opportunities to interact with each other, seating may now be arranged in “pods” that are six feet apart and limit the number of people who can congregate in that area.
It’s also important to remember that, social distancing restrictions have resulted in little to no group and meetings business for hotels. Additionally, depending on where the hotel is located and the day of the week, it’s very possible that occupancy rates will be significantly lower than they were pre-pandemic. So staffing levels may reflect that.
New operating protocols
Many hotels have also come to realize that they need a Covid-19 quarantine protocol and staff may be educated on this too. That’s to say, if a guest tests positive for Covid-19 during their hotel staff, the hotel must have a plan in place for taking care of that guest while also keeping staff safe.
If the guest has tested positive and only shows mild symptoms, they may not be ill enough to be hospitalized, but still must self-isolate. If that’s the case, they won’t be able to travel back home. In that case, the hotel will likely have a care-of-duty to continue to house the guest until they are well enough to travel again.
The staff will need to be notified of the situation in order to ensure that they do not enter the guest’s room at any time during the self-isolation period and also that they do not put other guests in surrounding rooms or possibly even on the sick guest’s floor.
Staff can also expect to be reminded of the sick guest’s right to privacy. So don’t be surprised if the hotel’s quarantine protocol requires that other hotel guests are not notified of the situation and that hotel employees refrain from discussing details of the situation beyond accommodating the needs of the diagnosed guest.
Staff will need some additional training for the new safety and cleaning protocols, as well as how to interact with guests.
Of course, staff and guests will also be required to wear a mask at work for the foreseeable future. This is in line with the practices of so many service-focused businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.
But for hospitality workers, it especially poses a challenge when greeting and interacting with guests. Guests won’t be able to see you smiling at them, nor will you be able to shake hands. So don’t be surprised if your hotel trains staff to greet guests with a new gesture, such as putting your hand to your heart.
Front desk staff may find that much has changed with their daily duties and need additional training. For instance, more and more hotels are turning to technology in order to allow guests to self-check-in and self-check-out. While this seems contrary to what the hospitality industry stands for, it is intended to minimize contact between guests and staff. Thus, keeping everyone safe.
Employee sick leave
Hotel employees themselves should also anticipate new sick leave policies at work. For one, plan on being sent home immediately if you exhibit any symptoms of illness while at work.
Also, you may be required to have your temperature taken every time just before the start of your workday. Again, this is in the interest of both all hotel guests and staff.
Hotel staff may also receive more paid sick time than in the past as hotels realize that when employees show symptoms of illness or test positive for Covid-19, they and their families will need as much of the hotel’s support as possible.
Hotel dining option changes
Hotel food and beverage offerings have also changed greatly as a result of Covid-19. Because of lockdown restrictions and social distancing, fewer people are dining out. So restaurant operations have been less profitable.
Consequently, many full-service hotels have closed their restaurants during the pandemic or have limited offerings such as pre-packaged food available at quick-service kiosks in the lobby.
Some may offer in-room dining while others may suggest guests order food through services like Doordash in order to help support local restaurant businesses.
Regardless, you’ll want to know exactly what dining offerings are available to hotel guests so that you can better answer their questions and keep them informed of their options.
Also, in the event that a guest is forced to self-isolate at the hotel, staff will be obligated to assist with his or her dining needs as well as the hotel’s associated policies in delivering food to their room.
Whether that’s in-room dining or food deliveries from outside restaurants, hotel staff will likely be told that room service carts and other food deliveries are to be left outside of the guest’s room, with the guest notified of the delivery and able to collect it once staff has exited the corridor.
New responsibility opportunities
Hotels with fewer employees may want their staff to complete training in areas other than those for which they were hired. So don’t be surprised if your front desk role also requires you to help keep public spaces sanitized or if you’re asked to assist another department with administrative duties.
It’s also important to keep these additional job requirements in perspective. When business is slow, the extra duties give the staff a little extra job security. That is, if you’re a front desk associate with little to do, having you assist with other work helps ensure your paid hours at work.
It also gives you more professional experience that enhances your value at the hotel and with future hotel employers. Go about the extra duties with a positive attitude and you can further demonstrate your value to your supervisors.
Additional booking flexibility
Finally, with so many hotels suffering from historically low occupancy rates, many have turned to rent rooms for day use. In other words, hotels have recognized that while people are stuck at home, not traveling, and not going into the office, many are eager to find local workspace separate from their home.
Some hotels have been filling the void by offering room rates for the day, giving local professionals a quiet space to work before returning home to their families in the evening.
Don’t be surprised if some guests are checking in during the morning and checking out at quitting time. Like traditional business travelers, they will likely have questions about hotel WiFi networks, hotel business centers, and in-room dining options. So make sure you’re up-to-speed on the hotel’s current services for business travelers.