Blog: Hibernation to Re-emergence – How the Hospitality Sector is Evolving

By KRaynes

Hibernation to Re-Emergence: How the Hospitality Sector is Evolving

Coming back to work from Covid-19, so where do we start?

HR in Hospitality Blog: Esther O’Halloran, Chair HR in Hospitality & Georgia Rothon, Committee member, 30 June 2020


Event Hosted by James England, Fourth

It was great to hear from the experience of key players in our industry on what they have been doing to get ready for reopening. Here is a summary of what they have been up to and maybe some ideas you could also try….


Cheval Collection (Mari Warby)

Their serviced apartments have remained open throughout the pandemic as for many it is their permanent home. Safety and security has been a priority.

Working patterns: Teams are working 7 days on 7 days off and stay in the apartments, there is a paid taxi first and last shift to get them to and from home, even had some families staying in with the team so not having to leave them at home and this has helped with mental wellbeing, removed stress. Big commitment allowing family to stay over too. Teams have embraced the change, not having to travel and stay in the lovely apartments.

Training, lots of training: has taken place to change the guest and colleague journey and a constant refresher training. Journey starts before guest arrival, pre-arrival what to expect will be a little different.

Technology has been embraced: Eurostatic sprayer is used for cleaning as padded hangers have been removed altogether, also use ultra violet lights to sanitise key boards etc so using tech to help keep safe. Revised the welcome packs and include hygiene hampers which contain, mask, gloves, tissues, sanitiser gel and wipes this is an added thing.

Is this all profitable, what does it cost? Safety and security is the priority so the investment has been made, cleaning time has been added in for all of the apartments on a marginal basis. Team engagement: to ensure wellbeing of the teams they have looked at how communication happens with teams, (were used to face to face briefings in the canteen) many have now embraced technology using Zoom, Teams, for virtual meetings and using Talent Toolbox as intranet for comms. As a result, they have seen a great increase of people logging in to find info. Message from George CEO, who gives an honest update on Cheval and the industry, how the business is doing. Keeping it fun, also had bingo evenings virtual drinks etc. One of the big things is mental health and looking after colleagues, teamed up with ‘Mental Health First UK’ and they have been looking at data and holding workshops and anonymous survey for the ‘Start Well’ programme with tangible ideas on what can be done to help colleagues on an ongoing basis.


Bankside Hotel (Marjolein Verhoven)

Activities have been running for all staff including those on furlough on a weekly basis, Monday to Sunday to keep people engaged they have produced a weekly newsletter fully understanding that many people are stuck at home, so they have taken this into account.

Team engagement: Mondays Masterclass getting a different ‘Banksider’ (colleague) to create and present a skill they have, cooking, cocktails, bread making, painting and have learnt a lot about their people they did not know before. Museum challenge on Friday to create a piece of art work from anything to hand, Simple Sunday posting a picture about their home, view from their window or favourite place so it was very social, and everyone got on board.

Preparing for opening:  plan to involve employees in the opening decisions who are on the front line, consider what creative solutions they can come up with to deal with lack of touch points in the business.  Key is to listen to employees and their individual needs and work with them to bring them back so that they feel confident, safe and secure.   Always look at sustainable solutions using iPads in the room, review what it is in the rooms without taking away too many amenities.

Use Apps: such as Engage from Fourth where they have seen a rise to 97% engagement on the platform since lockdown up from 40% pre-Covid. Things will change from an employee perspective, use a screening App to ensure people are still healthy and well, we will need to move some of the shift times and duties so will require flexibility.

Is the mindset changing? Once people have been furloughed for many months you will need to remember that people will have experienced the lockdown in many different ways, some will have enjoyed time with family whilst others will have struggled. Some may still be afraid to come back to work so this will take time to adjust and consider how people might feel and ensure they feel safe to come back to work.


Standard Hotel Steve Williams

Only opened the hotel last year and so will be able to use the original opening critical pathways to help plan for reopening. Phased reopening of different areas and bars of the hotel will take place a week later than other hospitality companies to reopen, this enables them to refine plans and see what works for others. They have the benefit of outdoor space so plan to utilise extensive outdoor space and expanding some of these into the pedestrian areas adjacent to the hotel. Due to the slightly off-location on the opposite side of the Euston Road they need to plan a lot of quirky points of difference to attract people over to the hotel away from the squares around Kings Cross. Pivot and use internal spaces for extra seating if the weather turns, team are very excited about coming back.

Flexibility: in terms of business level, menu offerings and how they operate is key.  Adapted some of the menu offerings putting a lot of thought into the cost and labour of producing some of the items, simplifying for the teams to limit numbers on site in kitchens at any given time.  Adapt and focus on table service so guests not going to the bar to order.

Lesson Learnt from when they opened last year on productivity, busier times, peaks and flows and taking these lessons forward for re-opening will enable them to adapt as required. This has meant extra training has been minimal as many were already cross-trained across the different parts of the business. Also, been utilising FLOW for e-learning modules to keep everyone up to date.

Service Changes? It will be great if there is a queue coming into the bar! Many businesses are used to a lot of walk ins, plus a regular following of clientele, but will need to see how managers will manage the space and flow of guests going forward. Looking at alternative ways to sell products such as via champagne vending machines to ‘pull in’ clientele.  Also, maximising the use of the large outdoor space that they have.  The main hotel will open on 07 August for guest’s so this will need to be factored in, it will be a nice problem to have.

Forecasting and financial aspects: look at your previous data how busy you are on different days to model workforce needs. Forecast worst case scenario to best case on payroll needs, anticipate in first few weeks there may be a euphoric desire for people to be out but plan as this may not last. Interesting as all hotels, bars, restaurants will all be opening at a similar time and will all be fighting for customers in the same space. Forecast and plan for possible second wave or spike and have an operational plan ready to go live if needed.  Short turnaround when it comes to scheduling – they could be scheduling employees for the week in the week, depending on how busy they are – very much managing the unknown.


Everyone in hospitality has really pulled together during this difficult time. There have been some great examples of creativity and imaginative solutions with the utmost care for guests, customers and employees at the forefront of everything we are doing. Let’s hope the reopening plans for everyone is successful and we can all get our businesses back on track and into profit, so we can continue to grow and prosper.


Next event is 23rd July 2020 at 11am “Rebuilding trust with our guests and colleagues”.