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As we all know, 2020 has been a year full of uncertainty and disruptions for many industries, businesses, employees and of course, the general public across the globe. Hospitality and travel have been some of the most affected industries in the UK, with ever-changing restrictions and rules laid out by the Government in reaction to COVID-19 infection levels.

The impact of COVID-19 is clear on hospitality – a highly seasonal industry in normal circumstances. This year seasonality trends have almost disappeared with a reduction in planned travel. Instead holiday-makers have been forced to become more reactive to easing of lockdowns and restrictions, taking their chance to book last minute getaways when they can.

Looking at booking data from our sister company, City Relay, we can start to see some trends emerging for December. Customers are continuing to book at the last minute, but interestingly the average length of each stay is increasing compared to last year. This December we are seeing an average booking length of 9.5 nights compared to 6 nights in December 2019, meaning there is still demand and money to be made from short and long let properties in London.

There is no doubt this year that the lead up to Christmas will continue to be a tricky period for property operations, so we wanted to share our top 3 tips to making sure your Christmas period runs as smoothly as possible, giving guests the five star experience that they have long awaited.

Tip 1: Pay extra attention to small details

This year, Christmas is a time where most guests will be travelling to reunite with their families, friends and loved ones. After a long time in lockdown, most guests will look forward to the festivities like never before, wanting a perfect, much needed break from the current COVID-19 reality. So, it’s more important than ever to focus on getting the small details right, giving customers the five star experience they deserve to make a memorable Christmas for all.

It’s therefore worth thinking about how you can create a Christmas experience within your properties. Perhaps through decoration, welcome messaging in the property, recommendations on Christmas activities in the local area, and perhaps even a bespoke, special welcome package of Christmas treats to make them feel festive from the get go.

Tip 2: Communicate frequently with guests

It’s important that through uncertain times that you communicate as frequently as possible with guests, giving as much information as possible upfront, helping your operations run smoothly. 

Things to consider are:

  • Understand your guests flight details and track any delays, cancellations and early arrivals
  • Guests may not be able to use, or feel comfortable, using public transport. So communicate with them beforehand to help arrange private transfers or alternative travel methods. Be aware that on 25th and 26th December, there are limited public transport options available. This may not be the case in other countries so it’s best to double check travel plans thoroughly, especially with international guests.
  • Organise personal check-ins in advance at the property to avoid the guest having to collect keys from other locations, and to ensure they have all they need for their stay.

Tip 3: Forecasting is key

Running in-house operations is tricky at the best of times, let alone with current restrictions with plans changing almost daily. So you’ll need to focus on getting your forecasting correct and putting measures in place to anticipate any problems. Focus on:

  • preparing a comprehensive forecast of bookings and required staff levels across agents, cleaning, maintenance, guest and host teams
  • organising a standby list of available employees should you need to react to a last minute surge in customer bookings 
  • ensuring all properties are inspected prior to each guest arrival to avoid any maintenance issues arising in the middle of the night – with those high emergency surcharges and costs
  • following up regularly with guests during their stay, ensuring they know how to use all utilities and try to troubleshoot problems before they arrive
  • complete timely check-out reports to fix any maintenance issues and also to collect any damage deposits required

One of the top reasons for outsourcing your operations to a company like City Relay Solutions, is increased flexibility and reducing financial risk, especially at a time like this. It is our responsibility to provide you, the client, with robust forecasting, regular updates, and sufficient availability of staff across each service. So you can sit back, relax and know everything is taken care of for you.

We at City Relay Solutions are here to help you, not just through December but throughout the whole year. We provide our clients with 24/7 guest support & concierge, professional five star housekeeping, hotel quality linens & amenities, property maintenance and compliance services.

We package these services into a bespoke solution for each client, meeting and exceeding your brand standards and values. Our ability to interpret and deliver these standards is central to how we build trust and develop long term partnerships with all of our clients. Contact us today for more information and a proposal about how we can help you with your property operations.

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