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Our top tips and thoughts on re-opening your business (again!)

by Sarah Brickwood

Hospitality businesses have been on a huge rollercoaster ride over the last 12 months, involving closing, opening and working within new and changing restrictions. In this third lockdown, the demands and challenges of all aspects of re-opening is unprecedented. From managing the human element of your teams and your guests, who have been conditioned to isolation and the safety of their own homes, to the numerous logistical aspects of reopening, it is going to be a hugely challenging undertaking for all concerned.

Our No 1 objective is to help you to prepare for re-opening. There are 5 steps that we believe will support this return to work:

1) Reassure

In our industry, most team members will have found themselves at home more than they have been at work over the last 12 months. It has been a worrying time for so many reasons – financial, job security, loss of friends or family, concern over contracting the virus… and so for many, reassurances are needed now more than ever before. Team members will look to us for guidance and hope through this time.

  • Put your team first; consider their physical safety as well as how they may feel about coming back to work.
  • Be open and supportive about anxieties they may have.
  • Give people time to settle in.

2) Re-engage

Bringing the team back into the workplace after so long away. Many will show excitement about returning and may feel like enthusiastic beginners* to start with, yet this may soon change to them becoming disillusioned learners* when they hit challenges, or realise it is not quite as they expected. To ensure they are fully engaged and feel supported by management, they will need to understand what has happened in the business over the last 12 months and what is now needed.

  • Re-introduce your team to the business.
  • Be open with the team about why decisions have been made to restructure or make necessary changes to job roles.
  • Give recognition for the past 12 months.
  • Clarify job security and opportunities for growth.

3) Re-train

Prepare your teams as best you can. Predictions for leisure hotels are that short breaks and holidays will be in demand. Depending on the date of re-opening, there will be no gentle easing in for our teams, as occupancies are likely to be high once guests are able to book according to Government-confirmed dates. This means that a return to work could be a baptism of fire without the right planning and preparation. Team members will need to have the knowledge, skills and confidence to deliver hospitality to match the guest’s expectations, and in a safe way.

  • Identify the new skills that are needed to support the change and be open about new business goals.
  • Refresh the team on old operating standards and train them on the new, being clear about expectations, goals and objectives for all team members.
  • Think about a plan for each of the following areas:
    • Induction – to what extent do the team who have been at home for up to 12 months need to be inducted back into the business?
    • Compliance, Health and Safety – what training needs to be delivered, what is out of date/ has expired?
    • Covid-safe environment – how do we ensure this is in place for our team and our guests? What do the team need to know? What training needs to be undertaken?
    • Guest Service – in an environment where guest service is going to be even more important than ever before, how will the team deliver amazing personalised guest service? What do we need to do to re-focus them on service as a priority? What challenges do we now face with barriers such as masks, screens and social distancing? How should we handle difficult guests in this new post-Covid world?
  • Deliver training to your team before you reopen. You can do this while team members are on furlough to prepare them for the reopening. Using a virtual meeting environment, the team can be brought together to focus on everything from standard operating procedures and best practice to the guest service experience.
  • Consider using a training provider who can deliver this for you; cost-effective methods now exist and are the norm in this post-Covid world.

Contact us here if you would like to speak to someone about training. We can provide cost-effective, tailored training delivered as live online learning sessions over Zoom. Remember! This can be provided whilst the team are furloughed to prepare them to return to work.

4) Reset

The World has changed so much over the last 12 months, and businesses have been able to adapt to people working from home and using virtual meetings. Consequently, there is now a big opportunity to look at practices we took for granted pre-Covid, and to look at how we may do things differently… and better! Providing flexible working arrangements can save time and money whilst also offering a work-life balance to team members where business needs can still be met.

  • Re-align working practices, such as providing flexibility in hours/locations.
  • Review how roles may look in the future – use this time as an opportunity to embrace change.
  • Identify whether this works for the team with their current personal circumstances.

5) Relate

Re-opening your business will be like opening a new business. Team members will need to adapt, as will the business as everyone finds their feet. Use this time to communicate very clearly to your team and to build on the qualities of the business that existed in our pre-Covid world to create a stronger, focused, happier, healthier business in 2021 and beyond.

  • Cement the business culture.
  • Visualise stronger working relationships and create a sense of belonging.
  • Demonstrate transparency through open and clear communication and regular business updates.

Ultimately if your teams are looked after, motivated, engaged, trained and informed and they feel they matter, you will have a great ethos that not only ensures your teams are happy and contributing, but will help them relate to your guests. This engagement and empathy will translate to memorable guest service.

*Reference- Ken Blanchard- Situational Leadership model

To support you in planning to reopen your hospitality business, we have a two FREE tools for you to download.

  1. We have pulled together this  handy “Thinking Tool” here that enables you to consider all of the actions that will assist you in the re-opening of your hotel or venue. It includes lots of useful links and is organised by department so it can be used with your HODs. It is in Excel format so that you can adapt it to suit your business, and add in your own comments as needed.
  2. In addition, we have created a Well-being Return to Work Guidance document which contains checklists and more in-depth information on some issues briefly touched upon above. This is available here.



If you would like to speak to someone about training for your hospitality business please click here. We can provide cost-effective, tailored training delivered as live online learning sessions over Zoom.