coronavirus

Dealing with the coronavirus situation in your hostel.

Lior Slepkov News, Operations

In this blog post, we are going to cover the importance of protective measures for the spread of the coronavirus and how your hostel can be socially responsible during these difficult times. We hope that with this, hostels can gain their guest’s trust in them which may also help their economic situation.
*Please note that we are not the World Health Organization (WHO) nor the legal authorities of any country. Each country is finding itself in a constantly changing situation and with its own restrictions and limitations. You should remain updated and take measures based on the recommendations for your area.

The need for social responsibility

Many countries are now taking severe measures to try and control the spread of the coronavirus as much as possible. We are seeing closures of stores, public organizations and people are being asked or forced to stay at home. These measures are being put into place forcing people to self-quarantine for their own wellbeing and for that of others. There is currently no need to panic but we do have a social responsibility which we must take seriously in order to minimize new infections that can collapse the countries healthcare system. If we do not ban together, the coronavirus will spread at an uncontrollable rate and surpass the healthcare system capacity.

See this chart below:

coronavirus impact on heathcare

This shows us that the healthcare system has its limit (number of beds, respiratory machines, trained medics, etc). If as a society we take protective measures, the small percentage of infected people who develop severe cases will receive proper treatment. Furthermore, death-rates will be minimized with proper professional care. If we do not take these measures the number of infections that require hospitalization will surpass the capacity of the healthcare system and treatment will become limited to the resources available. This will also affect the possibility of treatment of other severe illnesses or injuries that require medical attention and/or hospitalization. Some countries are currently in the red zone having to choose which patients to treat and which to let go.

So why is this in a hostel.consulting blog?

We as an industry and every individual hostel must do our part! If we remain open, we must educate our staff and guests in the situation.

First of all, do not panic! Without a doubt, the health implications are serious but not the worst nor the most urgent that exists out there. Look at the (current) mortality rate estimated in 3,4%, which can be compared to 11% in the case of SARS and 34% in that of MERS. This does not mean that COVID-19 is not a serious issue nor a big concern. In fact, currently, it is very much concerning mostly due to the rapid growth in infections.

The WHO has stated that: “The virus that causes COVID-19 infects people of all ages. However, evidence to date suggests that two groups of people are at a higher risk of getting severe COVID-19 disease. These are older people (that is people over 60 years old); and those with underlying medical conditions (such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer). The risk of severe disease gradually increases with age starting from around 40 years”

Our industry generally hosts guests of a younger age. These age groups are not completely in the clear and may also develop severe COVID-19 disease if infected. Moreover, they are not immune from spreading the coronavirus to others who may not be as healthy or young. For that reason, Regardless of age, race or nationality, we (our staff and guests) must all take seriously our social responsibility and follow the protective measures.

1) Practice good personal hygiene in and out of the hostel

  • ALL STAFF (not limited to cleaning staff) must disinfect commonly used/touched surfaces and areas. Ensure to have a sufficient supply of disinfectant on hand to last 2 months.
  • Limit cash transactions (the hostel should consider implementing a tab system to minimize transactions and accept contactless credit cards).
  • Greet people without contact (no handshaking or two kisses on the cheek).
  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly for 20 seconds especially after sneezing, coughing or touching surfaces. The hostel should post an informative poster in the washroom and kitchen with instructions on proper handwashing procedures.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.
  • Keep a distance of one meter between you and others.

2) Avoid going out as much as possible

  • Advise travelers that if they leave to go exploring that they do so in small groups (or better yet alone). When they do, they should avoid contact with surfaces, keep their hands away from their faces and wash them properly upon return to the hostel.
  • Eat-in instead of going to restaurants. The hostel should be able to provide 3 meals daily avoiding the need for travelers to go out for food.
  • Work remotely whenever possible (both staff and guests).
  • Create safe indoor activities all day long for your guests to keep them entertained without the need to go out. Think movie/Netflix night, storytelling events, local cuisine experiences, language lessons, etc (no twister please!).
  • Avoid public transport. Alternatively, walk or take a taxi.

3) Focus your communication and marketing for “staycations”

A staycation is a holiday spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or at home involving day trips to local attractions. Although our guests might be away from their home or country, a hostel is usually a “home away from home”. Travelers in the current situation are best to stay in one place living with the advised/imposed protective measures. This avoids unnecessary means of transportation where the risk of infection is higher.

  • Consider offering a longterm discount for travelers who wish to stay with you while fulfilling their social responsibility. Include daily meals in their longterm rate. As your occupancy is being hit hard, giving a reduced rate for a longterm stay can help minimize the impact on revenue.
  • Give guests information sheets on the coronavirus and on the social responsibility you are following and expect them to follow.
  • Send out pre-arrival emails to communicate what the hostel is doing to provide a safe haven for its guests and communicate your longterm stay initiatives. This way, guests that are coming to you can feel safer and more at home. With a reduced long-term rate, they may consider staying and riding this wave out with the hostel instead of moving on to another destination risking infection and further spread of the coronavirus.

4) Prepare for an inhouse infection.

  • At check-in, give your guests information on the symptoms and have them inform you if they are experiencing them.
  • Have a thermometer on-site and properly disinfect it after each use.
  • Know the local procedure for reporting a possible infection (DO NOT SEND THE GUEST OR STAFF TO THE HOSPITAL).
  • Create an isolated space for a potentially infected guest or staff. If your occupancy allows it, leave one room empty to be used in case of the need for isolation of a person (preferably with a private washroom).

We must act quickly and constantly adapt ourselves as we continue to do our due diligence to control the situation and take care of ourselves, our staff, our guests, and our society. If we do our part and are socially responsible for taking protective measures hopefully we will see a quick decline in the infection growth and a quicker bounce back in tourism and our industry.

For more coronavirus insights and how to deal with the situation see our interview with Stay the Night

In further efforts to support hostels during these difficult times, we are running a social media giveaway alongside Stay the Night. One hostel will receive a FREE free Sales Analysis and Action Plan (courtesy of hostel.consulting) and a full Digital Marketing Audit (courtesy of Stay the Night). You can enter the giveaway draw on our Instagram page.

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