Sid Levy, VP of Talent Management & Associate Engagement at Extended Stay America shares his…
The hospitality industry suffered a massive hit when the pandemic took our world by storm. The first few months were extremely challenging as many hotels had to shut down or barely survived as the months progressed. As other industries slowly began to adapt to the new normal, the challenge for the hospitality industry was even bigger.
The problems faced by the hospitality industry were mainly because the entire premise of the business revolved around hosting people in their luxury indoor spaces, and that was the first thing that the viral disease took away. As a result, the hospitality industry had to really think out of the box and come up with solutions to not only keep their employees engaged but also ensure that furloughed employees remained connected with the establishment until better times.
The concept of shifting in-person events to virtual events began. As many other industries quickly adopted virtual meeting platforms, hotels also had to jump on board. However, they had to do it in a way that provided value for their employees.
As the vaccines have begun rolling out, hotels have begun opening up and things are slowly getting back to normal however most major events are being postponed till summer and after. This also means that for obvious health and safety reasons hotels are not functioning at full capacity which in turn means that they need to continue to engage employees (current & furloughed) as much as possible.
The concept of hybrid events is also gaining popularity as corporate virtual events mix both in-person and virtual elements of an event. This way they can combine both those populations that aren’t able to come to work and those that are at home. This concept is used not only to engage employees but also for customers too. Organizations are able to hold their events at a smaller capacity yet are able to maximize reach and impact.
By working with professional conference organizers, hotels came up with creative solutions to hosting conferences, seminars, business meetings, professional fairs, etc. They started using online event platforms like Zoom, Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, and even social media to increase the outreach of their events as much as possible.
Here’s how hotels engaged both their employees and customers with the help of virtual events!
1. Healthy Lifestyle & Self-Care Events
Hotels that operated on the brand values of personal wellbeing and relaxation quickly took up online virtual platforms and tools to continue offering their services. As the pandemic forced people to stay home and all the gyms closed down, the need for a healthy routine increased rapidly.
Many people struggled with physical and mental wellbeing due to isolation and physical restrictions. The hospitality industry started identifying these pain points and offering people opportunities to practice self-care. They began to offer their employees’ services to their customers using unique solutions and training so people could navigate through the rapidly changing norms with ease. This way employees managed to not only continue working but also remain connected with customers.
Many hotels organized live exercise classes and upload recorded workout routines that people can easily follow at home. Most people don’t have extensive gym equipment at home, and many aren’t able to exercise on their own. Yes, there are YouTube videos and other resources, but none of them can be as tailored as the ones they offer.
Hotels also started working with fitness professionals who can help employees learn more about exercise routines at home, a healthy diet, and other ways of staying active and healthy at home.
Internal employee communications platforms were used to help management and employees share information, health and lifestyle tips, videos, organize events, and also spread the word cross-city & cross country about these events.
2. Virtual Cooking Classes
Hotels, cafes, and restaurants all incorporated innovative solutions to continue engaging their employees. One way that most such establishments chose was to take their audience behind the scenes. They were given access to the entire behind-the-scenes process that goes into preparing all the foods that they have eaten there. They were also given little secrets on how to make gourmet-style food from the comfort of your home.
Moreover, many restaurants started offering online cooking classes via virtual meeting platforms. The cafes taught their customers how to make that perfect latte at home, while high-end hotels offered more comprehensive private online courses to their customers from their renowned chefs and cooks.
Hotels were able to organize these events internally in one location yet have the content be viewed and accessed in all locations with the help of an internal employee app.
3. Meditation & Yoga
Many hotels that catered to the yoga and wellness audience also moved their operations online. The demand for these services also increased significantly in light of the pandemic. People needed more relaxation and distressing options.
As a result, the wellness resorts and hotels began offering online meditation and yoga sessions. More and more people got interested in these services as the lockdowns kept extending and travel restrictions kept increasing.
Meditation and yoga sessions offered by these hospitality avenues helped people work on managing their stress and anxiety and just breathe deeply through the uncertainty of the world situation.
These videos and classes were accessed by all employees in all locations to use as desired with the help of their internal social platform.
4. Skills Development Classes
Some hospitality businesses took it a step further by having their employees offer special skill-building classes to their customers. The skills that are in line with their brand help them connect with their audience.
Moreover, it puts the business in a position where it builds its reputation as an expert voice in the industry.
Hotel employees were able to coordinate and organize these classes on different days in different locations internally for skill-building exercises of their own employees with the help of learning modules that were designed to help employees upgrade or learn new skills.
By doing this they were able to then provide better skill-building classes to their customers.
5. Gardening Groups
Hotels that champion green initiatives have taken this opportunity to connect with their audience virtually and have begun promoting a green lifestyle. Some offer classes on indoor gardening and houseplants, while others teach how to grow kitchen spices and herbs.
Hospitality channels that pioneer homegrown vegetables are offering beginner classes for people who want to get into vegetable gardening, growing herbs. Some also offer floral workshops and herb-making classes.
On the other side, hotels tried to inculcate the green initiative culture internally by promoting employees to take little green initiatives in their own lives too. Employees were able to share their own green lifestyle and inspire other employees to do the same by sharing their pictures, videos, and posts on the hotel’s internal social channels.
If you’re considering doing the same, then make sure you take classes relevant to the current situation for many people. Teach people how to grow and make basic stuff that doesn’t require a lot of equipment or materials.
6. Supporting Communities
The hospitality industry is also contributing significantly to supporting the communities around them. Many host virtual events to raise funds for a cause that they support.
The pandemic affected the healthcare system severely, and several small businesses came crumbling down as well. In times like this, fundraising events offer great support for the community and help businesses stay afloat in times of crisis.
That is why many hospitality establishments didn’t only host virtual events to keep themselves afloat, but they also helped others in their struggle by contributing funds collected as a result of making profits via virtual events.
The hospitality industry has come up with several creative ways to host virtual events that benefit their audience, help to stay connected to their employees, help to maintain a connection between employees and customers, and keep the business running smoothly. There are many professional conference organizers who can help you make that switch from in-person to virtual events. Internal communications platforms can help to not only maintain a connection with your employees but also help to maintain a free flow of valid information from employees to customers too thereby maintaining branding messaging at all touchpoints.
Sarah Hill is a content writer at Seven Events Ltd, a leading event planning company offering corporate virtual events and venue finding services in the UK. She started her career in the events industry almost a decade ago as time progressed she became an avid event blogger sharing her insight on corporate event planning.