Mar 11th, 2020 | 2 min read

Image by Lothar Dieterich from Pixabay


Too early to assess the impact of Covid-19 but not too early to prepare

It’s too early to assess what the overall impact Covid-19 is likely to have on global travel and the hotel industry. However, we know that it’s creating panic and alarm all over the world and my thoughts go out to all those who have been and continue to be impacted by the virus.

So what can we do to try and combat this unexpected pandemic?
Batten down the hatches and hope for the best? Well yes, to a certain degree as hoteliers are assessing the impacts of the virus on their business and re-forecasting their top and bottom lines to stay as agile as possible.  Only yesterday I read a useful article by 80 Days titled ‘How Can Hotels Navigate the Coronavirus’. 

The storm will of course pass at some point and we are already hearing positive reports from Wuhan of no reported cases since the outbreak started as China manages the crisis. In my book that’s a good news story and worth remembering to help us all keep a degree of perspective on the situation.  

A Harvard Business Review published an article on the 10th March on ‘How Chinese Companies Have Responded to Coronavirus’ making particular reference to how Huazhu, an operator of over 6,000 hotels in 400 cities across China, set up a crisis task force to review procedures and issued top-down guidance for the whole chain. 

So on to the evangelisers, our biggest advocates of our brands, core values and those who hold the keys to client relationships – the hoteliers that truly do control the Sales.  What are they able to do during these turbulent times when demand for meetings and events is drying up, cancellations are coming in thick and fast, and some companies have started to impose travel bans.  Can they really still sell?

Well of course, but it will be the smartest and savviest of sales teams that manage to get business back on the books ahead of their competitors, and give their owners reasons to smile again. Here are some of my thoughts as a former hotel sales leader on how they may go about doing that:

  • Grouping contacts ready for communication – perhaps the biggest pet hate of a salesperson is having to get their data organised.  But grab that nettle whilst it’s quiet so that when communications are ready to be sent, they are super personalised, relevant and valuable to that specific audience.


  • Database not strong enough? Then look at where all leads have originated from, be it third party planners or via on-line portals, these are prospects too and will want to know what you’re offering, so be sure these details are entered into your database/CRM and send a communication specific to that audience.


  • Message from Leadership – What’s the word from the top on measures being taken to deal with the outbreak – how will this impact the guests stay during and post virus? Be sure this is then cascaded with your customers and prospects alike – keeping it light yet precise. Nurturing these relationships will be key to build a climate of trust.


  • Agree on a post Coronavirus strategy – Taking time as a leadership team to reflect and agree upon a strategy that will give your hotel the biggest bounce once consumer confidence has returned.  Will it be value driven or price led? What will your audience want? Making a decision early on will rally your teams and present a new purpose. 
  • Get Proactive and engage the total team –  Align priorities and set clear goals for the team whilst allocating new responsibilities. Teams will want to be kept busy and feel that they are contributing, so when the time is right, get the whole team prospecting to help swing demand back.  
  • Communicate – Contacts have been grouped, segments defined, strategy agreed upon – now is the time to communicate and stimulate demand through targeted powerful messages.  Just take a moment to assess the most relevant communication channels available, to drive your message.

Let’s not let the media talk us into a global recessionnobody wants that. So surely it’s time to embrace our teams with a proactive all inclusive approach – focused on bouncing back – taking stock of resources and talent, and adjusting the way we are selling!  Let us ride out this horrible virus and perhaps come out the other end even stronger than before.

 Stay well!


This article was written by Simon Dowell, former sales leader for Marriott International,  now Commercial Director of UpMail Solutions. The article was written from the lenses of a hotel commercial leader.

Based in London, UK, UpMail is a sales tool designed for hotel sales professionals to optimise their MICE and B2B sales, productivity and sales conversion rates. UpMail clients include Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, MINOR Hotels, Radisson Hotel Group, Virgin Limited Edition, Iberostar, CitizenM, and many more. To learn more or book a demo let us know your availability.

HSMAI’s Sales Leader Forum

Read the highlights and key takeaways from the HSMAI Europe Sales Leader Forum held at the Savory Hotel Jan 28th 2020 – Learn how Revenue Management can find its ‘second wind’ by integrating Sales and Marketing

read more