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How can hotels adapt to the coronavirus lockdown?

21st April 2020
Reading Time
7 minutes
GWS Team

If you manage a hotel, guest house or bed and breakfast establishment, under the coronavirus lockdown rules, you’ll surely have been required to close your doors to your usual paying guests who have made bookings, whether directly or through third-party bookings agents and websites.

You’ll probably have had to place most of your employees on furlough and may have had to make some redundant. In Bristol alone, it’s been estimated that 4750 jobs in the accommodation sector across 145 hotels and similar businesses have been put at risk by the lockdown.

If your hotel is part of a chain with its own centrally set policies, then you may have to defer to senior management at board level for guidance on what forms of activity may be continued during the lockdown.

But shutting your doors to guests may not have to mean the end of all economic activity for your hotel during the lockdown.

Have you considered offering up rooms to NHS staff, or even to patients with non-infectious diseases?


Turn your hotel into a temporary hospital

There is enormous pressure on the capacity of hospitals to cope with patients during the peak period of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK, and those with less immediately life-threatening conditions who do not currently require access to intensive care units could be helpfully accommodated outside hospitals’ main buildings to ensure that patients with COVID-19 and others having the most urgent needs for care are prioritised for beds in them.

This is one area in which your hotel could be useful during the lockdown. Some hotels have already been turned into temporary hospitals. So if you do have a hotel that has been closed because of the prevailing government restrictions, you could make a real difference to people’s lives here and do some good in society, for which you may feel rightfully proud.

Besides, showing your social values through your actions can improve your branding by moulding an association in the eyes of the public between your brand and virtuous, charitable behaviour. For many consumers of all ages, although anecdotal evidence suggests this is especially strongly prevalent among  today’s younger generations, seeing that companies are doing good is really important, and can make the difference between their wanting or not wanting to buy services from you in the future.

Your business may naturally attract positive publicity through the local press if you do volunteer valuable bed-space for use by our National Health Service.


Give up your hotel rooms for the use of NHS staff

Similarly, a great many front-line NHS staff, including doctors and nurses, as well as hospital administrators and cleaning staff, are having to take extra care during the coronavirus outbreak not to infect patients or their families or flat-mates.

If an NHS professional lives with a partner, family or any other housemates or flat-mates, then if a single one of those co-habitants becomes sick with symptoms that might be attributed to the novel coronavirus, the NHS worker is required to self-isolate at home for fourteen days, which means taking them away from their vitally important job helping to save lives in hospital. What a waste of precious human resource!

Conversely, there may be issues surrounding co-habitants with underlying health conditions who themselves are at elevated risk of serious complications or death in the event of becoming infected by the new coronavirus. To protect these people from infections picked up by the NHS professional elsewhere, whether in the healthcare setting or while travelling on public transport to or from work, is another important goal.

 It’s therefore especially advantageous from a public health perspective at this point in time for all NHS staff to have separate accommodation. So why not put your hotel to good use?

In parts of Bristol, the local health care trusts have been willing to pay hotels to offer up accommodation to the NHS. And there are many examples nationally of hotels that have done so.

There is even a national booking system whereby you can register your hotel as being available for the NHS. If this is an option for you, we very much hope you’ll get on board and help in the national effort to save lives!


Offer your hotel to homeless rough-sleepers

Another area in which some hotels, guest houses and hostels have been helping out is the accommodation of rough-sleepers among the homeless.

In late March, it was reported that the current minister for local government and homelessness, Luke Hall MP, had extended permission to all such establishments to keep their doors open to rough sleepers.  A central government initiative was launched to find temporary accommodation for all rough sleepers in order to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus to and among the homeless by providing them with more sanitary conditions.

Bristol council set a target of 450 rooms; and hotel rooms were among the possible accommodation being targeted nationally. By April 2nd, it was reported that 150 of Bristol’s rough sleepers had been accommodated, and by April 7th, this had increased to just over 200, still leaving a shortfall of almost 250 rooms.

So if you have a vacated hotel, guesthouse or bed and breakfast, or even an empty flat or a spare bedroom in your house that you wouldn’t mind giving up on a temporary basis for the good cause of protecting a homeless person from COVID-19 during the most risky time, don’t hesitate to contact your local council to register what you have available.


The coronavirus pandemic is having an impact on many businesses and industries and lots are having to find ways in which to pivot what they offer so they can still trade. Adaptation will be key here. See our infographic on which sectors have remained open and will continue to do so during the lockdown for ideas on how your business could make changes.

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