What We’ve Learned From Nine Months of COVID

Sherri Kimes has been on top of the pandemic since the beginning. The hospitality revenue expert and HSMAI Vanguard Award for Lifetime Achievement in Revenue Optimization recipient, conducted surveys right out of the gate, in March and April, to gauge how the industry was responding to COVID-19. With her latest report, Nine Months of Covid: Advice From the Global Hotel Industry, she’s gone even broader and deeper, partnering with HSMAI and Revinate to survey a thousand hospitality professionals in a hundred countries.

“Given that it has been over nine months since hotels started to be affected by COVID,” said Kimes, emeritus professor of operations management at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and a visiting professor of analytics and operations at the Business School at the National University of Singapore, “I wanted to learn more about what they had done, how well their tactics had worked, and to get their advice on best practices.”

While the report paints an overall picture that isn’t pretty — Kimes identifies average decreases in ADR, occupancy, and RevPAR of 31.4, 43.7, and 41.7 percent, respectively — it contains some hopeful notes as well. In an interview with HSMAI, Kimes shared highlights.

What are some key findings from the survey?

  • People are pretty pessimistic about recovery — most of the 1,000 respondents think that it will take at least six to nine months for recovery.
  • There are major cultural differences both in enforcement of restrictions and HR policies.

What results surprised you most?

I don’t know if it surprised me, but I was really struck at the strong cultural differences between Asia Pacific/Middle East/Africa and Europe/Americas.

What can the last nine months tell us about preparing for 2021?

  • The importance of planning and being prepared for all eventualities.
  • The fact that forecasting based on historical data will most probably not work. Instead, focus in on more recent and outside events.
  • For hotels with a strong international base, be sure to keep up-to-date on developments in your client countries to see the impact on travel.

What are your thoughts on if/when a sustained recovery might happen?

At least a year.

Categories: Revenue Management
Insight Type: Articles, Reports