How and where to find practical help:
With new cases reported in the news every few hours, it’s easy to get swept up in panic about future booking cancellations, the risk of coronavirus infection from guests and how it might affect your business. But do not forget that actually, most people who catch this virus are swiftly recovering.
Nevertheless, in these difficult times, it is important to know what measures you can take to protect yourself, your business and your guests. Whether this is about handling booking cancellations, saving whatever business you can, or preventing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), we have gathered information from trustworthy sources so you can get well-informed and up-to-date on how to protect your business.
Help from the government
Here are the latest announcements:
- Enhancing the Work-Sharing program to support employers and their workers who are experiencing a downturn in business.
- If you are a tourism operator, a small business or an organization affected by COVID-19 and need pressing assistance, Canada’s Regional Development Agencies: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), can assist you with access to federal funding and services.
- Business Credit Availability Program to make more than $10 billion available to Canadian businesses in financing and credit insurance solutions through:
- Immediate relief for small businesses with a 10% wage subsidy for the next 90 days, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer
- A new Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 biweekly for up to 15 weeks for self-employed people and others who are not eligible for EI sickness benefits
Help from other organizations
On March 17, 2020, Canada’s six largest banks announced plans to provide financial relief to Canadians impacted by the economic consequences of COVID-19.
Effective immediately, Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank and TD Bank have made a commitment to work with personal and small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions to help them manage through challenges such as pay disruption due to COVID-19; childcare disruption due to school closures; or those facing illness from COVID-19.
This support will include up to a six-month payment deferral for mortgages, and the opportunity for relief on other credit products.
Most banks are listening and are prepared to step in and help.
Most banks have dedicated coronavirus webpages and should be especially sympathetic to hospitality businesses. We have listed national financial institutions and have included links and the contact numbers:
Online Travel Agencies
Everyone in the industry is bracing for a high level of cancellations to avoid the spread of the infection. OTAs are trying hard to ease the burden for the guests who book with them while retaining their long term loyalty by making the corona-related cancellation process as easy as possible.
Whilst bookings received via OTAs remain technically subject to the cancellation policies that you have set, OTAs have the ability to override these in special circumstances like the one we are currently facing.
Online travel agencies have announced the measures they are taking to protect travelers and hosts alike, including the extensions of their Force Majeure Policy.
For the latest advice from OTAs on coronavirus and booking cancellation policies follow the links below:
Important Update: Expedia just announced they will be auto-enrolling all their partners into their new Cancellation Waiver Program as of Saturday March 21st at 7am GMT. This will mean that Expedia is assuming the right to cancel any bookings on your behalf, without any cancellation fees. In return they promise to give you a better ranking in the future.
If you are connected to Expedia through eviivo suite and would like to opt-out of this Global Cancellation Waiver Program, all you need to do is:
- Log into eviivo suite.
- Click on “Help”
- Click on “Search Help Pages”
- Click on the “Ask eviivo” button on the top right of the screen
- You will see a list of questions on the left side dropdown field, select the following: “OPT-OUT of the EXPEDIA CANCELLATION WAIVER” and press Submit.
For additional advice provided by some OTAs on how to handle hosting guests and mitigate the effects to your business, follow the links:
New Healthcare / Essential Staff Initiative
Airbnb has launched a new campaign to help crucial healthcare workers register and find accommodation via their platform during this period. You can find more information about the programs and how to participate here:
In eviivo suite, you can automatically cancel an OTA booking under the Force Majeure policy in just one click. Find out how here.
For more information on the latest OTA measures, please visit our dedicated eviivo university page here
What is eviivo doing to help?
First of all, it is important to remember that eviivo is, itself, a small business dedicated to the independent accommodation sector. Like you, we are trying to survive this difficult period while looking after our employees and their families. Like you, we are trying to apply for relief where possible, as indicated in the previous sections.
While bookings are your livelihood, your subscription is our livelihood.
When our customers hurt, we hurt. So your survival is key to our survival.
We are in this together. And we will do whatever we can to help within the limits of our own capabilities! We have therefore taken the following measures:
- First, we have created these dedicated coronavirus pages to share information faster with you. This is NOT meant to be a substitute for official government information sites, but we hope it will help you navigate through the current situation. We are constantly monitoring new developments as they relate to the hospitality industry.
- We are starting a series of online exchanges where, together, we can share ideas on the best coping strategies through this difficult period. We welcome any ideas and suggestions you would like to share with your hosts. Click here to participate.
- We have offered an extended free period to new customers to encourage them to sign up with eviivo – new sales are as critical to eviivo’s survival as new bookings are critical to your business. We are not trying to ignore existing customers, but we need to encourage new ones, in order to ensure we continue to be able to support you through this period.
- We have temporarily enabled free access to Promo Manager and Guest Manager software for all existing customers, to help you communicate more effectively with guests, or, if possible, provide incentives for new bookings as long as these comply with the safety measures listed below to fight the spread of coronavirus, just as we do ourselves at eviivo. Click here to find out how to use My Promo Manager, and click here to find out how to use My Guest Manager.
- We have developed “model” emails, including confirmations, cancellations and payment requests to help you find the words to communicate with your guests in these unprecedented circumstances. We also show you how you can modify your booking pages to find out where the guest is coming from and show potential guests the measures you are taking to protect against coronavirus. Our activation team can help you implement these.
- We have released a new set of reports to help you 1) see into the future more clearly how your business is being affected and 2) apply for relief as it may help you justify your needs to your local authority.
- For accommodation providers who can and want to remain open, we have come up with sample promotional incentives to help you convert as many bookings as possible in these hard times. And we will continue to advertise your offers on toprooms and on the National B&B site free of charge. We will be releasing these shortly.
- We have set toprooms, our community website, at ZERO % commission.
- Finally, we have collated – and will continue to collate – suggestions from everywhere on what accommodation providers can do during this crisis. For example:
- offer daytime low-cost home-working capabilities with good wifi to people who are not easily able to work from home.
- rent your cottage or apartment to people who need to self-isolate but cannot do so in their own home – including possibly other accommodation providers who wish to keep their own business open, but have one member of the family who needs to self-isolate.
- address alternative accommodation needs in your community – paid by local authorities. For example, accommodate health-workers, police or military, and other critical workers who need to stay near their place of work, provide shelters to the homeless or families who are waiting for council accommodation to help stop the spread of Corona, if you are near a hospital, as well as your usual accommodation offerings.
- provide day-time accommodation for adolescents or children out of school (under 10, not large groups) to relieve parents who need to work.
Whatever we can do, we will do. But we are unable to cancel subscriptions. If we did this, it would jeopardize our ability to support you, our employees and their families. We will, nevertheless, be compassionate and give priority to customers who are not able to get government relief, are in the greatest need, and have always been staunch loyal supporters of eviivo.
We believe that we will all come through this stronger, together. But in the meantime, we need to be patient. We hope that the ideas we share on our coronavirus pages and in our podcasts will give you some inspiration as we continue to do all we can.
COVID-19 has hit the hospitality industry more than any other sector. Yet, despite the challenges ahead, this is a good time to rethink your strategy so you can make the most of this difficult period for the well-being of your business. Following the recent travel ban, UK nationals are turning to local accommodation providers. And maybe now is the time to do all these things you have had the time to worry about earlier: prepare a new look for your business – online or offline – learn new technologies or put in place new things that will help you restart in pole position once the COVID crisis has passed.
If you want to discuss this further, feel free to get in touch with one of our experts.
Protecting yourself, your family and your guests
Source: World Health Organization
- If you think that you or one of your guests is infected, use the Government of Canada’s self-assessment too to find out what to do.
- If you think you are, yourself, in a high-risk group, because of your age or an underlying health condition, you should consider closing your business temporarily. Please do contact your local authority, bank and insurance to ask them to provide you with the appropriate relief in these extraordinary circumstances. If only one of your close relatives is affected, and you would rather not close your business, consider renting a place temporarily for self-isolation if you can afford to.
- For more up to the minute health advice consult
- But please be wary of scams. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre released a statement on March 18, 2020 stating: As COVID-19 continues to spread globally, watch out for associated scams. Fraudsters want to profit from consumers’ fears, uncertainties and misinformation. Fraudsters are exploiting the crisis to facilitate fraud and cyber crime. Read more here.
Reducing the spread of infection
- When you or an employee are cleaning the property, wear gloves and thoroughly wash your hands afterwards.
- Educate all your employees on the symptoms of coronavirus and how to reduce the risk of infection.
- Offer complimentary hand sanitizer and tissues to guests on arrival.
- Use rubber gloves when handling used dishes and silverware.
- When cooking for your guests, thoroughly cook all meats and eggs.
For more tips and advice on how to protect your business and employees and helpful guidance for employers consult:
While cleanliness has always been a key factor in providing accommodations, with the presence