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Coronavirus Update for Innkeepers (8/29/20)

PABBI, to the best of our ability, will provide you updated information to help you make the best decisions for your business including information on economic relief programs. Thank you for your role in keeping Pennsylvanians safe and healthy by reducing the spread of COVID-19. 

This page will be updated as PABBI receives new information. If you have any questions or need guidance, please contact a PABBI Board Member, the Board Chair or our Administrator.  Working together, we will get through this.

PA UPDATE

As of July 29, all counties Pennsylvania are in the green phase. In the green phase innkeepers can accept reservations for leisure travelers and are required to follow Business and Building Safety Orders as set forth by the Department of Health. In the green phase, restaurants/bars can operate at 50% capacity for outdoor seating and 25% indoor seating.

You can view the latest guidance at the PA Department of Health website. PABBI supports the American Hotel & Lodging Association Stay Safe Initiative. You can download the latest safe stay guidelines. PABBI has also used this document along with the documentation issued by the Department of Health and Govenor's Office to develop Lodging Guidelines specifically for Bed and Breakfasts/Inns.

PABBI has created a page on our website to update guests traveling within PA. While our Governor wants people to stay at home, there are extenuating circumstances that require people to travel and they need a safe place to stay.

THE BED & BREAKFAST INNS PROMISE

The Pennsylvania Association of Bed & Breakfast Inns (PABBI) and health officals across the Commonwealth have requested that individual Bed & Breakfast/Inn owners and innkeepers make a set of voluntary commitments to their staff and guests constituting the "Pennsylvania Bed & Breakfast Inns Promise" for the COVID-19 recovery period. 

When guests see "The Pennsylvania Bed & Breakfast Inns Promise," they know that the Bed & Breakfast/Inn has committed to taking appropriate action to protect their staff and guests and that they are taking a leadership role in protecting their community.

Learn more about "The Pennsylvania Bed & Breakfast Inns Promise" and download the B&B Promise to post on your website and at your property.

LIABILITY PROTECTIONS TO BUSINESSES

On June 8, Senate Bill 1194 (Stefano-R, Fayette) was filed and would provide liability protections to businesses. Stay tuned for our call, working in conjunction with PRLA, for grassroots outreach to pass this measure. This safe harbor legislation would protect you from potential lawsuits of a guest claiming they got COVID-19 at your business.
 
Businesses serving the public are required to make employees and customers aware of the guidance provided by the Commonwealth to keep people at their establishments safe. Businesses must print, sign, and post the "COVID-19 Safety Procedures for Businesses" flyer on their premises (choose 8.5"x 11" Sign | 8.5" x 14" Sign).
 
We anticipate that if a Bill is passed to provide liability protection, it will have a requirement that to be protected, you must have posted and abided by the Commonwealth guidance.

GETTING READY FOR YOUR GUESTS

All counties within Pennsylvania are in the green phase so what does that mean to me as a B&B innkeeper? Only you, as the business owner, can make the decisions on what you need to do at your property that is in the best interest of you, your guests, your staff and family. While the loss of reservations is devasting to your business and livelihood, your heatlh and safety is the most important. Please consider the following as you get ready for guests in the coming weeks and months.

  • Re-evaluate your business operations. The updated Guidance for Lodging Establishments document provides details on general guidelines, cleaning protocols, communicating with your guest, and links to resources for more information.
  • Put a statement on your website of the extra precautions you are taking to ensure the safety of your guests. View a sample letter to help you craft your own message. You need to modify accordingly for your B&B
  • Modify your cancellation policy to be flexible. You may want to consider eliminating cancellation fees and deposits. Or if a deposit is taken, indicate it will be refunded in the form of a gift certificate to be used sometime in the future. Be sure you make these changes in your booking engine emails and on your website. This is a good opportunity to re-evaluate your email copy. Ensure that they are friendly, welcoming and include how you will make their stay safe. Look for different ways to communicaate with your guests such as texting.
  • Change out your breakfast menu to prepare items that are easier to-go options. 
  • Is your booking engine performing as it should? Research other software systems and identify the pros and cons for switching such as better pricing, more options to communicate with guests, reporting, credit card processing, etc.
  • Evaluate your BookDirect and OTA strategies. Let your guests know that you can be more flexible in canceling or rescheduling reservations versu booking with an OTA. Possibly offer an incentive for guests to book directly with you. 
  • Review your pricing, packages and specials. Is there something you can offer your guests that would sell your property? Maybe offer a no-breakfast rate.
  • Update the copy and photos on your website. Is your website built on a professional platform and adapted to a mobile first world? Be sure to check all of your links to ensure that they are going to the correct place. Google does not like broken links.
  • Develop a plan on how to communicate with your previous guests when appropriate. Begin thinking about the messaging you want to send to your guests. Those messages could include the changes you have made to your operations to ensure their safety. Use your social media channels to stay connected with your guests and potential customers. Promote the availability of purchasing a gift certificate for future stays or purchasing a gift certificate for a wedding, birthday or anniverary gift.
  • If you currently are not communicating with your past guests, now is a good time to research available e-marketing tools available such as Mail Chimp and Constant Contacts. View the Email Marketing presentation delivered at the Nov. 2019 PABBI Conference. This would be a great opportunity to encourage guests to purchase gift certificates for a future stay.
  • Evaluate your branding and marketing strategy. View the Branding & Marketing and Search Engine Optimization with Marketing Calendar presentations delivered at the Nov. 2019 PABBI Conference that have many must do’s if you are not already doing them. Now more than ever, your website and social media presence need to be top-notch in order to be competitive when consumers start traveling again. Details of available recovery programs have not yet been released, but there may be an opportunity to get monies for a new website or professional photography.
  • Click here to view other presentations from the PABBI Conference that may be useful such as Making a Great First “Digital” Impression, Get Your Business Online, Going Green.
  • Think outside the box. What things can you do to enhance the guest experience?

BUSINESS ASSISTANCE / FUNDING 

The Pennsylvania Restuarant & Lodging Association (PRLA) has a comprehensive list of resources available for small businesses to help navigate the current situation. If you know of other programs/resources that would be of assistance to PA innkeepers, please use our Contact Us form.

APPLYING FOR FUNDING

PABBI is tracking the availability of recovery programs available to the B&B industry and will provide updates as information becomes available. To receive any state or federal recovery funds, you will need to submit an application. We don’t know exactly what will be required in these applications, but be prepared by doing the following at minimum.

  • Know how to access your financial documents such as prior year tax returns, insurance policies, etc.
  • Prepare reservation income reports on a monthly basis for the prior two years.
  • Generate a report of cancellations and the dollar value related to COVID-19.
  • Know your Federal Employers Identification Number (FEIN) and what type of entity (Sole Proprietorship, Limited Liability Company, S Corporation, etc.).
  • NAICS Code for B&Bs is 721191.
  • Know the name of your state representatives and senator.
  • Current number of employees, number of seasonal employees and number of months employed.
  • A good business description. Indicate how the business has grown and what you did to promote the growth. 
  • A statement of how the virus has effected your business with particular attention to a discussion about staff, lost business and what it will take to revitalize the business once the virus issues are resolved. 
  • An idea of how much money it will take to get the business back on its feet and specifics on how the funds would be used.

STATE & NATIONAL ASSOCIATIONS

Numerous state and national associations are working diligently on behalf of the tourism industry. Additional resources can be found to help you during this public health crisis.

PA Restaurant & Lodging Association (PRLA) - Check frequently as daily updates are made as to what is happening in PA.

Association of Lodging Professionals (ALP)

RESOURCES

PA Department of Community & Economic Development COVID-19

PA Department of Health COVID-19 for Businesses

PA Department of Health COVID-19 General Information

PA Department of Revenue Updates

PA Department of Labor & Industry Updates

Small Business Administration

CDC Guidance for Businesses