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Coronavirus Update for Innkeepers (4/02/20)

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

On 3/19/20 Governor Wolf issued an order for non-essential businesses to close. A revised list was issued on 3/20/20 that stated “Travel Accommodations” were essential businesses and could remain open. On 4/1/20 Governor Wolf placed all 67 counties under a "stay-at-home" order. All restaurants and bars in PA are closed for dine-in service. Many are open for food to be picked up or delivered. B&Bs are allowed to continue to serve breakfast; however, you may want to make modifications to how you serve breakfast and snacks to your guests.

On 4/1/20 the Governor banned short-term rentals including those on Airbnb. 

WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Only you, as the business owner, can make the decision on whether to remain open or closed 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 health and safety is the most important.

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.

If you have closed, post a message on your website that you have closed and when you plan to reopen. The message can also direct guests to make summer or fall reservations or purchase a gift certificate.

IF YOU REMAIN OPEN

If you make the decision to remain open, please consider implementing the following measures as applicable. Also, given the "stay-at-home" order by the Governor, you may want to consider discouraging vacationers and provide your rooms for those that have essential travel needs.

  • 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. The Guidance for Lodging Establishments document provides more information that you may want to consider.
  • Modify your guest confirmation emails to include the extra steps you are taking to ensure each guests safety.
  • Modify your thank you email to ask guests to post a review about the extra measures you have put in place.
  • As safety measures increase and directions from local and federal governments change, you may find yourself in a situation where your property has to close or significantly alter operations. Communication with your guest is extremely important.
  • 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.
  • Use your social media channels to stay connected with your guests and potential customers.
  • Find out what nearby restaurants are serving food for pick up and their hours of operation. Know what gas stations are open.

GETTING READY FOR YOUR GUESTS

During this time of closure or limited guests, there are things you can be doing to ready your property for guests.

  • Re-evaluate your business operations. Consider implementing changes on how you interact with guests when consumers begin to book travel again. Consider ideas such as: Only delivering breakfast to the guest room or providing a to-go option; Configure a no-breakfast rate within your booking engine; or Look for different ways to communicate with your guests such as texting.
  • 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.
  • Change out your breakfast menu to prepare items that are easier to-go options. Try new recipes and take photos of your dishes to post on your social media channels.
  • Prepare an editorial calendar for future blog posts and Facebook posts of things to see and do in your area. Begin writing and have them ready when appropriate to post.
  • 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.
  • Update the copy and photos on your website. Is your website built on a professional platform and adapted to a mobile first world?
  • 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.
  • 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 your guest experience?

GET READY TO APPLY FOR FUNDING/LOANS

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.

BUSINESS ASSISTANCE / FUNDING / MARKETING OPPORTUNITIES

PABBI has prepared a Business Assistance & Marketing Opportunities document that identifies funding programs available, business assistance resources and marketing opportunities. This document will be updated as new information becomes available. If you have of programs/resources that would be of assistance to PA innkeepers, please use our Contact Us form.

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