In this special edition of Hospitality in the Newswe’ll be discussing preparing for the 2020 holiday season and how it will be affected by the emergence of COVID-19 earlier this year. With topics relevant for both businesses and workersour goal for this guide is to help you create your own plan for navigating work during the holiday season.  

The holiday season – which many consider to start around Thanksgiving and last until New Years – normally kicks off with thousands of seasonal staff being hired across the country. In 2019, retailers hired over 700,000 workers to assist with the high demand that comes along with shopping. Several of these retailers, like Amazon and Walmart, put these employees to work fulfilling online orders, which made up 20% of holiday sales last year.  

For the hospitality industry, restaurants and hotels would be preparing for holiday parties, tourists, and setting up for special events. Although they don’t see as much holiday action as the retail industry, restaurants in major cities rely on tourists visiting loved ones to help bump their revenue before the end of the year.  

Additionally, in a normal holiday season millions of people would be preparing to travel to visit family and friends, to go out and see the sights in popular cities that are magical this time of year. But unfortunately, this isn’t a normal holiday season – it’s a holiday season with the presence of the coronavirus.  

How will COVID-19 affect preparing for the 2020 holiday season?  

Even though we’ve been managing pandemic living for the last 7 or so months, there’s still an air of uncertainty surrounding how the holidays will look with various restrictions in place. Based on what we know from this year, here’s what we can assume:  

As with any other activity during a pandemic, serious precautions must be taken when traveling for the holidays. For that reason, some experts believe we’ll see a decrease in travel plans with those opting for more local trips. Restaurants and hotels should anticipate an increase in traffic from locals looking to get out and get in the spirit without putting themselves at too much risk.  

Most industries that have online offerings have experienced an increase during the pandemic and will continue to do so through the rest of the year. Because of concerns surrounding social distancing and other safety measures, it’s likely that people will do less holiday shopping in-person, relying on online ordering and available delivery services.  

Several companies, such as UPS and Amazon, have already announced they’re hiring thousands of people to tackle recent increases in demand. It’s expected that because we’ll be seeing less in-person shopping, businesses will have to combat increased online ordering with employees who can assist with packing, shipping, and delivery.  

Because the U.S. is experiencing another surge in COVID cases, it’s vital to prioritize health and safety measures that enforce wearing masks, exercising proper hygiene, and maintaining social distancing guidelines –– especially as we head into flu season. Safety will be a main concern for customers who venture out to make in-store purchases or dine in at restaurants, so be sure to communicate how you’re handling these issues.  

The key takeaways are this: while we’ll still see a huge hiring push, it will likely be limited to warehouses and other venues that fulfill online orders. Also, people will be limiting travel in favor of hitting up local spots to get in the holiday spirit. And as we enter flu season, enforcing health and safety measures are more important than ever. 

Navigating the holidays can be stressful, especially for the workers and businesses who regularly put themselves at risk to ensure we have an enjoyable season. In addition to acknowledging the above, here are a couple tips to consider: 

For workers preparing for the 2020 holiday season:

  • Closely monitor your health, especially if you’re working in public or with a large group of coworkers. Do not go to work if you aren’t feeling well or are experiencing coronavirus related symptoms.  
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions or express concerns to your manager, whether they be personal or professional.  
  • Prioritize personal self-care to avoid burnout.  

For businesses preparing for the 2020 holiday season: 

  • Confirm you have appropriate staff levelsConsult a partner (like LGC) for assistance with hiring and staffing to make sure you have the right team in place.  
  • Stay up to date on local and state laws regarding COVID procedures.  
  • Be creative when thinking about how to attract locals to your business.  

The holidays are a time for making memories and enjoying the company of our loved ones. Unfortunately, the current pandemic has forced us to adapt to a new normal, including what we can expect from this season. By using the trends and tips above, workers and businesses can start preparing for the 2020 holiday season and provide some of the comfort we’re all looking for.