Comparing Crisis Management Practices in the Hotel Industry between Initial and Pandemic Stages of COVID-19

Comparing Crisis Management Practices in the Hotel Industry between Initial and Pandemic Stages of COVID-19

Lai, Ka Wai Ivan; Wong, Weng Chou Jose



Hotel industry; Importance-performance analysis; COVID-19; Tourism crisis management; epidemic prevention


International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 32, Issue 10, 2020, pp.3135-3156



Purpose – Given the increasing number of travel restrictions, the COVID-19 outbreak has dealt a crippling blow to the hotel industry, and the crisis management practices supporting the industry needs are changing as the pandemic continues. This study aims to compare how the hotel industry has responded to this crisis at the initial stage and the pandemic stage.

Design/methodology/approach – Data were collected from hotel managers in Macau in two occasions, namely, early February and early April 2020. Importance-usage-performance analysis was conducted to classify six categories of practices (pricing, marketing, maintenance, human resources, government assistance and epidemic prevention) into four executable crisis management strategies (priority, maintain, low priority and possible overkill) for each stage. Follow-up in-person interviews were conducted to validate the results of the study.

Findings – In the initial stage, priority strategies should be applied in all epidemic prevention, pricing and maintenance practices and in two governmental assistance and human resources practices. In the pandemic stage, all epidemic prevention practices remain at the priority quadrant, but two pricing practices are downgraded. Hotels tended to force labour into unpaid vacations (furlough) and postpone office and system maintenance. Governmental assistance should be at a low priority.

Originality/value – This study contributes to the knowledge of contingency planning for crisis management across crisis periods. It also demonstrates the processes of importance-usage-performance analysis for researchers to undertake further studies in tourism crisis management. Timely recommendations for governments and hotel industry stakeholders are provided to cope with this crisis.