Thank you to Fanny Caloz, co-founder of Swiss Escape, for sharing how they are responding to the COVID-19 quarantine in the Swiss Alps.
1. What is the biggest challenge you're facing in the current situation and how have you (tried to) overcome it?
Managing the fears and anxiety of the residents, while dealing with new governmental restrictions falling into place every day. Also, dealing with uncertainty and not being able to answer some questions from the residents.
We tried to handle the crisis calmly and inform residents twice a day about the new measures and restrictions that are affecting the coliving. In times like this, transparent and constant communication is the most important tool to use.
2. Is there any specific (other) story you’d like to share? This can be on another “crisis moment” or how someone from your team / community handled the situation strongly.
As soon as the government put restrictions on outdoor gatherings and closure of restaurants, our community manager took a great initiative to host indoor events to keep the guests entertained, and take their “mind off” during the crisis unfolding.
3. What changes in health and safety policy have you implemented in your coliving space?
We have closed our space as soon as the travel ban came into effect, therefore not an applicable question.
4. What changes have you made to support the physical and mental wellbeing of your residents in response to the coronavirus?
A. Clear communication. We immediately started communicating, once or twice a day, the official governmental measures and restrictions put in place in Switzerland. We realized that some residents were reading the news from other countries, and started creating a panic with measures that were not even put in place – and still not are – in Switzerland.
B. We made changes to our cancellation and refund policy to allow people to rebook the remainder of their stay, if they decided to leave early.
C. We did not take any new bookings because we did not want to create any fears among the residents from the new arrivals.
5. What changes have you made to support the physical and mental wellbeing of your staff (both on-site and off-site) in response to the coronavirus?
A. Our community manager was regularly doing personal checks with every resident to ensure there is no anxiety growing at the space.
B. We cancelled our cleaning staff services as we knew all residents had decided to leave soon and we planned to close our space.
6. How are you managing and caring for those residents who are ill and may have or have the virus?
Since our space is closed, it is not applicable.
7. How are you handling residents who got laid off and are unable to pay? This concern has been raised by several operators.
Because we only have short stays, every guest pays in full, before check-in.
8. What have you communicated to your residents about the virus? How have you communicated this information e.g. email, face-to-face discussion?
We communicated via our Whatsapp group once or twice a day. And face to face, every day.
9. Have you encountered any difficulties in communicating this information? How have you overcome this (or how are you trying to)?
No difficulties in communication. We used the press conference issued by the government and translated the important parts and sent that to our residents.
10. What are the biggest operational issues relating to coronavirus that you're currently struggling with? What would best help you?
No operational issue since we closed the space.
11. In terms of the business model and marketing - what innovative approaches have you implemented or are thinking of implementing (i.e. dealing with future move ins, etc)?
Depending on how long the situation lasts, we have decided to potentially open our space to residents of Switzerland only. We are also in the process of creating another business that creates a synergy with the Coliving space, and potentially create new PR for the space.