'This is tough!' says King's Lynn Travelodge manager of coping in crisis
The manager of Kings Lynn Travelodge, Keith Sturman, has spoken to the Lynn News about what he has had to do during this extraordinary period.
The 67-year-old, who lives in Spalding, started with Travelodge as a receptionist in 2012.
He has been the manager at Lynn since 2016 an appointment he says "was a dream come true".
And he is now in charge of one of only 50 Travelodges out of nearly 600 that have been kept open by the hotel chain giant in the UK.
He said: "My current job has not changed too much as it is business as usual but I am putting more emphasis on constantly communicating to my team and customers on the importance on staying safe in this critical time. I am stringent that we are all following Public Health England and Government instructions and we have introduced more safety measures as a result of the lockdown.
"We have two teams operating the hotel which ensures there is sufficient team support 24 hours a day / seven days a week. Therefore there is no need to work extra shifts. Travelodge is very flexible for working parents so I have offer shifts to my parent team members to suit their home life.
"Right from the start of the outbreak we have had strict instructions in place to ensure that we were all following public health and government guidelines so it has become a way of life for us now. However we have introduced more safety measures as a result of the lock down. This includes a daily briefing I give to my team on the importance of social distancing and the importance of constantly washing your hands.
"We are supporting the local council by providing accommodation for the less vulnerable groups. We have signage in all public areas of the hotel advising customers and staff on the importance of washing your hands and social distancing. We have floor markings highlighting the correct distance where customers need to stand in the reception area. We are also monitoring how many customers can check in at any one given time.
"We have hand sanitisers on the reception desk for customers to use and we have perspex screens fitted on the reception desk too. All staff have gloves and hand sanitisers to use whilst working in the hotel. We are constantly sanitising all areas within the hotel, our office and equipment.
"At Travelodge, we like a challenge but this one is a mammoth one and we have embraced it as working as one team with dedication and passion to succeed and deliver our best service. We love going the extra mile and putting a smile on our customers' faces. Currently we are operating over 50 hotels from Plymouth to Aberdeen to support critical and emergency workers, local authorities and the less vulnerable groups. The biggest challenge has been to keep everyone's spirits up.
"You have to come to work with an extra burst of energy to ensure team morale is high.
"We are operating in unpreceded and in uncertain times. This is very tough! We have to keep positive, be safe and focus on moving ahead – It’s the only way to beat this horrible virus and keep a sense of normality.
"I am just sticking to the Government guidelines at home and at work – it has become a way of life now and I am ensuring that I take some ‘Me’ time out every day which helps to put everything into perspective."
"I feel extremely proud to be part of Travelodge’s front line team and to support the Lynn community. It is such a privilege to play a small part in our country’s history.
"At Travelodge we are just one big massive family that spreads across all corners of the UK and the united support you get is so overwhelming.
"The company is stringent on health and safety and we have the correct policies in place to ensure that everyone is safe to work which gives you the confidence to come into work. We love going the extra mile and putting a smile on our customers' faces.
"In these unprecedented times, our hotel teams across the UK are working enormously hard, under great pressure, to support the national efforts. We are reviewing daily which hotels are best positioned to support the needs that arise with the Government while ensuring we comply with the restrictions in place to protect the public."
Travelodge, in common with all UK hotel operators has been obliged to temporarily close the majority of its hotels and is awaiting guidance from the Government when it can re-open the rest of its hotels.
"I cannot express the appreciation that we have been receiving from our customers – they are so grateful that we have hotels open for them. Just having a nice room with a king size comfy bed ready for them at the end of a very hard long shift is just what they had to look forward too."