How was the re-opening of your business and how was it carried out in line with safety procedures put in place to allow social distancing?
We gradually re-opened hotels from June onward, in tandem with the releasing of lockdown measures by the Government authorities and directives. But we only opened hotels where there was obvious business potential e.g. Bangkok.
There were a few hotels which remained open throughout, but they were catering to medical personnel and stranded overseas travellers who were waiting for repatriation flights home. During the hotel closure period, Centara Hotels and Resorts developed its new enhanced cleaning and sanitization safety procedures, under the label 'Centara Complete Care', which is a programme which was designed in partnership with 'Ecolab' and 'SGS'. All re-opened hotels have these strict procedures in place.
How is the general feeling and feedback from your team members and your customers now the lockdown is over?
Our team members have obviously had to make sacrifices with their monthly salary payments over the course of the last 4 months and will probably have to continue doing so for a while longer. But the response from everyone has been overwhelmingly supportive and understanding of the company’s situation.
We have had great levels of cooperation across the board. Team members are genuinely excited to be back in business and actively working again. Our customers are also extremely relieved our hotels are open again and we are seeing good levels of restaurant and bar activity as well as hotel occupancy being achieved.
What role has technology played in supporting your re-opening plan?
Obviously as part of our 'Centara Complete Care' programme we have implemented a number of new initiatives which involve technology. These include the implementation of the contact tracing app which all guests arriving at the hotels need to register with nowadays to the contactless pre-registration and payment methods which we have implemented for our guests wishing to stay with us.
All menus are now available only via scanning QR codes and we are using the latest electrostatic spraying devices in our hotels.
What market trends are you seeing since re-opening?
At the moment in all locations where we operate, there are only domestic travellers coming to our hotels as the borders remain closed to international travellers. We have experienced very positive levels of business at our hotels from these customers, perhaps due to pent-up demand.
But there are obviously many domestic customers who would normally be travelling internationally who are now also holidaying at home or using our hotels facilities more frequently.
What positive lessons do we need to learn from what the industry has been through?
Apart from the obvious ones of a need to keep a focus on enhanced levels of cleaning and sanitization, and the need too closely monitor the health and well-being of our team members and customers using our facilities, I think the industry here has to take a very close look at how hotels operate. For example, the need moving forward to have a more flexible workforce, with less full-time employees.
Also, a complete review of all fixed or semi-fixed costs to see how we can improve efficiency. It has been a reminder to our commercial teams about the need to keep a very diverse geographical mix of guests and not to have an over-reliance on any one geographical source or market segment moving forward.
Date Published: 28th July 2020