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 managed to stay open for all our properties throughout the lockdown. We had long term residents, local authorities and key workers who needed the flexibility of self-contained apartments with kitchen facilities. We also offered almost 3000 complimentary room nights for NHS staff who needed to distance themselves from vulnerable family situations while they faced the pressure in hospitals. So, we had to learn quickly how to increase the sanitisation, protect guests and the team and put distancing measures in place. When it came to July and public opening, we were already well practised supporting guests as they stayed with us.
How is the general feeling and feedback from your team members and your customers now the lockdown is over?
The aparthotels are as close to normal as they can be. We stayed busy throughout the lockdown so the team are keeping the balance between hospitality and respectful distance. Our guests appreciate the effort and more importantly they find that apartments are the perfect solution where they can stay without worrying about busy or restricted restaurants.
What role has technology played in supporting your re-opening plan?
We are not particularly a high-tech brand; our focus has always been on design and guest experience. The tech available is more of a choice for guests but not central to our proposition.
What market trends are you seeing since re-opening?
Clearly the market is driven over the summer by the leisure guests, city-breakers and family staycations. For the wider hotel market to improve however we need to see corporate travel recover. Meetings, events, exhibitions, sport and music/theatre all need to get up and running for demand to progress.
What techniques have you used to build sales and re-engage customers?
Again, we have been fortunate to stay open throughout lockdown, the sales team have remained engaged with our corporate customers as far as possible. Marketing activity was reduced as digital traffic diminished, that has all picked back up now. It was important for us to keep the lights on and carry ongoing brand stories across our own channels like social media.
What positive lessons do we need to learn from what the industry has been through?
I’m a hospitality veteran of more than 30 years. We have come through big challenges before, although perhaps never anything quite like this? However, we are a people business with great values and experience at our core. This is the time to have faith in what we do and believe that people will be drawn back to work, to celebrate, to socialise and explore.
Date Published: 26th August 2020