Hotel Tourism Post COVID19 | According to Gibraltar-based hotel asset manager Lucienne Mosquera, 30% of hotels across the globe could go out of business because of the COVID19 pandemic, as the need for the industry to adapt quickly grows.
“Certainly, a lot of hoteliers will need to rethink their business model, and some will look to less risky alternative property uses such as residential, student accommodation or long-stay apartment-hotels”, Lucienne told Reach.
Interestingly, Lucienne told us that the extended stay industry has performed the best during the first half of 2020.
“The extended stay side of the industry has seen occupancies of 40- 60% during the pandemic; because unlike other hotel types, extended stay hasn’t had to make radical changes to its operations. They also aren’t anchored by restaurants and spas, which would have had to close in response to social distancing guidelines.”
Lucienne explained that as the market will remain price sensitive in the short to medium term the biggest challenges will be faced by luxury hotels and resorts. Their business model relies on international outbound travel and I foresee people taking more breaks within the country and domestic travel will be a key driver for the industry.
Lucienne revealed that for all hotels going forward, hygiene and social distancing safety measures will mean that we could see an end to hotel buffets, or at least a change in the process that we have all come to love.
The H10 Estepona Palace said in a recent email that their restaurant will prioritize table service and ‘show cooking’, while Royal Caribbean cruise liners have announced that they are looking in to transforming the buffet system to a system whereby the guest chooses their food which is then served to them by a member of staff or chef.
“The pandemic will behave like a catalyst for the hotel industry, forcing hoteliers rethink and to phase out outdated practices that are cost inefficient and unsustainable.”
Swimming pools, spas, buffets and the check-in process could see a transformation altogether, but Lucienne told us that that this is not down to the pandemic alone – she says it is also a question of sustainability.
“Sustainability will play a critical role in the success of hotels moving forward. For example, at our hotels our supply chains are ethical; meaning that we do not buy products from suppliers who use unethical practices.”
“Furthermore, for example, swimming pools are not sustainable when you think about the costs to maintain them and the massive water usage; added to the fact that the world could be facing a water shortage in the not so far future.”
The “New Normal” for the Hotel Industry & The Importance of Hygiene
With many hotels planning to reopen their doors in July in different areas of Spain, and with Spain intending to open its up frontiers to tourism on June 21, and regional travel within Spain to be allowed on June 8, guests will be in for a different experience in 2020.
A balance will need to be found between the personalised guest experience that we have all come to expect from a holiday and hygiene / safety measures that provide guests and hotel staff a feeling of safety.
Lucienne explained that at ‘Easy Hotels’, rooms have been stripped of non-essential items such as pencils and notebooks to prevent transmission of germs.
“Our rooms will be disinfected daily, high touch areas such as doorknobs, handles and lift buttons to be disinfected every 30 mins, linens to be washed at 60 degrees, room service to drop off food at your doorstep.”
Temperature scanning and contact tracing may also become part of the ‘new normal’, with measures to be put in place to ensure that neither staff or guests accidentally cause an outbreak.
“Guests will now be factoring in hygiene when booking their next stay. Temperature scanning on check-in could become the norm”, which could see guests turned away if they are believed to be displaying symptoms of COVID19.
According to Lucienne, technology will play a crucial role and that we could see an end to traditional check in process and the rise of digital check-ins to allow for social distancing and improve the guest experience.
“Last year I stayed at a high-end hotel in London, bearing in mind that it cost a substantial amount of money, it was surprising that I then had to wait in a 10 minute queue to check in … We are building our own app so that people can check in online and receive their digital key card on arrival”, meaning, they’ll be able to walk into the hotel, check in and unlock their room door with their phone.”
The Rise of the ‘Staycation’ and Local Travel
Lucienne predicts that short-stay local and regional holidays will become the vacation of choice for 2020; with long-distance travel being substantially riskier due to the ever-changing nature of the situation.
She said that in the short term, whilst international travel plans are still in place, Gibraltar-based hotels could target across the frontier, particularly the expat communities and Spanish nationals.
“The opportunities for Gibraltar and the tourism industry in general lies with effective, data driven marketing.”
Lucienne said that hoteliers need to ask themselves; “what do our post-covid guests really want from their stay at my hotel? Demand and guest needs will have significantly changed, and the industry needs to adapt to tap into these new opportunities.”
Fluidity at the frontier will be crucial for both Gibraltar and the neighbouring areas of Spain if the hospitality industry is to begin its full recovery from the negative economic effects of the lockdown – especially since all hotels will be operating at a reduced capacity for the foreseeable future in 2020.
Hotel Tourism Post COVID19
Lucienne Mosquera is a Managing Partner at Hospitality Business Development and Hotel Asset Manager at Xcentric Hotels, which is a hotel management arm of Crossroads Real Estate Investment LLP. In this role she oversees the firm’s commercial development and asset management activities.