Luxury hoteliers believe business will be back to normal within a year

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The majority of luxury hoteliers believe business will return to normal within a year and are confident of handling a coronavirus outbreak.

That’s according to a new poll by Forbes Travel Guide (FTG), which quizzed hotel general managers and senior executives from its worldwide luxury star-rated hotel collection about the impact of Covid-19.

The study reveals that 71 per cent of luxury hotels plan to reopen by September, 70 per cent of hoteliers are confident business will return to sustainable levels within 12 months and 86 per cent are either very or highly confident they can handle a coronavirus outbreak.

FTG, which spoke to 438 hoteliers in 64 countries, says that many were candid about reopening, with 64 per cent saying it is a challenge to adapt and maintain luxury service levels within Covid-19 restraints.

A further 62 per cent said it is a challenge to budget to manage the crisis and continue to operate.

However, FTG says some hoteliers have ‘created ingenious ways to keep the guest experience as seamless and enjoyable as ever’.

It highlighted the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Pennsylvania, which ‘has pivoted to a preregistered check-in process, where you can pick up your clean, pre-sealed room key on arrival to avoid staff touching it’. Of those closed, 58 per cent divulged to FTG that a staggering 76 to 100 per cent of staff were either furloughed or laid off, highlighting the pandemic’s devastating impact on luxury hospitality.

Among those that have reopened, the study found that the safety of staff and guests is at the forefront of operational procedures – 97 per cent of respondents said they are providing staff with PPE and 95 per cent said they are increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting procedures.

” Hotels have reinvented their operations, ensuring that guest experience is still at the heart of the luxury hotel stay” Other measures that hoteliers are taking to ensure health and safety include capacity control measures throughout the property (75 per cent) and altering guest and public areas to enable social distancing (81 per cent). This, says FTG, demonstrates that hospitality will look different, but that ‘hoteliers continue to put a premium on the guest experience’.

However, the study also revealed that some hoteliers had received negative feedback about new measures with one saying: ‘Guests are not interested in wearing masks and are not afraid of Covid-19.’

Another added: ‘Some comment positively on the extra measures. Others see it as an inconvenience to the flow of their stay in a luxury hotel.’

Filip Boyen, CEO of Forbes Travel Guide, said: ‘Our industry is poised and ready to receive guests once again after months of reimagination, training, and preparation.

‘Hotels have reinvented their operations, ensuring that guest experience is still at the heart of the luxury hotel stay.

‘But many hoteliers are faced with a fresh challenge of managing some guests who see the protocols as an inconvenience, regardless of safety for staff and other guests.’

And Rhode Island’s Ocean House has ‘reinvented happy hour by introducing a bold red cocktail cart that rolls door to door each evening for every guest’.

The Houstonian Hotel Club and Spa, in Texas, meanwhile, has introduced a ‘Dinner & A Movie Date Night’ series where the ‘hotel’s 400-capacity ballroom has been converted into a theatre for 26 couples to enjoy an appropriately spaced out evening’.

At the time the June poll was conducted, 41 per cent of hotels surveyed by FTG were still closed, with the majority of those planning to reopen in July (38 per cent), August (18 per cent) and September (15 per cent).

Reference: Daily Mail:Jennifer Newton for MailOnline 15 hrs ago 28th July 2020