In the past 3 months, having closely monitored both consumers and luxury brands across sectors, especially hotels, there is an absolute need for accuracy and reliability. Now more than ever, both internal and external communications are equally important. Staff are often brand or company ambassadors, but their wellbeing is also essential.
Nowadays, customers or guests expect to be re-assured by how luxury hotel groups are enforcing the best safety, protection and prevention measures – which need to remain coherent and consistent in the long term, which some call the new normal. The hospitality industry must commit to constantly invest in improvements, which are not an option – they are a must.
Should a specific incident arise, hotels need to be fully prepared to respond firmly and coherently to ensure the respective guest receives the best care, from diagnosis to treatment but also providing assistance such as a translator and/or chauffeur driven car. There should be similar protocols for employees.
As countries have been opening up and gradually lifting the lockdown, each country has its specifics which travellers expect to be informed before arrival, There is no such thing as ‘Covid-19 – free’ countries or geographical areas. Sars-Cov2 is extremely contagious and spreads very fast. Simply observing the statistics of the Coronavirus are important but far from sufficient. People need to look beyond.
There are few but very clear known facts – climate, population, spread of housing and sanitation. Often case, countries saw the spread of the virus as an ‘import’, whether foreigner or nationals returning from areas with high rate of infections, including people working abroad.
Hot weather but also countries / cities with more greenery and a more spread-out housing are more likely to see the Covid-19 become less infections, expanding at a slower pace. Modern buildings with all glass windows which do not open present more challenges for restraining the virus – it is essential that spaces benefit from fresh air. Nevertheless, a heritage building with opening windows has several major disadvantages, especially the circulation of air – old piping and filters may prove to be very expensive not only just cleaning them but also disinfection.
Media will play a very important part in providing comprehensive reviews and up-to-date news and information. Besides the essentials of a review such as service, product, location and positioning, media reviews will now also reflect on the safety and disinfection of a property – no only the ‘standards’ and protocols but also how these measures are implemented.
Another extremely important factor to consider is about the specifics of each destinations – taking a taxi to avoid crowds may be a very good idea.Ultimately, it critical for media to reflect on how measures are communicated – how the guest is informed in the more accurate and transparent manner. A luxury hotel does not need to be turned into a hospital but the perception of matters being under control must be communicated in the most effortless manner. Also, reinforcing restrictions such as wearing masks, should be done carefully and politely
Hotel reviews should now include more destination information – the hotel should be in position to recommend certain activities or even areas or spots of the respective destination which are safer – for example, a museum or a store which are less crowded and with fewer lines or queues. Media should also reflect extensively on the actual Covid-19 measures that each hotel, chain or group have been implementing. Detail such as the fact that a hotel chain or group has been working with a prestigious expert third party company to set up protocols but also a regular system of issuing certifications or label – ex safeguard label or safety label.
One of the best examples is Italy, one of the countries most hard hit by the new Coronavirus. Foreign travellers should be aware that it is actually the Northern part of the country, specifically the province of Lombardia, which saw the highest number of infections and guest. It is unclear whether the coronavirus remains ‘active’ through those who transmit the virus. Subsequently, there is solid demand for the mid to South parts of the country.
Another very particular example is Lake Como which is about a one hour train trip from Milan (a major epicentre at the debut of the pandemic). Instead of using Milan as a hub for Lake Como, travellers can take an easy drive trip from Switzerland (nearest larger city is Lugano.It is known that Switzerland has been managing the pandemic fairly well.
Before the guests arrival, hotels need to require the nationality / passport of each guest, as the situation remains fluid. In a matter of less than 48 hours, a sudden and unexpected higher rate of infections may lead to the respective country to be downgraded on the various list, whether guests must accept to be tested on arrival or whether they may risk to be forced to quarantine in the country of destination or even when they return home.
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