Unlike any other crisis, the current Covid-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on all of us, globally, with an incessant lack of predictability at all levels, generating fatigue, anxiety and depression, under the most various forms. The financial impact has been dramatic, with no signs of recovery or a return to normalcy. Finding a vaccine seemed to be a light at the end of a tunnel, but not any more – instead of researchers and scientists speaking out, politics has taken over, some countries like the U.S. being suspected that the normal process of developing a vaccine would be ‘rushed’ so that it can be put on the market before elections.
Our health and well being has become a huge daily source of concern, especially when medical professionals and experts mention on a daily basis that the virus still has many unknowns even for them. We now learn that Covid-19 kills even patients with no other medical preconditions (chronic diseases) and it can have the most grave forms even among youngsters. Critical information such as re-infection is still an unknown. Children are re-staring school under immense uncertainties, adding additional pressure on parents.
Besides the daily Covid-19 statistics (infected, ICU and casualties), we are constantly being ‘warned’ or ‘notified’ to not travel to certain countries, even at times we are even being ‘threatened’ that if we travel to a certain country we would face quarantine on arrival. If today a certain country would test passengers on arrival, from tomorrow they would require a test taken before departure. It is not just that most of these measures are taken and imposed over-night, but the fact that we may end up stranded in a destination or in transit because of the flights ‘roulette’ – many flights nowadays are being cancelled last minute because of lack of demand.
Luxury hotels and luxury retail (brick & mortar stores) cannot ‘pretend’ in their communications, especially on social media, that the primary concerns of all guests / travellers are Covid-19 related. Unlike luxury retail, luxury hotels are expected by travellers to keep guests up to date.
Some of the critical issues which could be extremely beneficial if subtly and sensibly implemented in the hotel communications, especially social media, are:
- size of the hotel – ideally between 50 and 150 keys, to ensure all measures are consistently implemented
- size of accommodations
- ratio of suites versus rooms
- affiliation of the hotel
- consumer behaviour has changed due to the pandemic – consumers are more withdrawn and less flamboyant and opulent – hotel must adapt and find different desirability generating factors
- because of Covid-19 stats, traditional fee markets such as the U.S., the U.K., Russia, GCC or China are not likely to return before mid December, thus they may be replaced by other nationalities – different consumer profile
- last renovation (partial or renovation)
- outdoor venues – terraces, gardens
- Air Conditioning – systems which also bring in fresh air, not only recirculate
- rooms cleaned and disinfected (options include Ozone or silver particle air-purifiers) and there is at least one day between guests in the same room
- new mattresses, new linen and new towels
- private airport transfers + meet & greet service included in some room and suite categories
- housekeeping service (daytime and turndown) should only be provided on demand and guests should advise at check-in, their preferred timing – guests can even opt for not having any housekeeping service, being confident nobody may touch their personal items
- bathroom amenities by a prestigious cosmetics brand, but no longer organic products – proper full body cleaning, especially when showering is essential
- Safety & Hygiene kits can be provided for all guests and must be replaced every two days and must include both disinfectant wipes and disinfectant in recipients as well as a small spray which guests can use to disinfect their mobile phone, tablet or laptop
- Hygiene Manager (available 24 hours, 7 days a week – in shifts)
- the key point of contact to provide the most up to date information regarding travel (changes in measures and restrictions by different countries)
- provide also information on the preventive measures the hotel is taking to fight Covid-19
- inform guests on local regulations and restrictions (ex if wearing of a mask is mandatory or not etc)
- inform about crowded areas which guests should avoid – or suggest better times, when those venues may be less crowded
- advise that the hotel has very clear protocols in case a guest shows symptoms – liaison with a specialist doctor and a specific clinic or hospital
- Front Office and Concierge should make a concerted effort to promote private drive / chauffeur driven activities and experiences, whether for airport transfers, shopping or even sightseeing – a car provided by the hotel can be checked and inspected by the hotel to ensure utmost cleanliness (instead of random taxi or a random car sharing)
- staff are being regularly tested
- staff in public areas wear masks and gloves at all time
- medical masks are preferred – rather than ‘fashion’, ex. with a logo – more of a matter of perception
All such issues and topics should be conveyed and communicated in the most effortless way, yet at the same time very firmly. This can be achieved through extensive training and case studies.
Creating private and safe experiences – creative, yet relevant!
- pop-up private dining
- for example, one suite can be converted for a limited duration of time into a most luxurious private venue where guests can enjoy an exceptional menu)
- completely transforming an existing restaurant – new menu, new interior design
- for rooms or suites with a terrace, the hotel can set up (weather permitting) breakfast or a special dinner
- luxury Spa ‘minibar’ – which could include a full set of the finest organic cosmetics and beauty products which guests could use to recreate an ‘in-room’ Spa experience (essential oils for shower or bath, facial mask, hair mask, body lotions and body butters etc) – the hotel can place a brochure with various suggestions
- brand new sealed luxury bathrobes (fashionable), pyjamas and luxury slippers – a welcome box can be placed in the room on arrival, with a discreet sign of the price (if worn or taken away)
- experiencing the ‘behind the scenes’ (back-of-the-house), including for example private wine-tasting at the hotel or the pastry kitchen
- marketing / branding partnership with a luxury car company – available as a proximity car (free of charge within a 5 km radius), for airport transfers or any other private arrangements – shopping, sightseeing etc.
- a mobile smart-phone for the exclusive use during each stay – with integrated Apps – guests can order any meal, in-room dining, can use the phone as a key, concierge tips, in-room Spa menu, message or speak to a hotel guest service agent at all times of the day
- ‘energy boost’ food and drinks items in all menus from breakfast to dinner, as well as in-room dining – items which can boost the immune system
- themed ‘in-room’ dining experiences – Movies Night or Pyjama Party with a pop-corn machine ice-cream mini-bar and a larger screen
- Red Carpet fashion trunk fully stocked with a selection of fashion and accessories items by a reputed stylist – similar ‘trunk type’ can be arranged for jewellery
- off-the-beaten track activities and experiences – at venues or in spaces with minimal visitors, away from crowds
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