Since the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic, the world has been faced with a profound rethinking of what was at the very essence of many of our interactions… Proximity.
One sector that is being hit hard by this pandemic is the hospitality sector, which is facing new challenges.
The first is not least of all an exponential drop in its overall turnover through a reduction in the number of room reservations and an overall cost of dealing with this virus that is inversely proportional.
The second is the security of all the staff who, by essence, work in close proximity to the customers.
Before focusing on a study of the response of the major hotel groups to this pandemic, let's take the time to take stock of the state of tourism in the world.
TOURISM IN QUESTION
Whether in Paris, where the Louvres is showing a drop in turnover of almost 60%. The same is true for restaurants, which saw a drop in turnover of nearly 80% at the beginning of the summer, which augurs well for a difficult future for all the players in the market.
The French government nevertheless wants to reassure professionals in the sector.
Alain Griset, the Minister Delegate, in charge of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) was on a trip to Honfleur and specified "The measures put in place have proved to be effective. But depending on the evolution of the health and economic situation, we may be led to propose different solutions. And in order for them to correspond to the needs of professionals, I must listen to them".
Indeed, there is a great deal of concern about tourism, especially after the start of the new school year and this possible second wave, which is frightening all French business leaders and especially tourism professionals.
The restrictions linked to Covid-19 are expected to result in a loss of earnings of between 1,200 and 3,300 billion dollars for tourism and related sectors in the coming months, according to a UN estimate.
IN THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA
The United States is again worried, perhaps even more so than in Europe, since the international tourism sector has virtually come to a standstill.
Restrictions on non-essential travel to Canada from foreign countries, other than the United States, have been extended, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stating that he would "not rush" to reopen the borders.
This is a tsunami for the tourism sector in both countries.
Moreover, located less than 90km from the American coast, the Bahamas Archipelago has decided through its Ministry of Tourism and Aviation to close the borders with the United States.
This decision is far from insignificant for a country largely dependent on tourism (more than 50% of GDP) and whose first nationality is largely tricked by Americans (80% of tourists).
For their part, the countries of the Arab world are also suffering, even if some, such as Tunisia, remain relatively unaffected by VIDOC19. However, the country remains unstable because of its proximity to Libya.
The Arab Tourism Organization (ATO) has estimated that the sector has lost nearly 130 billion dollars in the Arab world due to the Covid pandemic19. OAT President Bandar Ben Fahd Al Fahid said that losses in the tourism sector in the Arab world are close to 130 billion dollars compared to the previous year, which would be equivalent to a 51.2% drop in the contribution of tourism and travel to the Arab world's GDP, the same sources added. This fall will have a direct impact on jobs in the sector in the Arab world, which could fall by 48.8%, leading to a decline in investments of nearly 25.4 billion dollars compared to 2019, the same official stressed. In this context, OAT has put in place a set of measures and programs to support tourism in the region, including the creation of a crisis fund, the issuance of travel insurance covering the risk of exposure to coronavirus among tourists and the development of several online training courses for the benefit of 10,000 professionals in the region. According to a joint analytical study by OAT and the Arab Air Transport Organization (AACO), the recovery of the tourism and travel sector impacted by the coronavirus crisis will take at least three years. Thus, a return to normal will largely depend on the implementation by governments of adequate measures to address the epidemic risk.
In Asia, and particularly in Thailand, 60% of tourism businesses are considered threatened if the borders do not reopen in 2020.
In Thailand, where the industry accounts for 18% of GDP, foreign arrivals could drop by 80% by the end of 2020. The loss of income would then take 60% of the companies in the sector.
To save these thousands of threatened jobs, the government is working on a domestic recovery plan, the first phase of which would be equivalent to 500 million euros for the "Let's Travel" programme.
For the major hotel groups, it is the implementation of an emergency and survival plan that is committed between the three major players in the sector:
The group has created the "all safe" label developed with and approved by Bureau Veritas, which represents new standards of cleanliness and prevention and guarantees that these standards are respected in the group's various hotels.
For its part, the Marriott Group will launch advanced technology to help combat the spread of the virus. A multi-faceted platform details enhanced security measures for customers and associates.
"We are living in a new era, with VIDOC-19 as the primary concern of our customers and associates," said Ane Sorenson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Marriott International. "We are grateful for the trust our clients have placed in us over the years. We want our guests to understand what we are doing today and what we plan for the future in terms of cleanliness, hygiene and social distancing so that when they walk through the doors of one of our hotels they know that our commitment to their health and safety is our priority. It is equally important to us that our associates are aware of the changes we are making to help protect their health as they strive to serve our guests.
Marriott has also created the Global Cleanliness Council to address the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic in hotels and to continue the Group's efforts in this area. The Global Cleanliness Council focuses on developing the next generation of cleanliness standards for the global hotel industry, as well as hospitality standards and behaviors to minimize risk and improve the safety of guests and Marriott associates alike.
In addition, Marriott will be launching advanced technologies in the coming months, including electrostatic sprayers with hospital-grade disinfectant to disinfect surfaces throughout the hotel. Electrostatic spraying uses the highest class of disinfectants recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to treat known pathogens. Sprayers quickly clean and disinfect entire areas and can be used in a hotel setting to clean and disinfect rooms, lobbies, sports halls and other public spaces. In addition, the company is testing ultraviolet light technology to disinfect keys for guests and devices shared by associates.
At Hilton, the company is working on a sanitation program called Hilton CleanStay with Lysol to protect and reassure customers and employees.
Hilton CleanStay was developed in response to changing consumer expectations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Research indicates that consumers are increasingly concerned about hygiene conditions during their travels," says a statement from the hotel owner.
"Our priority has always been the safety of our guests and team members," said Christopher J. Nassetta, President and CEO of Hilton. "Hilton CleanStay builds on the best practices and protocols we have developed over the past few months, allowing our guests to relax and enjoy the unforgettable experiences we have to offer – while protecting our team members who are on the front lines.
Details of the program are still being developed and should be announced shortly. Here are the tracks that will be rolled out:
– Hilton CleanStay Room Seal: Add an extra measure of assurance by placing a room seal on the door to let guests know that their room has not been visited since it has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
– Thorough cleaning of the 10 most frequently affected areas: add extra disinfection of the most frequently affected areas in guest rooms – switches, door handles, TV remote controls, thermostats and more.
– Eliminate paper equipment: remove pens, papers and the guest directory; can be supplemented with a digital offer.
– Focus on fitness centres: improving the disinfection instructions in the hotel's Fitness Centre, possibly by closing it for cleaning several times a day and limiting the number of guests allowed in at the same time.
– Increase the frequency of cleaning of common areas.
– Disinfecting wipes available to guests: Install stations at the main entrances and in key high-traffic areas, for example, encouraging guests to wipe the elevator button before pressing the button.
– Contactless check-in: Hilton will redouble its efforts to expand its Digital Key technology. Guests can check in, choose their room, access their room with a digital key and check out using their mobile device.
– Finally, the group is exploring the addition of new technologies such as electrostatic sprays – which use an electrostatically charged disinfectant mist – and ultraviolet light to sanitize surfaces and objects.
The implementation of these new measures will be costly for the players in the sector but is an obligation to enable them to return to a level of turnover that is in line with what it may have been upstream of COVID19.
One thing is certain: the next few months will be decisive for the survival of many companies in the sector and for the recovery of this part of the economy, which has been living under infusion for several months now.