Hotels look to staycations, increasing customer confidence for summer
Hotels across the UAE have announced a series of staycation packages that are carefully designed to cater to families that are looking for a relaxing weekend getaway but are hesitant due to their fears about the Covid-19 pandemic.
Priyanka Kapoor, regional director of Sales and Marketing - ME and Africa, Swiss-Belhotel International, noted that this summer season will present hotels with a unique set of challenges that they have never faced before.
"It calls for a wider preparation than any other summer for hotels," she said. "We are proud to state that all our Middle East hotels remain open to welcoming guests even in the unprecedented situation of Covid-19. Being operational through these tough times has given us the chance to act pro-actively on hygiene and safety initiatives. A large document called "WeReassure" was rolled out for all departments of hotels to take measures related to guest and staff safety and hygiene."
She also shared what the hospitality brand has planned for the summer months. "Before we target the audience and welcome guests to our hotels, it is of utmost importance that we prepare to make them feel safe and comfortable. On one hand, there are campaigns ongoing from a business perspective. The key element being flexibility in reservations - cancellation, changes or early check-outs are a must."
The hotel group has also announced staycations over the weekends that target families, Kapoor said. "We also have extended stay packages for travellers that are stuck due to travel bans, or need a place to isolate after having travelled recently. Some of our hotels that are city hotels, offer day packages providing a peaceful and a well-connected space with a strong Wi-Fi connection for people to work from, especially for the ones that have children at home busy with e-learning or some that are staying in sharing accommodations or maybe need a change in ambience."
Like Kapoor, Muzzammil Ahussain, EVP of Consumer Travel at Seera Group, noted that companies were dealing with "difficult times."
"There have been lots of cancellations and customers asking for refunds," he said. "Our focus right now is on providing verified information, especially regarding health and safety. You have to make customers comfortable with travelling again."
He also noted that the group was taking the time to better understand the needs of its customers. Looking ahead, he said that the first segment to recover would be the domestic market, followed by the international. "One concern about international travel is what type of documentation will be required by travellers such as medical safety certificates and whether they will be asked to quarantine."
Paul Wilson, EVP of Commercial at Cross Hotels and Resorts, says that he is pragmatic about the outlook for the industry. "We are seeing a lot of easing in laws and our hotel occupancies are steadily increasing. We are also seeing new opportunities that have arisen as a result of people changing their work habits. For example, before we used to see high a rush over the weekend when people booked a stay at the hotel, but now, we are seeing that they don't have to work from the office, so they are comfortable with booking during the middle of the week."
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