Hotels pivot to stay afloat
The leisure sector is facing headwinds. Colliers believes that operators should consider this as an opportunity to recalibrate and pivot to what the market requires as the pandemic and lockdowns continue to disrupt the sector. Overall, hotel operators should remain proactive and continue lining up marketing efforts to maximize pent up demand once market conditions improve and when domestic and global air travels revert to pre-pandemic level.
COVID-19 testing as part of amenity packages
In our view, hotel operators should consider offering convenient and affordable on-site COVID-19 testing as part of their amenity packages. Hotels may consider partnering with an accredited laboratory or a hospital to conduct the Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) or rapid antigen COVID-19 tests. By partnering with these facilities, hotel operators can raise guest confidence while providing immediate support for guests testing positive from the virus. The government has also approved the implementation of saliva testing, which is a cheaper and less invasive procedure for COVID-19 testing. We encourage hotel operators to consider adopting this alternative procedure.
Compliance with health, safety protocols
Colliers believes that hotel operators should strictly follow the health and safety protocols implemented by the government. Hotels’ compliance with the anti-pandemic efforts laid out by the Department of Tourism should also be highlighted to attract more guests.
Technology-driven, innovative services
Despite the pandemic, hotel operators should continue using technology to improve customer experience. Aside from the typical technology-enabled services such as contactless check ins, smart and keyless room controls, and 24/7 mobile connectivity, operators should also consider introducing self-cleaning robots and contactless payment channels to minimize physical contact and raise sanitation standards. In our opinion, the pandemic and the physical distancing protocols have only highlighted the need for hotel operators to innovate using technology-driven services.
Government incentives, regulations
Colliers encourages hotel operators to monitor the perks granted by the government to the leisure sector. For instance, the Board of Investments (BOI) has approved tax incentives for tourism enterprises to upgrade and modernize facilities for health and safety purposes. These include an income tax holiday for three years and duty-free importation of capital equipment. Upgrades may also include the renovation of guest rooms, function rooms and recreation areas.
Repurposing of rooms
Some hotels in Metro Manila have converted their rooms into private offices and flexible workspaces given the slow guest demand due to the pandemic. Among the amenities are WiFi connectivity, office supplies, weekly cleaning services and access to a common pantry area. Colliers believes that demand for these facilities is likely to increase over the next 12 months, given that more firms are willing to implement alternative schemes such as remote working. Hotels may also consider partnering with well known or in-house restaurants to offer pop-up restaurants where guests can order through the hotel reception and have their food delivered to their rooms. While implementing these, hotel operators should strictly observe physical distancing protocols implemented by the local and national governments.
Buoying the domestic market
As international travel restrictions remain in place, the DOT is likely to continue its domestic tourism push by reopening more destinations such as Boracay, Baguio, Ilocos region, and El Nido and Coron in Palawan, provided that the local government units (LGUs) follow the prescribed health and safety protocols. Colliers believes that these efforts should help buoy the local travel market, entice more Filipinos to spend, and keep the vibrancy of Philippine tourism.
In response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the country, several hotels have been converted into quarantine facilities for front-line medical workers and repatriated OFWs. In our opinion, hotels are likely to remain as quarantine facilities, as some tourist and leisure groups are still cautious of traveling due to the pandemic. This should partly boost hotel occupancy in selected Metro Manila hotels as the sector gears up for recovery.
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