High hopes in hospitality

08:00 | 19/03/2020
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus in China has affected Vietnam’s tourism dramatically, with losses reaching well beyond several billion US dollar, according to experts. However, hotel managers across the country are ensuring that the Southeast Asian nation remains a safe destination for international and domestic travellers as all previous cases have recovered.
high hopes in hospitality

Antonio Montes - General manager SOL by Meliá Phu Quoc

high hopes in hospitality

The coronavirus is affecting our business since the last week of January when the first cases were announced and we started to get the first cancellations from Chinese guests. In February, the increased cases in China and the announcement of new cases in South Korea, Japan, and some European countries all led to a dramatic drop in bookings.

Fortunately for us, SOL by Meliá Phu Quoc could still manage its usual operation during January and February as up to 70 per cent of our bookings are coming from European markets, which booked in advance.

However, from March onwards our business will become more affected due to the current situation with Asian markets like South Korea, Japan, and China - all markets that usually have a high number of visitors in this period.

During this exceptional situation, our hotel is forced to implement action plans in order to minimise the consequences of the high drop in bookings. As one of the last markets that we can target, Vietnamese tourists may offer many customers.

Besides that, we encourage our staff to make our customers feel safe and help them to enjoy the island of Phu Quoc that luckily does not have any cases yet. March is the best time to travel on Phu Quoc, offering the perfect weather to comfortably relax on the beach under the sun.

Since the outbreak started, the government and authorities have managed the crisis in an impeccable way by giving instructions, visiting our property on a daily basis, and coordinating with us to take care of our staff and costumers.

Quyen Nguyen – Manager Marketing & Communication Wyndham Grand KN Paradise Cam Ranh

high hopes in hospitality

The coronavirus has become a global concern, and Vietnam is no exception, especially regarding its popular tourist cities.

Wyndham Grand KN Paradise Cam Ranh is still in its pre-opening period, therefore, the resort has yet to report significant fluctuations in operation. However, we may see how the impact of the epidemic is on our business.

To cope with the epidemic, we have timely carried out disinfections all over the resort and check the staff’s body temperature before every single working shift.

In addition, every employee is reminded to wear face masks during work and keep their hands clean with an antiseptic solution.

Furthermore, we also offer free-of-charge cancellations for our guests from Mainland China and other epicentres.

At the moment, the majority of visitors coming to our resort are travelling golfers, which means the COVID-19 epidemic does not affect our guest flow very much.

However, the resort’s directorate has been working in line with Khanh Hoa’s businesses association to figure out backup and stimulus plans.

Our resort, in any case, commits to not force any employee to take unpaid leave and ensures their full salary.

E. J. MacEwan - General Manager PARKROYAL Saigon

high hopes in hospitality

When the coronavirus epidemic broke out, we prayed for patients and their families, giving them our best regards and hoping they would get well soon.

As PARKROYAL Saigon is an international hotel, we welcome guests from all around the world, including a large number of guests from mainland China. Thus, like many hotels and accommodation establishments, we are soon facing the negative impact on our business.

When the news about the decease was released, we did not stand still and quickly prepared proper countermeasures to deal with the outbreak. However, the number of visitors to our hotel has not fallen as badly as we predicted. I believe this is due to the spirit of our dedicated staff and our customers’ belief in us guaranteeing their safety.

We have required our staff to wear face masks, wash their hands with sanitisers, and always check their body temperature before entering the hotel. We also made clear, that in case anyone deems it necessary, to offer 14 days of quarantine without any negative consequences.

In addition, we are closely working with our guests and applying effective ways to ensure safety and comfort for them. We regularly check their body temperature, ask about any unusual symptoms, and their trips in the previous two weeks, as well as destinations they are planning to go to after staying with us. Finally, we offer free cancellations for anyone directly affected by the outbreak.

Phan Thanh Long - Director, Rex Hotel Saigon

high hopes in hospitality

The fallen numbers of visitors are not only affecting Vietnam but all of Asia. Rex Hotel is also partly subject to the epidemic’s consequences, with room occupancy much decreased compared to the previous years.

Rex Saigon has always kept good hygiene and followed international standards, especially now in the epidemic season. In this time, the hotel has complied with the safety guidelines of the Ministry of Health and conducted preventive measures, such as wearing masks and using hand sanitisers. Our hotel assures tourists that they have nothing to worry about and can trust in our service and efforts.

Besides the popular countermeasures, Rex Saigon has tried to improve the spirit among all its departments and divisions by enhancing training for staff, balancing revenue expectations and expenses, and using resources effectively. With this, we hope to assure a stable situation for our staff, so that they can offer the highest-quality services to our guests amid the current health crisis.

high hopes in hospitality

Peter Gerhäuser - General manager Panadus Resort

high hopes in hospitality

At our resort, we prioritise that our guests feel comfortable and safe. Currently, there are not many cases reported in the country and none in Binh Thuan Province. So far, it looks like all patients in Vietnam have recovered. Also, we have had very few guests from affected countries that have reported a significant number of cases since the outbreak started.

Regardless of the fact that there is a very low risk of contracting the disease here, our occupancy is beginning to drop. We are receiving very few future bookings, especially from overseas.

Normally, in February and March our occupancy runs around 70-80 per cent, but according to our most recent projections, next week, for example, the occupancy rate will only be between 30 and 40 per cent.

Since the greatest effect comes from overseas customers not wanting to travel on airplanes and not wanting to come to Asia at the moment, we have decided to focus more heavily on the domestic market and promote special rates and packages to residents of Ho Chi Minh City and southern Vietnam in general.

Because these customers often have the option of driving to Phan Thiet if they are worried about travelling in an enclosed area on planes, trains, and buses, they are much more likely to travel during the epidemic.

We are stressing the fact that our resort is very large and, therefore, no guest needs to be in a crowded environment. Also, our promotions remind guests that getting out of the city and going to the beach at this time of the year is a potentially much healthier lifestyle.

As there have been no infected people reported in Binh Thuan province, we stress that choosing to spend time here is a good option for people who worry about being around a lot of people in the city.

We have informed all our staff members about the disease, how it spreads, and how to cope with it on our premises. We have advised them to constantly wash their hands with soap and especially turn away from others to cough or sneeze and wash their hands with soap and water afterwards.

We have also given all of our staff permission to wear masks at work if they wish to as one way of creating a safe environment for our guests.

In my opinion, it is important for us to work with the media and local authorities to educate the public about the effects this disease has on our business, as well as about ways that we are working on to mitigate those effects.

We also encourage the local media, such as newspaper, radio, and TV channels to stress that Binh Thuan province remains a safe and beautiful place to visit during this crisis.

WAYNE WOODS - General Manager of Eastin Grand Hotel Saigon

high hopes in hospitality

Overall, demand has decreased significantly. Vietnam is one of the top 10 destinations for Chinese travellers, hence the impact of the virus and subsequent travel bans are certainly being felt across the hospitality industry. Additionally, global business travellers are holding off on travelling to Asia unless absolutely necessary. Our hotel is just one of the many that have been affected by the outbreak of the virus.

We have implemented strict protocols for our guests and staff to follow. For example, all surfaces in public areas such as lift panels, coffee tables, reception counters are cleaned and sprayed with disinfectant every 30 minutes. All our staff are wearing masks as a precaution and we have sanitising alcohol gel and disinfectant available throughout the hotel.

Additionally, we are measuring the temperature of all guests entering the hotel, as well as the temperature of all staff twice a day. The safety of our guests and staff are our highest priority. We want our guests to know that every possible measure has been taken to ensure they have a clean and safe environment.

The hospitality industry, along with many other industries, has been hit quite hard and currently, there is no specific date when the business will return to a normal level. I would suggest the government to look at potential tax benefits to assist businesses affected by the virus. This is something that has been implemented in my home country Australia.

It is also a good time to focus on domestic tourism and promote travelling within the country. The airline industry could offer special domestic fares which would certainly boost this segment.

Guillermo Pantoja - General manager of Meliá Hanoi

high hopes in hospitality

Our hotel has faced a serious drop in bookings after the Lunar New Year holidays. In these weeks and in line with the news development, many guests, companies, and travel agencies have cancelled their reservations for the coming weeks and months.

While we continue to host an important number of guests we can clearly see that the leisure segment is one of the most affected industries with numerous cancellations from customers from Europe, North America, and Australia. With the increase of cases in South Korea and Japan, the bookings from these markets have immediately come to a complete stop.

Meliá Hanoi is following all recommendations from the Vietnamese authorities. At the same time, the hotel has implemented a series of actions and directives recommended by our corporate office of Melia Hotels International, based on their experience with the same situation at our hotels in China during the previous month.

These include temperature checks for all staff entering the hotel, providing disinfectant gel around sensitive areas of the hotel, additional cleaning of sensitive areas with special chemicals on an hourly basis, and the decontamination of the entire hotel grounds.

We believe these measures ensure the safety and protection of our guests and staff and ensure a comfortable stay for all of them.

The outbreak of COVID-19 is greatly affecting Vietnam’s tourism as well as that of many other countries around the world. We believe that once the situation is over, Vietnam has the potential to reattract customers and thereby revive the country’s industry.

It will not be an easy task to appeal to customers and will require a great effort in PR from the Vietnam Tourism Association.

At this stage, we believe the country is showing a great effort in combatting COVID-19, taking some difficult measures, such as banning flights from and to some high-risk areas, which will see positive results in the long run and should increase Vietnam’s capacity to overcome this difficult situation.

high hopes in hospitality

Dang Bao Hieu - Founder & CEO Focus Travel

high hopes in hospitality

With experiences learned from the previous crisis - SARS epidemic - in 2003, this time, the government this time should plan out right and wise tourism development strategies to get up from COVID-19 fright, which requires a higher level of risk management when tourism contributes an average 10 per cent to GDP. We should pay more attention to the sustainable development of tourism instead of rapid growth which could lead to imbalance and lack of control. This is based on the basis of preserving tourism resources in harnessing mass tourism and traditional tourism.

In a small-scaled company where the business owner is self-employed, it is somehow easier to effectively manage operation and develop quickly. Meanwhie in a average-scaled travel agency, they may be forced to restructure: in terms of personnel, salaries, leave regimes, sales system, and products.

The year 2020 marks our 20th anniversary of establishment, we are looking forward to the day COVID-19 is no longer a serious threat to tourism businesses and the economy steps on recovery, which is forecasted to come by the last quarter of 2020. At the moment, we are working hard to create new products, carry out surveys and assessments, implement training programmes, with lower R&D budget. This period is a break for us, and other to focus on improving our business, revamping working environment, and getting ready for a new tourism bloom.

Cheah Kuan Yean - General director Becamex Hospitality

high hopes in hospitality

Since its official declaration as a public health emergency by the WHO, Becamex New City and Becamex Thu Dau Mot have been equipped with surgical masks for all staff. In addition, we are following strict action plans to guarantee the safety of our guests and staff.

As such, we continuously propagate how to wear masks properly by showing videos in our public areas, strictly request our housekeeping to wear masks and one-time rubber gloves, and use alcohol-based hand wash for all departments who have any contact with guests and their belongings.

In addition, we informed all our staff about the disease and its symptoms so that in case anybody notices any of them we will be able to take precautions, inform medical authorities, and respond in a timely manner. Posters with this information are also being distributed in all areas such as the kitchen, staff’s locker rooms, and other rooms. Just to be sure, we are also measuring the temperature of our staff daily whenever they come and go to work.

Furthermore, we have required all our drivers to take the same cautious approach, wear face masks whenever passengers are on board, and wash their hands after interacting with any objects.

Finally, we have prepared rooms as quarantine zones for each hotel, so that when someone with symptoms is found, the person can wait in these rooms while waiting for a medical authority to come and provide proper treatment.

Our board of directors continuously updates both hotels with accurate information from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Ministry of Education and Training, and other organisations in order to respond quickly to any changes.

Dao Xuan Thinh - General director Thinh Dat JSC

high hopes in hospitality

In the past couple of weeks, COVID-19 has caused serious damage to Vietnam’s tourism industry and, of course, Le Champ Tu Le Resort is also among the businesses that suffered. A number of bookings for February have been postponed to April and May while domestic tourists are slightly on the rise for the same period. It is fortunate that the number of visitors from epicentres like China, South Korea, Japan, and Italy at Le Champ is low, while domestic and European visitors hardly cancel their tours; therefore, our business does not yet face a crisis.

We have also received new group bookings from Australia and some European countries. Although the numbers are not high, it comes as our new hope during this stressful period, and we are delighted that visitors still know and believe in the safety of a new resort.

Every day, we update our staff and visitors with the Ministry of Health’s recommendations and guides. The prevention measures are also strictly implemented, such as disinfecting the entire resort three times a week and providing hand sanitisers in the restaurant and guest rooms. We also require our staff to use masks and gloves when serving meals to visitors. In addition, we also check carefully where our guests come from and are co-operating with local health facilities to take timely measures if customers show any signs of health instabilities.

In the long run, we will continue to implement hygiene measures so that visitors will always feel safe when staying at Le Champ Tu Le Resort, even after COVID-19 has been contained.

Besides these challenges, we identified this as an appropriate time for us to focus on training our staff not only on how to prevent the spread of diseases but also on their attitude and service skills up to the 5-star standard. Despite being a newly-established resort, quality and customer satisfaction are always at the forefront of our business philosophy, and we pledge to keep making more efforts day by day to improve ourselves.

We believe holidaymakers can find plenty of reasons to feel relaxed and safe when staying here. Le Champ Tu Le Resort is located in Tu Le valley of Van Chan district, Yen Bai province, blessed with the fresh climate and beautiful landscape of the Northwestern mountains. Here, visitors do not have to worry about fine dust or pollution like in big cities. People are also very friendly and offer many local dishes made from regional ingredients, with virtually no chemicals. Our resort features an onsen bath with natural hot spring water, which is a place for visitors to relax. The hot mineral water is also considered a cure for many diseases of the joints and skin.

So far, Yen Bai has not had any COVID-19 infections, so I think it is right to say that Le Champ Tu Le Resort at this time is still a safe destination for guests. For such tourism business like us, we hope the government and related authorities will offer tax incentives.

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