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Hotels cry ‘SOS’

Hotels are now at a point when cutting costs is simply not enough anymore.

There’s a song that goes, “Wake me up when September ends…” Such is perhaps our feeling on this seemingly endless bout with COVID-19, the highly infectious coronavirus that caused the world to stop in its tracks, so to speak.

When the pandemic ends (sooner, we hope, than later), we will likely make a beeline for all the things we missed: malls, restaurants, salons, beaches and mountains.

In fact, a survey that the Department of Tourism conducted in partnership with the Asian Institute of Management revealed that 77 percent of 12,000 respondents expressed a willingness to travel domestically once the market is open.

This inspired the members of the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) Philippines, with 147 members to date, to come up with a campaign that would help jumpstart the industry, especially as the “curve” is reportedly already “flattening.”

According to Pearl Maclang, spokesperson for HSMA, it is no longer about making the big profits, but to help stimulate the market. They believe many leisure travelers are watching out for offers and, as hoteleiers, they are remaining positive and moving forward.

ACCOMMODATION and dining deals are on offer to help stimulate the market.

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MAKATI SHANGRI-LA

Some hotels in Metro Manila have partnered with certain medical institutions to include in their accommodation packages the RT-PCR tests that determines whether one is clear of the COVID-19 virus or not. The Bellevue Manila, for example, is in partnership with Asian Hospital for three nights and the swab test at about P13,000+. For outgoing and incoming domestic tourists, HSMA’s chairperson Margarita Munsayac mentioned that antigen testing is now the requirement, making the costs even more reasonable.

The hotel industry, which has been coping with the unexpected effects of the pandemic by coming up with operational adjustments to survive, is now at a point when cutting costs simply won’t be enough anymore.

“Most of the hotels had to implement a skeletal force and enforce pay cuts in order to survive. Contractual staff were the first to go. Other hotels had to temporarily close instead of competing with other hotels on the limited market that are alllowed to utilize the hotels. Utilities were also considered to cut costs; hence, electricity in outlets and unused areas of the hotels were also closed, and use of elevators were also limited since occupancy is low,” HSMA president Christine Ibarreta tells the Daily Tribune.

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF DUSITD2 DAVAO

While overseas Filipinos and returning overseas Filipinos, as well as the BPOs, have largely helped metro hotels survive as they have been using these establishments as their residences, some of the regional hotels and resorts have felt a boost from dining guests when their quarantine restrictions were eased. Others, however, have not been so fortunate.

“It’s our worst nightmare in the hotel and hospitality industry in terms of business and revenues,” declares Carmela Bocanegra, vice president for Sales and Marketing of Chroma Hospitality. “It’s still nothing compared to normal. We’re trying to get by or at least break even as much as we can.”

This has led the HSMA to hold the September Online Sale, or S.O.S.

The industry is keeping an optimistic mindset as it waits for middle of 2021 for business to start picking up again.

Organized with the support of the Tourism Promotions Board, HSMA’s S.O.S. is a two-week online sale of 89 hotel accommodations and other offerings across the country, to be held on 15 to 30 September 2020. Through HSMA’s website, www.hsma.org.ph, travelers can find exclusive discounts of up to 70 percent off on regular rates of hotels in each of the featured destinations.

“Some of the promos are valid for up to a year — and even more — while the others even have no expiration on their validity,” says Maclang. “For travelers, the S.O.S. is both a limited-time offer that can help them save on their next trip, and a chance to help the Philippines’ tourism industry bounce back from COVID-19.”

Munsayac reiterates that “all properties featured in the event have passed stringent health and hygiene safety protocols.”

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF UNSPLASH/JASON BRISCOE

Benjie Martinez, HSMA vice president, assures, “The hotels will have to follow the protocols set by government. That is why validity of vouchers are at a minimum of one year and, if there are limitations in the coming months, hotels are flexible with the validity indicated in the voucher , taking into consideration the situation.

Hotels are also advised to provide information on the procedures and/or restrictions, if any, upon reservation of guests.”

Meanwhile, Ibarreta stressed that this initiative offers hope for an estimated 5.7 million hospitality employees and workers. “We have no illusions that life will be the same — if and when restrictions are lifted. But the public’s patronage and advanced bookings from the sale gives us hope that things will get better. It will also enable us to plan ahead in terms of manpower and other operational requirements so that we will be able to hit the ground running when the pandemic scare is over.”

HSMA’s event partners are the Department of Tourism, Tourism Promotions Board Philippines, Atlantis and iSentia.

Credit belongs to : www.tribune.net.ph

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