By KRIZETTE CHU
The hospitality industry has been hit hardest by the pandemic—no one’s traveling for either business or leisure, people are working at home, families aren’t eating out—but in an online YouTube live press conference held by the top managers of hotel brands Manila Marriott Hotel, Sheraton Manila Hotel, Holiday Inn Express, Savoy and Belmont, Hilton Manila, and Hotel Okura held on Friday morning, the industry is raring to reopen.
Gone are the days guests’ primary concern is: “How will you pamper me?” Now, the focus is, “How can you keep me safe?”
With three months of preparation, Manila’s top hospitality leaders are ready to change the landscape.
1. Sheraton Hotel Manila is offering a work from hotel concept, and Marriott Manila will work with “flexible” hours.
Sheraton Hotel Manila’s Anna Vergara says that the property is looking at a “work from hotel” concept, launching the first co-working space by the Sheraton brand in Asia Pacific. The idea: Provide additional space—with perks—for companies who do not have enough space at a time when employees are expected to be socially distancing.
“The WFH concept is not just offering a space but a one-stop solution specifically for BPOs,” says Vergara. “At our co-working space, they have their teams intact, dedicated internet connection, Teams A and B provided with all the resources.” The co-working space is an ample 1,300 square meters, plus imagine working with a view of the airport, plus have a nice gym, pool, and great restaurants a few steps away.
At Marriott, general manager Bruce Winton has announced the introduction of flexible hours. “Having a day rate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. will be perfect for executives,” he says. “They can order room service, have it delivered to their rooms, and have 12 hours of dedicated space. Multiple guest rooms can also be booked, or a single room for somebody who needs quiet with additional extra service.
2. Expect actual seals of cleanliness in your room to assure clients of the strictest sanitation protocols.
You will know you’re the first person to enter the room with Hilton Hotel’s “Clean Stay” room seal, says its general manager Simon McGrath. “The customer journey is really important to us, from the thermal checks upon entry, health check on arrival, until the guests make their way to the room,” he says. “There are 10 key touchpoints critical to the guest. When they pick up a telephone, a television remote— a client will wonder, who touched that before—so now, you have a seal around the remote so you know that it has been disinfected. That seal will be put in all the key areas.”
Marriott banks on its 93-year history for its detailed expertise in safety and sanitation. Winton says, “High quality products, training and supervision, follow-up consistency—these will be the hallmarks. A good portion of our time is dedicated to following up and making sure all procedures are in place and followed consistently.” At Holiday Inn Express, general manager Boy Beloso promises a contactless journey. He says, “What we are trying to put our emphasis on is contactless transaction, from check-in to checkout. The guests will not be asked to sign a registration card, and we are working on a cashless journey.” The soon-to-open Okura Hotel, slated to launch in fourth quarter of this year, draws on its Japanese heritage. Jan Marshall, the GM, shares, “Cleaning, hygiene, safety is part of the DNA of the Japanese people and the DNA of our company. From Day 1, our staff has already been taught the Japanese way.”
3. Contactless will be the way to go.
Hilton hotel’s Digital Key, launched two years ago, is the pioneering technology that will set them apart. What this means is you can go online, book your room, choose a room like you do an aircraft seat, and when you arrive using your digital key, you can go inside your room without even touching the door. “Contactless interactions will prove extremely popular, and this is the type of innovation that Hilton is famous for,” says McGrath. “We are moving toward a platform digital checkin, and contactless digital checkout.” Megaworld’s homegrown hotels Savoy and Belmont will soon launch what they dub as the ultimate service. Says general manager Avinash Menon, “Megaworld Hotel’s E-concierge, launched soon for Megaworld Hotels, is a fully digital app that guests can use for mobile checkins and checkouts, ordering online from outlets, and addressing concerns in real time. This will offer cashless transactions, online food ordering, and online guest feedback.”
4. Food will be consumed differently.
Stephen Reilly, the chief operating officer of Resorts World Manila, has launched food delivery for the mall and entertainment complex’s restaurants. “We decided to give it a Filipino touch. It will be cooked by us, packed by us, and delivered by us. The people who will deliver it to our customers may be people they already know, like their favorite waiter.” Cafe Belmont and Savoy both launched on-the-go gourmet delivery services, where the menu consists of curated meal sets from their all-day restaurants, and they have also introduced a chat bot food app, where diners can directly order on FB messenger. You can pick up your order, but you can also choose for hotel staff to deliver, so you feel the difference of a gourmet food delivery.
Sheraton has on-the-go deliveries, too, but has opened last Monday to 30 percent capacity. “We have gotten a lot of walk ins, which was a pleasant surprise because we thought people were worried about dining out,” Vergara says.
5. Big spaces and venues will be a plus.
“Meetings and events are dramatically impacted by the pandemic,” Winston said. The plus side: Marriott’s grand ballroom is over 3,000 square meters. “The nice thing about the Marriott Grand Ballroom, it is grand, and can help with implementing social distancing protocols. Our goal for our foreseeable future is to accommodate clients without putting additional financial burden on them. If you have 200 people, you will now need space for 400 people. We will be able to host events for them, we can do temperature screening, registration. There is dramatic difference in how we serve the food. We will have a complete meal in a sealed container, and there will be no more buffets and coffee breaks, and everything will be handled by a highly trained team, and we will have a mobile application,” Marriott’s GM says. “We are excited to get moving again. Whatever comes our way, we have expertise, resources, and space.”