The outbreak has a huge impact on the hotel industry. What measures have been taken by the hotel to overcome the suffering, what is the effect?
The virus has had a devastating impact on the Travel industry of which hotels are a part of and Swissotel Kunshan is no exception. We are in a state of recovery but it is a slow climb as Kunshan is a manufacturing city so we are dependent on the output and visitors to the factories. Trust is our hotel’s number one priority so we have followed the guidance of the government and our managing company Accor to allay fears of our guests. We have streamlined operations to accommodate our guests and thankfully we have focused on the Kunshan and Shanghai markets since last year and this has helped us to catch up a bit. We expect that the situation to be ongoing into next year so operations and planning will be with this in mind.
The epidemic situation in China has been basically controlled and the hotel industry is gradually recovering. What is the recovery situation of your hotel?
The business environment is still difficult as companies have streamlined their business travel to save costs and foreigners are still not allowed into the country so this is also a problem for our hotel; we are surviving but its not easy.
What measures did the hotel take to ensure the safety of employees and guests during the outbreak? What is the effect?
We never closed the hotel even at the peak of the virus and this because we always follow strict safety protocols for health and hygiene as a HACCP certified hotel. Our hygiene has been increased according to the special procedures implemented by Accor in tandem with the government’s own guidelines for guests and staff.
At present, the market is gradually recovering. What arrangements will the hotel make in terms of health and safety at present and in the future?
Even as China is currently relatively safe now, the virus still lives so our policies and procedures will remain in place until it is clear it has been eliminated or there is a vaccine to protect us, we cannot relax and don’t intend to.
The epidemic has also had a great impact on the psychology of consumers. How do you think it is possible to rebuild consumers' confidence in the safety of the hotel environment so that they can stay in the hotel at ease?
I believe this will be okay as the government did a great job in controlling and managing the situation even though it was painful at times, therefore the public has trust in the government’s actions and this is a big help psychologically to the public. We have seen customers returning for business and the biggest threat we are challenged with is actually the cost cutting by companies of business travel or types of hotels business travelers are allowed to stay in which has depressed rates, with larger events in the hotel we have to be cautious hosting and even when we get them the rates are very low as everyone is offering low rates to win the business so it's a buyer’s market. The Shanghai market is coming back also as we have a nice area with two parks close to us.
6.What do you think of the recovery prospects of the hotel industry? When do you expect to return to the level before the outbreak? In the process of market recovery, what other aspects need special attention?
The business will recover but it will be a difficult climb and I see this ongoing for the next 12 to 18 months as companies are hammered for cash so travel budgets will be managed very tight, the other unfortunate thing is that many companies learned that video conferencing can be done to get basic work done so this will also shift a certain amount of companies as well. In time things will recover as nothing beats a face to face of a dinner or drink for building relationships in business and one cannot truly enjoy the intangibles and experiences of a destination from a video regardless of how good it is.
Destinations need to really drive the aforementioned home in destination, flying experiences, hotel experiences marketing campaigns and not only rely on tactical price driven ones as this is not what is needed to drive the recovery, the good news is that most surveys show that there is pent up demand for travel not only domestically but also internationally and Chinese are no exception as they have been driving the travel industry for the past 10 year or so years.