Last week, Hotelintel.co held a webinar in conjunction with sister publication Global Travel Media - the topic "The Future of Hotels and Accommodation Post-Covid".
The entire webinar ran for almost two hours with an internationally sourced panel of hoteliers, hotel executives and experts from companies including from IHG, Centara Hotels and Resorts and AHS. The webinar in its entirety can be viewed here.
The following is the transcript of the presentation of Hotelintel.co's founder Wimintra.
Host (John Alwyn-Jones): Wimintra J. Raj is the Founder and Editor in Chief of of Hotelintel.co which is the leading regional B2B, B2C online intelligence publication hoteliers, hotel owners, hotel investors and other industry related professionals. When she isn't writing, she's speaking at industry events with a proven track record of building up and running a really successful online industry specific magazine Wimintra - why don't you tell us your views on what the hotel and accomodation sector might look like going forward as a result of Covid.
Wimintra: Thank you John - so I think we've covered a lot of the overview of what it might look like, so I'd like to touch a little more on what the future might look like for HOTEL OPERATORS and Management companies I think we have a few of ur owners here joining us today.
Some of them are my friends and I've actually talked to them. I think that 'flexibility' is a key word here I feel like hotel operators have to be more flexible in terms of forcing their rules and regulations, and brand standards onto owners, because during this time it hasn't been easy holding to the brand books - it's the last thing that owners want to be doing right now. It's the last thing that anybody wants - you need to be flexible. I feel that 'franchises' will be the next big thing.
In the US, franchises are very popular, but in SE Asia, Marriott, Hilton IHG etc. make their money from management fees. I think that that is going to change in the future. Hotel owners will change more towards franchise type agreements because they will have more control.
I was talking to one owner recently and he said that because of Covid, because of the health and hygiene standards, they were told that they need to use specific equipment that needs to be imported from the US that cost USD$20-30,000, while we could actually source it locally.
So things like that need to be re-thinked Operators need to be flexible with their terms in contracts.
Another thing that we've seen Room cleaning.
People talk about 'Ecolab' - great, they have amazing products, but we also have other things that aren't too bad. And [those required products] would cost owners more. So if operators want to keep their hotels open, the biggest concern for the owners, is to be able to pay the bank.
Keeping the hotel clean - great, social distancing - great, hiring everyone - great but the owner is thinking how am I going to freaking pay the bank by the end of the month? That's something that's really important and I think that big brand hotel operators need to rethink that quickly Another thing is that I also think that in the future we will need to diversify.
People talk about how we just rely on one market. For example in Asia - in Thailand we heavily rely on the Chinese market. We talk about the local market, but we actually really do rely heavily on them [China] I've talked to some hotel owners And brands who would tell me that they don't want this specific market in our hotel, but now it's like 'okay' We will have whoever wants to come to our hotel. Another thing that we want to talk about is the future of hiring staff. I think that a lot of hotels have realised that you can operate with less staff than you thought you needed.
Because of the technology that's coming in And the money's not there now, so you max out on your staff. I think that the way that we're hiring staff will be a little bit different. I don't think that we need guest service agents anymore if that works. It doesn't make any sense now. with all the social distancing, you don't want people to walk and follow you everywhere. Or kneel down to you offering you drinks or food.
So the way that you're hiring people is going to change. A lot of the work will be replaced by technology and I.T. New skill sets will need to be adopted and people will need to learn more about digital marketing, they will need to be able to write they'll need to be able to interact with guests directly. So a lot of jobs will be replaced And a lot of positions will have to be combined into one position (consolidated) Another thing that I was talking about in terms of media The way we do media and the way that hotels send media will change as well. Right now, we as media companies Stephen, John, me - we know that when we talk to hotels or suppliers, Everyone says that they don't have budget.
They realise that they don't need us like they used to before because they can just use social media and digital marketing So the way that they do media will change as well because they rely heavily on digital marketing but then again, you will need the media because we're here and we have 'authority' to talk about your product. You don't have 'authority' to talk about your product yourself. If you talk about your product without 3rd party media, it feels like it doesn't have that authority to do that.
So that's the future for me. Management companies need to be flexible. They need to work with hotel owners. Your brand book doesn't mean anything. It's not a bible. It's not a constitution. You need to be able to re-think. And work with the owners. Franchises are on the way for SE Asia. And it will be the way to go, because owners feel like they can benefit more from a franchise model and there will be a lot more new companies that have asset management companies and onwer-reps who come in and really help owners in the operating of their hotels.