When it comes to the shape of society to come, hospitality holds the cards
March 18, 2021 | Community, News, Openings, Our Team, Signings
Stephanie Pinto, Vice President of Sales at Interstate Hotels & Resorts, takes a look at how the pandemic has changed the way hotel sales teams operate and how, when it comes to a return to normality, hospitality has the power to shape the way people work and play.
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, it tipped everything we do as a sales team on its head.
As all hospitality businesses will know, operating during the coronavirus crisis has been a steep learning curve, but one the team at Interstate Hotels & Resorts has continued to meet with unwavering dedication and, crucially, flexibility.
When most corporate and leisure travel came to a standstill almost overnight, we had to adapt fast to recognise how and where we could offer and adapt our properties to help the national effort.
In the immediate, this was in the form of providing vital accommodation for key workers.
When many healthcare workers faced long periods away from home to protect their loved ones, we kept many of our UK properties open to offer them a safe place to stay.
This required a fast-paced process of reviewing all our operational procedures and hotel layouts to ensure our guests felt safe during their time with us and, those processes have remained in place, enabling us to continue to cater for an incredibly diverse range of guests as the pandemic continues.
Ready to help
In this day and age it’s not about selling – it’s about being empathetic and, as hospitality providers, understanding where we can offer our services in a helpful and meaningful way.
For us, this has been achieved through honing our expertise in specific key sectors that are able to continue travelling and working away from home, such as NHS staff, the construction sector and elite sports teams.
Equally, it has been about identifying where our properties could be used for other purposes, such as flexible office spaces.
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve worked closely with our owners to see what sectors we can support in, reacting swiftly by investing in new tools to help us connect with potential customers, building those important relationships at a time when we cannot meet face-to-face.
That personal connection has not been lost and, as we look ahead, it needs to remain front and foremost in hospitality’s recovery plans as the government’s roadmap progresses and a return to normality gets closer.
Looking to the future
As more people get vaccinated, and the government’s roadmap to ease restrictions continues as planned, we are seeing clear cause for optimism that the leisure and tourism industries will see a real resurgence in the months to come.
From 12 April, we’ll see hospitality venues able to serve customers outdoors while seated without the need for them to order a substantial meal with alcohol and no curfew.
Then from 17 May, indoor hospitality, entertainment venues and the rest of the accommodation sector will be permitted to reopen, with June 21 being the date we all begin to cherish some sort of normality again when it is hoped that all legal limits on social contact can be lifted.
However, to me, the job of adapting is far from over. As our sector starts to reopen, that is the time for our industry to really step to the fore and shape how society returns.
Covid-19 has irreversibly changed the way people live and work and, many of the aspects of pandemic life are likely to continue as people feel a greater emphasis on family values and their work/life balance.
Hospitality has the power to shape the way people experience these important elements in the post-pandemic world.
From creating more small and intimate gathering opportunities for families and friends to reunite, to creating truly innovative ways to deliver meetings and events, the cards are in our hands.
We have a real opportunity to define how both leisure and downtime, as well as corporate hospitality and business travel, look in the new world, be it through increased use of technology, providing more immersive real-world experiences or adapting the way we provide key services such as food and beverage.
We will all emerge from this difficult time craving human connection and familiarity – and that’s exactly what hospitality does best, creating the moments that are now needed more than ever.