As the world tries to go back to a semblance of normalcy in the face of a pandemic, businesses who have lost revenue are striving to get back on their feet. Hotels and resorts, as part of the tourism industry, have taken a huge hit. But with the easing of some quarantine rules, hotels have equipped themselves with the right policies and training to encourage guests to book their next stay.
On June 25, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts announced in the Philippines their “Shangri-La Cares” commitment, which is an initiative by the five-star hotel to intensify measures to keep their guests and colleagues safe.
John Rice, general manager of Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila and vice president for operations in the Philippines, lead the virtual press conference.
While some from the Shangri-La Group have continued their operations since April, their counterparts in the Philippines are waiting for the government’s approval for the reopening of hotel businesses, which will probably happen during the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ). Meanwhile, their staff have been undergoing intensive training (some of them online) so they can adapt to the new policies.
Most of the protocols that will be set in place before guests can enter the hotel are standard for many establishments as they deal with the coronavirus: wearing of mask, temperature check, filling out of health declaration cards, social distancing, to name a few.
For Shangri-La, most engagements will be contactless. Guests may choose to check-in before they arrive at the hotel through a mobile application, and they may also choose to check-out through the same app. Payment options will be contactless. Upon entering the room, guests will be welcomed with a “care package,” which contains a bottle of alcohol, masks, cleansing wipes, etc.
All menu, beverage list, and promotional offerings will be on the digital platforms—although a person can still take orders at a restaurant, while, of course, observing social distancing.
Rice said that while they had zero revenue from bookings since the quarantine measures have been implemented, some of their food and beverage divisions have resumed operations. When dine-in options become available, guests will have very limited contact with the staff; and prior reservations will be required. The tables and chairs will be sanitized after every use.
Inside the Room
Forget the nice-looking notepads and pens that come with hotel rooms. Post-COVID, all paper collaterals will be removed and replaced with digital platforms.
For maximum sanitation and hygiene measures, housekeeping will commence only six hours after each guest’s departure. Used linens will be placed in double-lined sealed bags, and will be washed at high temperature.
Shangri-La also worked with experts to determine the 12-point room cleaning regimen, which focuses on cleaning the highest contact points in a guest room. They will also use ultra-violet light technology and electrostatic spraying devices. Housekeeping attendants will only clean the room in the absence of guests.
The swimming pools, wet areas, and spas will remain closed until further notice. But guests can still workout in the gyms, provided that they maintain a four-square-meter distance from one another. All equipment will be sanitized after every use with modern technology, including a UV light.
While everything seems to be handled well in the operations side, Rice admits that they don’t see the hotels and resorts returning to their pre-COVID days.
“Going back to any sort of normality with our corporate business will not happen until 2022,” he admits. But he adds that they will make up for lost time and revenue with their planned initiatives.
As they wait for the government’s go signal, they remain focused on helping their community and their staff, providing the latter not only with online training, but also with financial and mental wellness programs.
Rice said, “We’ve really made sure that we are part of the fabric of the community. We’ve taken care of our colleagues. We’ve taken care of our businesses. We’ve taken care of our guest. We make sure that we are a responsible member of our community.”
Guests may now book their reservations, and they can cancel if they choose to do so.