Radisson Hotel Group Area Senior Vice President Middle East & Africa Tim Cordon reveals his turnaround plan to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, and what’s coming in the future for the properties he supervises.
What have your operational priorities been during this time?
There were many factors we’ve had to consider from an operational perspective, including repurposing some of our hotels for essential service use, adapting new strategies and approaches to secure a strong reopening as tourism restarts, expanding hygiene, sanitation and precautionary measures, and social distancing implementation.
While the current situation has had a profound impact on daily operations, we have taken advantage of this time to refine various elements and procedures to ensure our teams and hotels are fully prepared to maximise their potential, while safeguarding our teams and guests when the gates of travel reopen.
What are some processes that have changed?
One of our highest priorities at Radisson Hotel Group is the continued health, safety, and security of our guests, team members, and business partners, which is why we recently launched the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol, a new programme of in-depth cleanliness and disinfection procedures, in partnership with SGS, the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing, and certification company.
These enhanced protocols, operational guidance and comprehensive health and safety procedures validated by SGS will be adapted based on local requirements and recommendations, to ensure guests’ safety and peace of mind from check-in to check-out. We will soon be announcing an extension to our brand commitment, which includes 20 Steps and an additional 10-Step protocol for Meetings & Events.
We know that people will want to explore again, and while the behaviour or priorities might change, it’s about how we adapt to those changes.
Do you expect an immediate impact on operations with international tourism reopening in Dubai?
While we would all like a speedy recovery, I think the global hospitality industry will still face uncertain times until medical innovations are able to mitigate some of the fluctuating circumstances.
Every day is a new challenge, but COVID-19 has also taught us the importance of communications – internally with our guests, team members with our partners and locally. Being able to swiftly adapt, respond and implement will be key moving forward.
From what we have seen in previous crises, leisure travel is expected to recover faster, particularly travel for visiting friends and relatives, more than business travel.
The good news is that our colleagues around the globe are already seeing positive news and changes within the hospitality sector, but it has also become clearer that it will take some time for international travel to resume back to normal.
As we enter this new era of travel, we will all need to implement various methods to ensure that travellers maintain their personal space, making them and others feel safe and at ease.
What do you think will be the lasting impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry?
The good news is that our colleagues around the globe are already seeing positive changes within the hospitality sector, as restrictions begin to ease. It’s becoming clear that it will take some time for our hotels to resume back to “normal” operations.
A big part of getting back to business will be assuring guests that it’s safe to get back to their travel habits. Moving forward, technology will be a key tool in the revival of travel, with electronic passports and IDs, boarding passes, medical screening, and robot cleaners being deployed.
What’s your outlook for the future?
I think the biggest priority for hospitality brands is to ensure the health and safety of guests, without compromising the guest experience. While location and experiences used to be the main deciding factor, consumers also want to be reassured that hotels are taking their health and safety seriously.
For certain travellers, travelling itself might be a concern, so by the time they walk through our doors, we want them to feel reassured that they can enjoy their travel experience from check-in to check-out and won’t have to worry.
While these have been challenging times, we’re pushing forward with our hotel plans, including our development plans. Radisson Hotel Group recently announced 15 new signings in EMEA in Q2, six of which fall in our region.
The travel industry has rebounded from numerous past crises and we strongly believe we will all bounce back again, with a fresh and innovative perspective.