July 2, 2020

From the HFTP Dubai Research Center: Guide to Industry Recovery

Written by Ana-Denisa Irimescu, Dubai Research Scholar — Contributor

The hospitality industry in Dubai has had an interesting year. In response, the Dubai HFTP Research and Innovation Center at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management decided to close the academic year with a road map to post-pandemic recovery for the hospitality industry.

Editor’s note: The following has been edited for HFTP Connect.

The tourism and hospitality industries have been forging into uncharted territories. In just a few months, the impact of Covid-19 has brought the global economy to a state worse than the economic downturn experienced during the U.S. Great Depression in 1933....This downturn, and the constant uncertainty that came with it, have left many hospitality leaders to wonder what is next.

The keys to turn the consequences of the pandemic into a road map to recovery include out-of-the-box thinking, innovation and courage. It is important to understand the psychology of the consumer during these uncertain times in order to determine the appropriate initiatives that will give guests a sense of security and safety. For example, individual hand sanitizers, masks and gloves could be included in the guestroom amenity kit alongside the shampoo and conditioner.

The “new normal” has created a fundamental and permanent change in consumer behavior. By strategically adapting to this new 2020 effect, hospitality professionals can synthesize a faster recovery for the industry.

In an article from the Guinn center, it suggested taking the following steps towards recovery:

  1. Analyze. — Review a variety of performance indicators to assess your property’s current situation. This includes past and current budgets, data and statistics.

  2. Stabilize. — After this initial analysis, identify ways to keep your operations afloat without further negative impacts. This includes cutting inessential costs, short-term gap planning and reaching out to loyal customers.

  3. Understand. — Expand on your initial analysis with a broad review of industry trends and competitors’ actions. This includes building new partnerships, addressing shifting customer behaviors and implementing new service opportunities.

  4. Plan. — This is when you build longer-term strategies for when the economic climate is healthier. Understand, that you might not be able to go back to the pre-pandemic status-quo. Rather plan for the post-pandemic guest. This includes building out a marketing plan that is segmented, and responsive to new consumer preferences.

  5. Implement. — Not much to explain here. This is the stage where you roll out your developed strategies. It is important to attach analytic tools to these programs so you can measure KPIs and adjust as needed.

  6. Re-launch. — Open your property for business and promote.

  7. Measure and Optimize. — As your opening moves beyond its initial stage, pay attention to the results. Do you see a correlation between your strategy and occupancy? Continue to analyze and course correct as needed.

As several countries around the world plan to open their barriers again and welcome tourists, Dubai is also taking precautionary measures as it gradually reopens for tourism. This initiative focuses on creating unique value for consumers and delivering an uncompromising guest experience.

To achieve this great goal, health and safety must remain a top priority. By relying on the solidarity of stakeholders and institutionalizing a community of industry partners and the government, Dubai can develop innovative tourism strategies and real-time, proactive responses to ensure the longevity of Dubai as one of the world’s leading tourism destinations.

There are other strategies that hotels can use to fuel post-pandemic growth. One strategy for hotels is to offer extended stays. Brand conversion is another such strategy, where an existing hotel is re-branded or re-flagged.

A great example of this is Choice Hotels. Out of the 60 new franchise agreements, 42 hotels were brand conversions, demonstrating an innovative method to generate growth post-pandemic.

This is the time to review and assess your property’s position, and potentially make some fundamental changes that lead to success as travelers start seeking accommodations. The key is to continually monitor data and react accordingly to keep your rooms occupied.

List of References

Nalewak-Giraldo, T. (2020) "Hospitality Marketing: Roadmap-to-recovery post-pandemic." Available from https://guinncenter.org/hospitality-marketing-roadmap-to-recovery-post-pandemic/. [Accessed: 08 June 2020]

Fox, J.T. (2020) "HM roundtable examines post-pandemic hospitality." Available from: https://www.hotelmanagement.net/operate/hm-roundtable-examines-post-pandemic-hospitality [Accessed: 09 June 2020]

Sperance, C. (2020) "Choice hotels expects brand conversions and extended stay to fuel post-pandemic growth." Available from: https://skift.com/2020/05/11/choice-hotels-expects-brand-conversions-and-extended-stay-to-fuel-post-pandemic-growth/ [Accessed: 12 June 2020]

Ana-Denisa Irimescu is a research scholar for the Dubai HFTP Research and Innovation Center at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management.

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