Best Western brand leaders from around the globe discuss challenges hotels in different parts of the world are facing because of the pandemic.
GLOBAL REPORT—The Best Western Hotels & Resorts brand and its owners around the world have faced both common and unique challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the regulations and guidelines specific to their region.
One of the biggest challenges of the virus and overseeing multiple locations around the world is keeping up with government regulations, Suzi Yoder, SVP of international operations at Best Western Hotels & Resorts, said during a session at the 2020 Best Western Virtual Convention.
“Staying in tune with what the governments have declared, and what’s legal and what’s illegal, it’s almost different in every country,” she said.
For example, a hotel in Ireland could cut salaries and “everybody understands why,” but in some other countries, the hotel has to get a signed piece of paper from the employee saying they agree to the salary cuts, she said.
To get employees to be the most effective at work during these crucial times, Yoder said she has learned that she must be humble.
She added that this experience has taught her “how to work with people and motivate people more than I did in the past.”
Great Britain and Central Europe
With business travel gone, hotels around the globe have been reliant on domestic leisure business, and some regions have fared better than others with local leisure demand.
Rob Paterson, CEO of Best Western Hotels & Resorts-Great Britain, said “the pie is much bigger than it has been in the past” for the domestic market in his region.
“Our hotels are really well placed for that because we have lots of leisure destinations and resorts, so it’s been very beneficial actually for some of those hotels,” he said.
Carmen Duêcker, CEO of Best Western Hotels & Resorts-Central Europe, said there isn’t enough domestic business in her region.
“I think for all hotels in leisure destinations there’s much more than enough domestic business. They had a great summer season. But this is just one-third of our properties in our region, so two-thirds of those, they are more in city destinations and corporate destinations, and for them all of that international corporate business is absolutely missing,” she said.
While big groups are gone, she said some hotels in her region are benefiting from small- and medium-sized entity business.
France and Southern Europe
Hotels in Southern Europe have had to implement special programs and procedures throughout the pandemic to help guests feel safe, said Giovanna Manzi, CEO of Best Western Hotels & Resorts-Southern Europe.
In addition to following Best Western’s We Care Clean protocols and regional guidelines on cleaning and safety, she said hotels in the region also must provide health insurance for guests throughout their stay, from check-in to check-out.
Olivier Cohn, CEO at Best Western Hotels & Resorts-France, said he has spent a lot of time looking at cleaning procedures because everything needs to be “super, super clean.”
Bed liners and other in-room extras that didn’t make the rooms seem clean have been taken away to help assure guests that all rooms have been sanitized, he said.
The extent of the virus has lessened in China and the situation is improving daily, said William Dong, president and CEO of Best Western Hotels & Resorts-China.
He added that the industry in China will recover sooner if hoteliers and the government continue to work in the right direction.
Olivier Berrivin, managing director of international operations-Asia, said the pandemic has been very challenging in certain parts of Asia.
It’s been especially difficult in Thailand, which has been on full lockdown since the middle of February “meaning we have absolutely no international flights coming in,” he said.
Berrivin said there is some good news for Thailand as there are “people waiting abroad to come back to Thailand, and they have to go through (a mandatory 14-day quarantine), which gives a lot of opportunities to do our best to accommodate those people for two weeks.”
He said Best Western is also focused on the domestic market in Thailand because “there’s a substantial amount of expatriates still in in here working here, and they want to have fun and enjoy during weekends.”