Company: Hotel Meliá Luxembourg
Interviewed person: Rogier van Zantem
Position: General Manager
What impact is the Covid-19 crisis having on the hospitality industry in Luxembourg?
It has had a severe impact on the hospitality industry as travel literally came to a halt as of the 19th of March. Luxembourg is known for its diversity and being one of the main capitals of the European Union we are depending upon free border crossings and air transportation. Our Business is 90% international and with cross border workers and guests not being able to travel, there is only a very small market left. Add to this the state of Emergency and the confinement, all the pillars of hospitality are “taken away” making it almost impossible to continue working as we had no more guests. Melia Luxembourg has been one of the first hotels on the Kirchberg since we opened 10 years ago, being part of the Luxembourgish community we offered our capacities immediately to the Government in order to support the Hospital Staff and the Government to manage this pandemic Virus. We now see that our neighboring countries are recovering much faster as they have a big domestic market and unfortunately, Luxembourg was never positioned as a holiday destination, this has made our recovery very slow and we hope that after the summer holidays business will start to resume again.
What measures have been taken in Luxembourg in relation to COVID-19 in this sector?
In my opinion the Chomage Partiel that was initiated by the Luxembourgish Government has helped a lot in preventing hotels from laying off staff and it secured jobs. Secondly the combined efforts of providing Hotel beds for the Hospital Staff and volunteers has helped us in keeping the Hotel open whilst others were closing. As a sector we have helped each other making sure that we support as an industry the guests that are staying with us. On the hand I do believe that HoResCa is not represented enough within the Government structure. Most of the support measurements initiated were focused on Small and Medium Enterprises, our Sector was the first to feel the impact and probably the last one to recover as such we do hope that further measures will be taken to help sustain our sector. If we want to grow as a destination and as a country, you need the Hotels and Restauarants as they are the ones delivering the experience that makes visitors come back.
Meliá Hotels International has recently launched the program “Stay Safe with Meliá”. What are the objectives of this program?
The program is based in four pillars: Health & Safety, Operational Processes & Standards, Cleaning and Disinfection and Technical Facilities. By the means of this four vectors the program is focused on ensuring the highest level of safety for guests and employees, optimizing our operational processes through digitalization, in order to reduce contact interaction between customers and employees. We are working together with Bureau Veritas, who has certified our program and will start soon certifying our hotels with their label Global Safe Site.
What specific measures has your hotel implemented in terms of health security?
We have implemented all the measures according to our program Stay Safe with Meliá, however I would like to highlight two of them. First, we have reinforced the disinfection of all the areas following our Cleaning and Disinfection guidelines which have been developed together with a very well know partner in the cleaning market, we cover all the risk touch point following a hazard analysis. Second, we have implemented effective social distance measures through physical barriers, when possible, and digitalization, i.e. we have implemented QR codes for menus, room service and other important information.
In your opinion, will it be possible to see a change of model in the hospitality sector after Covid19?
A good question indeed, one that is keeping us all busy as definitely our business has changed for good. Not just the way we work but also the way we manage our Hotels and Team Members but also the Guests expectations have changed. The guest is looking for the “pre-Covid” experience with all the amenities and niceties we used to offer. Add to this the lower prices based on low demand and less Revenue, consequently we now should deliver a product that is even better and more safe at a lower price and following all Health and Safety regulations. This is the challenge we have ahead of us.
We will see a quantum leap in technology entering our hotels as we push for Digitalization such as online Check In and Check Out, digital room keys, digital Food and Beverage experiences from ordering upto payment as well as digital side inspections and online meetings.
We are a “People” Industry and this will always remain a key pillar, the roles that our Team Members are doing will change and the way we interact with our Guests will change. In the end the “Guest – Experience” we deliver will be a combination of Digital – and Personal experience, the guest will decide how much of each he or she would like to have in order to come back to our hotels.
We are a strong Hospitality Chain and with our Portfolio of hotels, I am positive that we will be able to adapt to the changing needs and demands. This has always been at the core of our DNA. Creating the best experience in an ever evolving market.