Hygiene And Sanitation: The Brand Differentiator Of Future For The Hospitality Industry
No one can predict if social distancing will work or to what extent will it be helpful – but the need of the hour is to adopt and adapt to the New Norm at the earliest!
Covid-19 has been one of those ground breaking paradigm shifts that take place every couple of decades and the service industry, characterized by close guest contact has been adversely effected. The usual operating method of the hospitality business will see a drastic shift and we need to prepare ourselves to imbibe the New Normal; the sooner the better. Our priorities have changed significantly over the past four months. Hygiene and Sanitation compliance will be the new brand differentiators. I am not saying service and brand standards take a back seat – but sanitation, hygiene and the importance of a safe contact-less experience will now be at the forefront and the parameters that will help brands to create their differentiation. No one can predict if social distancing will work or to what extent will it be helpful – but the need of the hour is to adopt and adapt to the New Norm at the earliest!
As a responsible multinational company, we are predestined to have a certain advantage over our competitors in implementing world class cleaning standards. In this time of uncertainty and crisis we have a duty to safeguard the well-being of all stakeholders. The implementation of the new cleaning standards that are being rolled out will manifest itself over time; it is a responsible investment into the future that creates trust and confidence in our brand. If we don’t change now than when? If we don’t have sufficient mental agility to adapt to the changing environment, we will all face the same destiny as the dinosaurs did millions of years ago; they failed too to adapt to the changing circumstances.
The winners in this race will be companies that bring speed to the market and embrace the wind of change. International companies will have a head start, customers will vote with their feet – the next six month will be about compliancy and adaptation. Face masks and hand sanitizers will be ubiquitous in hotels and restaurants. The customer of the future will base his patronage on hygiene and sanitation standards first followed by price points.
The age of big crowds will be over (at least in the foreseeable future) and we all have to make painful adjustments in seating arrangements in bars and restaurants. As seating capacities will be reduced so will income, a vicious circle. No doubt, the present COVID-19 crisis presents a perfect opportunity for our industry to examine our past business model and reflect on what worked and what didn’t and how can we improve and succeed. Focus will shift from increased sanitation paranoia to efficiency improvement and sooner or later the new economic paradigm that has been forced upon us will dictate the same staffing levels we have seen in Europe and the USA. That begs the question will our customers embrace the ensuing change and perceive us as adopting to the habits and management style of the US at the detriment of service deliveries!
Their verdict is still out but painful adjustments have to be made; it is time to be resilient, critical and reflective.
Once the lockdown will be lifted I am confident we should see a quick return to healthy business levels e.g. increasing international demand and positive cash flow. Business needs to continue, customers need to be served, investors want to be satisfied, and salaries have to be paid. India is one of the largest consumer markets in the world and once the airline industry is on their feet again occupancy levels will increase, restaurants will be visited and meetings will take place – albeit at a lower level initially. The expected demand will inevitably come with depressed rates.
The amount of “pent up demand” that has accumulated over the last four months is colossal and needs to be satisfied. It is our responsibility to meet this demand. In my opinion it will take 12 to 18 months before we see business patterns emerging to pre COVOD-19 levels. A crisis of that magnitude will bring out the best and worst in people. There is certainly more than a ray of hope on the horizon and yes, we will travel again.
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