Hygiene and safety are temporary differentiators: Shantha de Silva

In a recent BW Hotelier WebBlast, Shantha de Silva, CEO, Plus one, Leadership Mentor and Executive Coach delved into an interesting conversation on the key differentiators the hotels should comply with and the road to normalcy.

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced businesses into making hamstring earnings. Shantha de Silva, CEO, Plus one, Leadership Mentor and Executive Coach speaking at the recent BW Hotelier WebBlast on ‘Future of the Hospitality Industry - An Outside-In View’ expressed concerns over the hotel industry’s newfound dedication for the hygiene and safety norms. He argued that after the dust settles, people will no longer consider them as differentiators from other brands.   

Instead, Silva strongly believes that the sector has to start focusing on differentiators like location and services to attract the customer base. Backing his point, “In Australia, the hygiene norms in hotels are though practiced, however, from a customer point of view they are not that intense or sensitive. We have to start focusing on why a customer should stay with us,” he said. 

Pointing out the situation in India, where hotel chains are trying to maintain their brand identity away from the haze of being labelled as quarantine centers, Silva, who is also the Former Head of South West Asia, IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group), shared a stark difference with the situation in Australia. “The government in Australia was very supportive in over-sighting operations of hotel-turned-centers,” he stated. 

Taking the discussion further, Silva explained there are mainly three stakeholder groups suffering due to the pandemic: owners, managers, and workforce. Wearing his CEO hat, Silva shared the plight of the workforce (employees) in the present harrowing times. He pointed out the need for lobbying the government to support the employees.

Discussing the need for taking baby steps towards resuming operations, Silva thinks that the industry should come together as a collective. He elaborated that a collective ‘Collaboration’ (Sahayog) is imperative throughout the industry along with the notion of rivalry to bring the best work forward. He opined that a crisis situation is the best time for jugaad (innovation) and building trust (vishwas) among the communities.


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