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COVID-19 Hospitality
Written by Chanjin Yoon | Published. 2021.02.10 15:31 | Count : 827

Industries across the globe have turned to sanitation and prevention in the face of the insurmountable threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. Especially for the hospitality and service industry where contact is frequent, COVID-19 brings new challenges. At the beginning of the pandemic, the industry decided to hold out until the virus passed over. However, COVID-19 is here to stay, and industries began devising new products to match the situation. Mike Song, a manager at the Conrad Hotel Seoul, once said that as the COVID-19 pandemic continues sanitation has become the key factor in choosing hotels. Consequently, hotels have been rushing to get certified by GBAC STAR. GBAC STAR™ is the cleaning industry’s only outbreak prevention, response, and recovery accreditation for facilities run by ISSA (International Sanitary Supply Association). It became an integral strategy in reassuring potential visitors that they are in safe hands. While this is slowly becoming the norm, however, this is not enough to revitalize the hotel industry.

Hotels are more than just providers of bed and breakfast. Most of the major hotels earn most of their profits from MICE (meeting, incentive travels, convention, and exhibition). As the COVID-19 continues to plague the world, the cancelation of major and minor events and new social distancing restrictions governments are laying out has put hotels in a quandary. While a model solution to the problem has been exemplified by the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore with their virtual reality studio using their banquet venue to host online events, this solution cannot be adopted by all hotels across the globe as not every hotel is equipped with the necessary tools to do so. Finding a solution seems crucial for the hospitality industry’s survival during this time of crisis.

[Captured screenshot of the writer’s interview with Mr. Song, Associate director of sales
at Conrad Seoul. Photo courtesy of Kevin Kim]

According to Mike Song who has worked in both Mandarin Oriental and the Grand Hyatt in Hong Kong and currently works at the Conrad Hotel in South Korea, this is the biggest crisis that has struck the hospitality industry in his ten years of experience. In 2018-2019, hotels in Seoul have prospered. As the business hub in Asia, Korea had frequent interactions with overseas travelers. But with the emergence of the COVID-19, sales have plummeted as most hotels have seen a 50~60% decline in their sales. In the case of the Conrad hotel, reservations dropped nearly 70%.While restaurants have turned to delivery to maintain some of their revenue, the sales have still significantly decreased. “This is why B2B sales have become important,” Mr. Song told me. B2B sales (business to business sales) have become an essential part of Conrad’s revenue to maintain MICE, accounting for 50% of their sales. Furthermore, with the recent upsurge in stay-cation (a new term for having a vacation close to one’s home), room reservations have been on the rise.  Mr. Song focuses on maintaining Korean visitors rather than foreign visitors in an effort to maintain sales. This is why some hotels have come up with creative solutions such as petmily-cation where families can bring their pets to the hotel. Before the COVID-19, having pets in hotels was widely against hotel policies. However, now, hotels must find ways to maintain their plummeting sales. Despite all the effort, professionals in the hospitality field expect revenues to be reduced by 50% next year, assuming the COVID-19 crisis continues.

[Captured screenshot of the writer’s interview with Mr. Song, Associate director of sales
at Conrad Seoul. Photo courtesy of Kevin Kim]

The hospitality industry is struggling under the heavy blows dealt by COVID-19. On top of everything winter, the season when hotel visitors are at their lowest is approaching. However, I have faith in industry which has survived over 100 years of hardships in maintaining its importance. Hotels can and must develop new, creative solutions that only they can provide to turn the potential visitors into their doorsteps.






Chanjin Yoon
Grade 12
Bodwell High School

Chanjin Yoon  student_reporter@dherald.com

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