Paul Pisani, Senior Vice President Hotel Development and member of the founding and owning family of Corinthia Hotels, shares his thoughts on how the Covid19 crisis has affected hospitality in 2020 and his expectations for 2021 and beyond.
What is your prognosis for the hospitality industry in 2021 and beyond?
2020 has been a very challenging year for the hospitality industry. Our industry has suffered with occupancy levels at the lowest they have ever been and demand equally low. With the expectation of the vaccine becoming available in Q1 2021, I believe that we shall slowly see a return of hotel guest confidence to actually start to travel, stay in hotels etc. However, initially this will be slow and hotel numbers, while expected to show some recovery in the latter half of 2021, will still be a long way away from 2019 numbers.
What are the main lessons you have learnt from the Covid crisis, in terms of managing people and processes?
Most companies within our industry had to take drastic cost cutting measures in February and March 2020 to ensure their own survival through 2020 and beyond post recovery. With many hotel companies sadly having to shed large numbers of staff, both at corporate and operative levels, a lesson learnt is that in times of need, many employees are willing to find new talents and dig deep to ensure their own and their company’s survival. We have seen heroes emerge who have done whatever it takes, irrespective of job titles and job descriptions, to ensure their company’s survival.
How has COVID affected guest expectations and the hotel experience in the luxury sector?
While we have ensured that all our hotel guests feel comfortable and safe, definitely what we were able to provide with was a diluted Corinthia experience. However, I also believe that guest expectations have shifted in 2020 and most have been very accepting of all new safety protocols and reduced services. Of course, when it is safe and permitted to do so, we will be back with the full on Corinthia guest experience.
What are your wishes for 2021?
May 2021 bring with it a year of recovery: a coronavirus vaccine which will reduce levels of the sickness to manageable levels enabling the world economies to start to heal as well. I wish to see the return to some normality for our industry to bring us back on the path to 2019 numbers and most importantly I wish peace and prosperity to many people I know and love.
Corinthia Hotels is a Patron sponsor of the International Hospitality Investment Forum.