Adaptive Approach to Face Rebound Tourism
The COVID-19 pandemic struck the hotel occupancy levels of Oman hard until the Government announced resuming of the international flights in October 2020. Although, with a recovery plan in place by the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism, the recent surge in COVID-19 cases once again hampers the almost lifted spirits of the hoteliers in Oman and the prospects of tourism rebounding this year looks desolate.
Going forward, for 2021, hoteliers expect visitors primarily from the GCC. But with uncertainty looming in terms of regular business, most hotels including the luxury segment in Oman are working on a ‘come back’ marketing strategy. For this year it includes promoting staycations for the residents, better deals for GCC residents and offers that promote the facilities at the property. This has helped few hotel see their occupancy levels reach about 50% of the regulated occupancy permitted by the government.
Despite this, most hoteliers are confident that as normalcy returns, Oman shall be one of the key travel destinations opted by the tourists. Recently the Muscat International Airport received 4 star rating by Skytrax in implementing health and safety measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the airport environment. The hotels in Oman too are aware of how safety and cleanliness are most important criteria to compete.
A brief survey among the hotel guests in Muscat outlines the key parameters considered when selecting hotels.
It is imperative for the industry to adapt to the ‘new norm’ and present the way hotels attract guests.
Use this low period for maintenance and makeover
This is a perfect time to work on the pending improvement plans and ensuring the property has all safety features expected by the post COVID-19 pandemic travelers.
Adapt to remote technologies
Ensure that your business is as contactless as possible. This includes services like booking reservations, guest check-in & check out, room assignment, meal orders, ordering SPA and other services, billing & payment & other. This could be possible with hotel property management system apps.
Update the health and safety techniques and communicate the same with travellers
With contactless technologies in place, ensure that the property follows the health and safety policies to the letter. This includes having sanitation stations in place, avoiding work place gatherings by staff, routine disinfestation of common areas and guest room.
Attract tourists and guests with transparency on COVID-19 measures
The first surge of visitors, after the pandemic related restrictions are relaxed, shall be the ones that would want to take advantage of the enticing offers by the hotels. They would also be the ones that will promote the businesses for the hotels through their social media handles. It is therefore vital to communicate clearly on the steps taken and protocols in terms of cleanliness, social distancing & other measures to motivate them to select your hotel.
Promote conveniences at the property
Convenience has always been one of the key parameters of the guests when selecting a hotel. The new wave of travellers will prioritise cleanliness, comfort and convenience as soon as tourism rebounds after the pandemic. The accommodations at the property can allow the guests to stick around and feel safe with fewer touch points when travelling.
Be part of the mandatory institutional health isolation program
As mandated by the Supreme Committee on COVID-19, all passengers arriving in Oman are to undergo institutional quarantine for a period of minimum seven nights. The hotel could work with the travel agents to offer quarantine package for the visitors and locals arriving by road or air. This could include cost of transport to the hotel, discounted lumpsum tariff, meals, availing connecting rooms to families travelling together, laundry services, work stations in the rooms for visitors traveling for work, etc.