As we turn the page on 2020, we shine our Spotlight on Hoteliers to understand how the economic downturn continues to impact the industry and what’s on the horizon for 2021. In this month’s Hotelier Spotlight Interview, we catch up with Daniela Hupfeld, Commercial Director at Pierre & Vacances España and Member of Revenue Management Advisory Board at HSMA Deutschland.
Like the unexpected strike of the crisis, the upturn will also hit us fast and at the last minute. If we are not ready when that time comes, we will lose out again.
What is the status of yours and other hotels in your region today? What are your biggest concerns?
Many of our hotels in Spain are seasonal, and we shut down most of them at the end of October each year anyway. But what happened in 2020 is that we closed many of our hotels earlier, and are now only planning to open them later. Therefore, the properties that we usually keep open over the winter, for example in Benidorm where we have guests who retire there during this season from Northern Europe, remain closed.
Although the vaccine is good news, this is more in the context of everyone’s health. But realistically, it will take some time before the vaccination program is fully rolled out throughout the globe and it is deemed fully safe to travel again. Then we need to get airplanes back up and running because many of our properties are located on the islands and only accessible by airplane.
Another challenge has been to keep our teams motivated during this time. We do our best to keep positive however, using this downtime to get ready. Because like the unexpected strike of the crisis, the upturn will also hit us fast and at the last minute. If we are not ready when that time comes, we will lose out again. That is the worst thing that can happen to any hotel: Having the opportunity, but not being in the position to make use of it.
We’re seeing a sharp increase in Hoteliers expecting to financially recover in 2023. Would you say this expectation is the same in your region? Is there something that could happen in the new year to change that timeline?
It obviously depends a lot on whether you’re an independent, smaller hotel or part of a larger chain of group of hotels. Where you are sitting will strongly influence the timeline of recovery back to 2019 levels.
I personally think city center hotels will face a greater challenge than leisure hotels in remote locations, because people are still looking to go away on a break from overcrowded cities and can somehow afford it. It is my expectation that leisure hotels will probably bounce back sooner than the city center hotels.
This is also due to the widespread uptake of technology across corporate businesses. More people are working from home. Meetings of 15 to 25 people can be done via Zoom or Google Meet video conference rather than face-to-face. As soon as it’s safe, I can see groups business and bigger meetings coming back. Mostly because most businesses find this a bit more difficult to do online.
To return to 2019 levels, it will take us two to three years for sure. Then there is always the question of how you recover that returning demand. I think there we will see some hotels doing really well and recovering earlier, because they managed to convert that demand at the right time.
Others will lose out simply because they have not been ready, or they have been a bit late with implementing a new measure, or they simply panicked and slashed prices far too early and ended up with a lot of low-rate business which may not have been necessary at that point.