João Pinto Coelho
Contrary to widespread industry expectations, cross-border travel has not resumed with a vengeance, due to unexpected restrictions at the start of summer 2021. But as destinations such as the UK continue to stay the course in reopening their economy, there is still cautious optimism that other destinations will follow suit and a vast majority of consumers will use the autumn of 2021 to travel.
In this month’s Hotelier Spotlight Interview, we caught up with João Pinto Coelho, Director of Sales & Commercial at Onyria Hotels & Resorts Group to find out what he expects for the hotel industry in the second half of 2021, and how his business has adapted to continuous market changes.
While summer 2021 has certainly been an improvement from 2020, it’s still not quite at the levels we need it to be.
What is your expectation for financial recovery to pre-pandemic levels?
Since March 2020, our business forecasts (which we moved from annually, to monthly, and now weekly) have not been met. Back in summer 2020, we expected that by the same time this year, we would be much closer to full occupancy levels across our 200 rooms and 40 villas at Onyria Resorts. But due to disruptions at the beginning of the season, there is a significant gap between our forecasts and reality.
Looking back, I think we had a strong expectation that the vaccine would save the day and enable travel to resume with a vengeance in summer 2021. But hotels are still at the mercy of other factors such as government restrictions, flight capacity, and of course, consumer confidence. While summer 2021 has certainly been an improvement from 2020, it’s still not quite at the levels we need it to be.
I think overall the industry has adjusted expectations because there is a certain degree of fatigue and frustration with missing forecasts. As hoteliers, we are now approaching the future with cautious optimism.
How have the new variants impacted consumer confidence and business operations across Onyria Resorts?
The continuous change of rules and restrictions significantly impact communication with our customers. One week we are reassuring certain markets that our destination is safe, but two weeks later we are declared unsafe by their governments, which results in a wave of cancellations.
I think the disruption is not so much due to the variants themselves, but rather the communication around them by local governments. The result is that our reservations team is talking less about the rooms and products we offer, and answering more questions about safety and requirements to access our hotel and activities in destinations where we operate.
Overall, we still have a significant level of consumer demand and interest. We respond with flexible rates and policies to convert demand into bookings, but ultimately what we have on the books is still not secure in terms of revenue.