Crisis to opportunity


Food on the go: Hotels moved from dine-in to takeaway dining to keep their F&B offerings going amid the recent movement control order.

INNOVATIVE solutions are needed to help Malaysia’s hospitality and tourism sectors – one of the worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic – recover and revitalise.

From offering their food and beverage (F&B) menu to the public via online delivery platforms, to expanding their laundry and limousine services and beyond to their guests, creating alternative revenue streams will help the sectors maintain profitability in the years to come.

Besides these suggestions, UOW Malaysia KDU’s School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts Department head Cindy Loh and lecturer-cum-internship coordinator Suguna Migeemanathan have outlined several other proposals in a recent paper explaining how Malaysia’s hospitality and tourism industry can respond positively during the pandemic.

“A crisis is also an opportunity. The industry could use this time to build a solid and diversified portfolio to bounce back stronger in the near future, ” they said.

Apart from selling signature products such as beds, bedsheets, pillows and other items on e-commerce platforms, they suggested diversifying earnings and creating a stable cash flow by providing leisure guestrooms as serviced apartments.

Businesses can also come up with promotions for frontliners as a way of thanking them for their hard work. Such promotions could improve a hotel’s brand awareness and image.

Key among their suggestions was for hotels to observe how travel demand spiked in markets that were first impacted by Covid-19 such as China and South Korea.

In South Korea, Lotte Hotel’s drive-through concept has now been adopted by many other countries after the service received favourable reviews from many customers.

As a means to cut costs, hotels in China have started using shared employees – with more than 30 hotels participating in a plan to share workers with the logistics sector, which has enjoyed a boom since the pandemic broke.

Loh and Migeemanathan also noted that millennials are expected to be the first to begin travelling once restrictions are removed.

Hence, they suggested that focusing on this market segment in the initial stages will be crucial to the industry’s business recovery strategy.

Some well-established mainstream hospitality brands have even gone so far as to develop new hotel brands to attract millennials such as Canopy by Hilton, Moxy by Marriott and Element by Starwood, all of which focus on providing digital and social comforts for millennials.

Other than lowering prices, the duo also recommended that hotels implement a more flexible cancellation policy, at least for a few months, to maintain strong brand loyalty and enforce guest’s confidence.

Although online channels offer the most exposure to the public, Loh and Migeemanathan said that “the message is equally as important as the medium”.

As hotels begin to regain their footing, their focus should be to assure guests that they can provide a sanitary and safe environment for healthy travelling.

Publicity around health and travel safety is set to be the key factor in stimulating travel demand.

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