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Caribbean hotels may have to scrap conveniences such as buffets and drinks stations in order to attract post-Covid-19 guests, suggest two hospitality experts.
Instead, they will have to find creative ways to attend to customers, like serving dinner in secluded areas on the beach, say Emile Gourieux and Rico Louw, senior managers at STR, a Tennessee, USA-based firm that tracks supply and demand data for the global hotel industry.
Reduced seating capacity at à la carte restaurants might also be on the menu, they add.
“We may never return to travel as normal, as we understood it before.
“Things like buffet breakfast may never be seen again.
“So, there’s a lot of things that we need to rethink,” said Gourieux, STR hotel sector business development executive in Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.
“At least at the very beginning of recovery when people are coming back, people are going to be very leery about close contact.
“So, the hotels that succeed and thrive are going to be the ones that find a way to address that anxiety.
“So more in-room dining option for families, a lot of all-inclusives have different dining options where you have the buffet, that’s going to be tough.
“Even at à la carte, they’re going to have to cut capacity by half to allow that social distancing.
“So, where hotels can add value in comfort and confidence that’s going to be a plus.
“Offering a special dinner on a beach where you secluded and comfortable, that’s going to be a plus.”
Gourieux and Louw are guests on the latest episode of a podcast series produced by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, entitled, ‘COVID-19: The Unwanted Visitor’.
Here experts address what the Caribbean hospitality sector could look like in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis which has brought tourism to a virtual standstill.
The podcast is available on several platforms, including Anchor and Spotify, as well on the Caribbean Tourism Organisation Facebook page.
Both senior managers emphasise the enormity of the challenge ahead for the region’s hospitality sector, which recorded occupancy of under six per cent during the week of April 12th, and a fall in revenue of over 80 per cent.
The STR experts say the global pandemic will have a serious impact on people’s pockets and the confidence to travel.
“Anytime somebody sneezes or coughs on a plane or in a restaurant, or anywhere near you, everyone is going to get a little nervous,” added Gourieux