Hotels and the pandemic. Adapting to these new risks

The interest of hoteliers in preserving the health and safety of guests was always great, but now, it constitutes the ultimate priority.

Three months that felt like an eternity. Three months filled with worry, questions, and important decisions that required immediate action. Nonetheless, one constant remained: hospitality must stay true to its character, even on the next day. None of us knew what the future held but it was absolutely clear that it would need to preserve the principles of hospitality, just as they are written in our DNA: safety and services with personality, local authenticity and a Greek identity. Our country’s most powerful brand must remain powerful, retaining its essence and feeling, even if the new conditions seem to ask that it be more… sanitized.

The health and safety of guests and employees have always been important to hoteliers, but now, they constitute the top priority. Reinforced hygiene rules and a restructuring of the sanitation routine for rooms and common areas aren’t a choice, but a prerequisite, with Greek and international hotel brands developing new protocols that are here to stay. The pandemic which has struck, and continues to strike, our planet has brought us against new risks, both as industry professionals in hospitality and as possible guests. Risks which will be sure to concern us in the future. As a Group, we considered it to be of vital importance that we invest further in the field of health and safety, which is why we have participated in the creation of a comprehensive certified standard. 

We are adding a new managerial element to our units, that focuses on health and concerns the implementation of integrated policies and procedures to prevent and avoid the possibility of disease transmission, whilst also ensuring that effective and immediate medical care and basic primary health services are provided in case of emergency.

Though costly, this initiative is a matter of responsibility for the wellbeing of our visitors; taking this path is the only way to foster and maintain a relationship of trust with our guests. All our actions aim at ensuring that a “worry-free” experience is achieved whilst the purpose of the stay — be it business or leisure — is fulfilled.

It has always been crucial, and is now imperative, that we develop and dedicate resources to education, as we redefine its goals and the ways in which it’s performed. Today, the continuous training of hotel staff members, who are the most valuable assets of our units — all those individuals who are called to understand, implement and observe the new measures without burdening our guests or making them feel differently than before (wherever possible) — is more than just a necessity. In the new era that awaits, tourism professionals should be exactly that — professionals. With contemporary and systematic education, training, consistency, knowledge and love for the subject. There is a responsibility, both from businesses and from the state, to care for these professionals at this time; not to abandon them to insecurity and the objective reduction of their salaries. Every one of us must carry our fair share of this burden.

This year, the way in which we will handle the above — meaning both the health factor and the economic consequences that ensue — is a matter of survival and decisive importance. Nonetheless, this year we also have an opportunity, when favored by the circumstances, to discover and promote mainland Greece. The Greek and international visitors who we expect to receive may choose to discover the beauty of the mainland, and the result could be beneficial in more ways than one. The support and promotion of our mainland tourism products, whether or not they’re located by the sea, can act as the beginning of a new national strategy. Maintaining the continued upgrading and promotion of our established and developing island destinations, the increase in the options which we offer and their organized, systematic development and promotion, may offer nearly expense-free solutions for chronic issues that are important to us. With our land borders, but mainly our two large airports, the Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos and the Thessaloniki Airport “Makedonia” as our entry points, we can target markets and tourist seasons without being tied down by the restrictions of charter flights. In this way, we can take imminent action so as to achieve the much-awaited expansion of the tourist season. Meanwhile, we can increase our country’s capacity for tourism during peak seasons, just by taking advantage of existing infrastructures. The development of our seaside areas’ infrastructure is significant, after all, without sacrificing their natural beauty. From Chalkidiki to Pelion and from Syvota to Messinia, Greece is teeming with gorgeous destinations that deserve to be discovered; our country is ready to initiate its new-age travelers to its culture through unique storytelling. What’s more, the development of differentiated, character-filled tourism products all over the country leads to partnerships which can further reinforce our competitive position on the worldwide tourism map, which will benefit both our developing destinations and the ones already in the spotlight.

Greece will never stop being a beloved destination and, all together, we have a duty to continue to serve the strongest brand of our country with flexibility and responsibility, by adapting our functions and ensuring that we provide visitors with the authentic Greek experience. In this way, we will offer them their own, personal “pieces” of Greece, making them the “ambassadors” of our country in all places of the world.