Over the past year, we’ve seen a huge shift in travel and hospitality that has altered consumer behaviours and forced hoteliers to relook at their business models. The pandemic has not only shifted travellers’ expectations, it has fundamentally changed human attitudes and behaviours at a speed we’ve never seen before – and all organisations, including ours, have had to adapt and respond.
Like all hospitality companies, we’ve had to close hotels, look after our guests and take care of our associates. As I look at the world today, it’s harder to travel than ever before. Something we could never have imagined. But looking ahead, we are confident travel will return. You only need to speak to friends or family to know there is a huge pent up demand for travel. This, combined with the vaccine roll out, gives us great optimism that travel will bounce back quickly.
Despite what the world throws at us, the joy we all feel from exploring breath-taking destinations, experiencing new cultures or simply travelling to meet our loved ones will never diminish. Greece is one of the world’s leading tourism markets – a highly sought-after destination for global leisure travellers – and we are optimistic that leisure travel will quickly return.
At Marriott, we have some of the best resort hotels in the world, including a robust portfolio of more than 20 hotels in the Greek market. These properties include some of the country’s most desirable resorts including The Blue Palace, a Luxury Collection Resort in Crete; Domes Miramare, a Luxury Collection Resort in Corfu; The Westin and Luxury Collection Resorts at Costa Navarino, and the exciting new Aegon Mykonos, an Autograph Collection hotel.
We see great opportunity to expand our portfolio in the Greek market, especially through our conversion brands such as The Luxury Collection, Autograph Collection, Design Hotels and Tribute Portfolio. These brands allow smaller, unique hotels to keep their own identity and personality while pulling into our powerful distribution, sales and loyalty platforms. We have no doubt that there are many independent hoteliers who could benefit from this in the post-pandemic business environment.
We also envisage more demand for our home rentals platform – Homes & Villas by Marriott International – in the Greek market. We know our customers are looking for places that cater for multi-generational travel, yet, also provide rest and relaxation. As a company, we’ve continued to grow our Homes & Villas by Marriott International brand and it now lists more than 20,000 homes in 240 destinations across the globe.
We’ve seen demand spike for premium private rentals, where consumers are reassured in the knowledge that the homes they book will have exacting standards and rigorous cleaning regimes. Plus, our Marriott Bonvoy members can still earn and redeem points across the Homes & Villas by Marriott International portfolio, which is great news for the 147 million members of our loyalty programme.
As well as expanding our portfolio, we are also preparing to adapt to how customers use our hotels. Several companies have made bold declarations about the future of work, giving their teams more flexibility over where and how they work. We believe that this freedom will lead to the further blurring of work and social lives. And while office life certainly won’t die out, it will become more acceptable to allow people to work from anywhere. The hotel industry will have to rethink how it can accommodate the leisure and business traveller as one. Consumers will expect high-speed Wi-Fi in their room, creative spaces to think and work, and family services and activities that can keep the children busy. This is where our latest initiative from Marriott Bonvoy – allowing people to work from anywhere with our Day Pass, Play Pass and Stay Pass which gives our members the freedom to escape, and work, stay or play anywhere.
Finally, as we look forward, all consumers will continue to have a heightened awareness of hygiene. Enhanced Cleanliness will remain fundamental to the hotel experience, and it will be an expected requirement, rather than added value. At Marriott, our hotels have embraced our new cleanliness protocols, understanding their importance, and have worked tirelessly to deliver against Marriott’s exacting standards.
I strongly believe that the desire to travel and explore the globe will never dissipate and markets like Greece will benefit from the swift return of the leisure travellers. There is no doubt that the hotel industry will have to adapt but, if we are successful in doing that, then the travel and hospitality industry will swiftly rise once again.
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