If you have noticed that lately, your favourite hotels seem to be a bit different, you are not alone.
A lot of nice hotels seem to have lost their touch. Things like unkempt rooms, delay in-room service, rigidness or inability of staff to handle issues, lack of elite benefits (unless asked for), etc., are now the norm at most properties.
You must have guessed by now, and you are right, it’s connected to the Covid19 pandemic. However, not in a way we expected.
Initial days of Covid
I had the opportunity to sit down with a senior person (who wants to remain anonymous) from the management of one of the luxurious hotel brands in South-East Asia.
We all know that the pandemic has resulted in huge losses for the hospitality industry.
However, what we don’t realise is that the decline in service levels is due to the rebound of the industry.
As per the gentleman, initially, when hotels realised that Covid is here to stay, they were faced with two choices - shut down the property or layoff several people and minimize expenses.
This decision is not the brands like IHG or Marriott to handle, but the local owner of the hotel. The owner of the individual property is the one most affected by the profits coming from a property. At the same time, they are also bound by terms of the brand they are associated with.
Several brands relaxed these norms and allowed the hotel owners to reduce the staff below the levels required by the brand. There were others who decided to shut down instead.
Some brands didn’t allow the staff to be reduced to lower than what would affect the service level. There are rumours that Hyatt was the one to refuse.
In that case, owners either shut the property down or realigned their property with some other brand.
And then everyone was vaccinated…
The real problem started when people were vaccinated and suddenly everyone wanted to travel.
It was probably the best news hotels have heard in more than a year.
But it came with its own set of problems. Most hotels were inadequately staffed. There were just not enough people to serve all the guests.
So a few months after the layoffs spree, hotels went into a hiring spree. Sadly there were just not enough trained people available and there was not enough time to train people.
So hotels just hired whoever they could. And that shows.
In some cases, as much as 80% of staff at a hotel is new to the property, new to the brand and, a good percentage of them, new to the hospitality industry.
They just don’t understand the importance of service, politeness, ability to handle issues etc. And it’s not their fault. They haven’t been trained yet.
Compared to what we all have gone through during the pandemic, this is just a very minor inconvenience. However, it is good to know why.
So next time you are at your favourite property and don’t like their service, think about why you are seeing so many unfamiliar faces. Think about people who are still trying to get hang of their new job profiles.
Hopefully, in a year or so, this won’t be an issue.