Last week, HFTP held its first Spanish-language Hangout, with a focus on how hotels in Mexico have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was designed to be a discussion amongst colleagues, covering the major challenges of this period and what these hospitality professionals have done to adapt. The moderators leading the Zoom meeting were Ivan Alvarado, corporate IT director for AMResorts (firstname.lastname@example.org) and David Tonche, CHTP (email@example.com), IT director at the Waldorf Astoria, Los Cabos Pedregal. Both Ivan and David are HFTP chapter leaders in the growing Mexican HFTP network. David started HFTP’s first chapter in Mexico: HFTP Los Cabos; while Ivan serves as the president of the HFTP Cancun chapter, the second HFTP chapter in Mexico.
The meeting began with a presentation of the general impacts to the hotel industry, then outlined items of focus for their teams. David summarized this time quite well: “The only constant in this new epoch are all the changes.” The list of changes to organizations and their environment is long, but they are characterized with volatility and uncertainty, and have been complicated and ambiguous. These fast-coming changes have led to significant transformations in procedures and finances; leaving hotels with reduced budgets, while still having to follow through on high expectations.
Addressing the changes takes a long-term, strategic approach. This has not been the time to narrow a project focus and act quickly and superficially. Rather, it is best to consider the lasting impacts on your business.
With the change in tactic, hotels have had to optimize budgets to address current needs. This entails implementing processes and technology that make guests and employees remain safe and healthy in your hotel. This has required hoteliers to re-forecast and shift spending to support these modifications (sometimes taking funding from pre-pandemic projects). One recommended avenue for extending resources is to build strategic alliances for sharing tools, promotions and more.
The pandemic has brought a change in course for technology implementation, with contactless topping in popularity. Ivan listed several areas of technology that are crucial for supporting the property’s operations: strong Internet, with redundancy; cloud apps, with insurance of data security for employee and guest use; high-quality video output for guest-room entertainment; and thermal imaging cameras. The contactless technologies – whether this is a long-term necessity or not – is important for now so that guests can feel secure in your hotel. This includes online check-in, digital room keys, e-concierge and more. The moderators were sure to note that, while contactless check-in and more might work for most, there will be guests looking for personal check-in interaction. This was especially so for the attendees’ hotels, many of whom work at resort properties. Their guests would likely seek out more personal hospitality and interaction. While budgets are tight, the recommendation was optimization – managing the limited funds to develop what those resources would allow.
The discussion was switched up to personnel and the sustainability of telecommuting. Previous to the pandemic, the thought was that employees would not work efficiently at home. But now that many have been forced to work remotely, the opposite has been shown to be true. People end up working more, as they have access to their computer in their residences, and interact during on and off work hours. A question was raised: can this habit of higher productivity continue after the pandemic – once there are more outside distractions? It was agreed that likely it would continue to be a viable option and many businesses would at least offer a hybrid schedule, working in the office and at home.
After the presentation, several questions came in from participants, primarily asking what pandemic-specific technology and processes will remain viable. Ivan recommended that his team’s aim was to choose multi-functional technologies that would serve current and future needs. An example he used was the selection of thermal cameras that read a crowd’s temperatures, but also serve as general security cameras.
Ivan and David closed the session with a general appreciation for the camaraderie of the Mexican HFTP community and the value of sharing expertise with each other. They encouraged continued networking and offered participants to contact them personally via email if they had further questions.