We all hope and expect that leisure travel will return in a significant way sooner than later, but then again we all hoped and expected that would happen months ago too. Many regions and hotels saw a significant spike last summer and early fall only to see things slow back down to a crawl as a result of a second wave of the Coronavirus.
The harsh reality here is that as a hotelier or hotel company you can’t afford to wait; you have to take matters into your own hands. We often hear about thinking out of the box, perhaps one of the most overused cliches, but it’s never been more relevant. There are guests out there that want to travel, and plenty of them in fact, but they have very real fears of cancellations and the possibility of getting sick while they’re away and what that could mean.
Baha Mar in the Bahamas is one hotel that is indeed thinking out of the box and looking to take that fear away with a creative promotion it refers to as its Travel With Confidence program. The upscale resort destination is offering guests private jet service back to the U.S. or a complimentary 14-day stay if they test positive for COVID-19 prior to departing. If they opt for the 14-day stay, guests will be provided courtesy suite accommodations and a daily dining credit of up to $150 per day.
This kind of solution seems like a win/win for everyone involved. Of course, it’s a risk on the part of the resort, but given the current infection rates and stringent safety protocols implemented at the property it’s highly unlikely that more than an occasional guest will contract the virus. Is it worth it for the hotel to invest that kind of money for the unfortunate guests who happen to get the virus? You bet it is when you consider how many other guests may now decide to visit the resort because they have peace of mind.
The promotion at Baha Mar, which was announced yesterday, strikes me as one of the better examples, but it’s certainly not the only example of creativity. The Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts Group is going the extra mile for international travelers staying at its Singapore locations. The luxury hotel chain is offering guests up to $190,000 in free medical coverage should they test positive for the virus during their stay. The complimentary COVID-19 insurance is underwritten by AIG.
Of course, you can argue these companies are taking a calculated risk with these aforementioned promotions. If there was a large outbreak at their respective properties, for example, the cost would be astronomical to the hotel and potentially devastating. But is it not just as devastating having close to single-digit occupancy levels for months at a time? The bottom line is that hoteliers need to be proactive and help make the recovery happen.