Interview with Svantje Claassen, Sales Manager at Kempinski Hotel Das Tirol, Austria – one of our RENT-A-RESORT COLLECTION partner hotels for privatisations. Currently we are unable to work closely together due to the Corona crisis – yet that will change again soon.
How was the crisis for you?
Since there are quite a few Kempinski Hotels worldwide and especially in Asia, we noticed the crisis internally very early. Nevertheless, the closure of the entire ski resort on 15th March 2020 came as a great surprise for us too. This was especially tragic for the guests who had booked their skiing holidays or various events with us until the end of March. Nevertheless, we were lucky as our house is one of the few in the Kitzbühel area that has a seasonal closing period, which usually lasts the whole of April. Therefore, the closing and the measures to be taken were relatively easy for us as in the years before. Especially important for us is the constant communication with our guests, who are very interested in our plans for the coming summer season and partly of course want to plan their upcoming winter.
What has changed and to what extent will it change the future of the hotel?
Of course basic attitudes and ideas change during a crisis like this one. Priorities shift and the safety of our guests is our top priority. The Kempinski Corporate Office in Geneva has already introduced a new “White Gloves” initiative which serves to bring the new situation closer to all worldwide hotels and the employees. For this reason, there will also be many training sessions in the future, so that our employees are well trained for the reopening.
In addition, the travel behaviour of guests is currently changing and we are expecting an increase in guests from the DACH region, but at the same time of course also a slight loss of international guests. Since the exact travel behaviour cannot yet be predicted with any degree of certainty, the hotels must be prepared to react quickly and flexibly to changes.
What are the plans for the reopening? Have you created a safety concept? What does it look like?
As soon as a date for the reopening has been set, we will start training our staff and also reinforce the necessary hygiene measures in the hotel. Our Director of IT & Engineering has already started to adapt our hotel to this; for example, we have recently installed special antibacterial telephones in every guest room.
In addition, as just mentioned, there is also the “White Gloves” initiative. This initiative includes, for example, the special way of dealing with guests in restaurants and in the breakfast area – of course we are also focusing on our guests and are increasingly offering breakfast as room service or à la carte. Upon arrival, guests can also indicate that they do not want hotel staff to enter their rooms and that the service should only take place in front of the room door. These are just two examples from our new security concept.
Will buyouts play a greater role in the future?
We currently assume that buyouts will indeed play a major role in the near future. In terms of security, the organiser has a much greater influence if the hotel is used by the group as a whole and there are no other guests in the hotel. Of course, we have to reconsider the number of people in buyouts, as safety distances have to be maintained in the banquet area as well as during breakfast and dinner. But here we will work more closely with the organisation teams and of course we will also take into account the requirements of the Austrian government.
Are there any other changes?
In general, there are a lot of changes in the hotel – especially in the back office area. The safety of our guests is very important to us and is currently the most important thing – but we should not neglect the well-being factor of a hotel visit in our category. So after our reopening we try to combine the safe feeling and the luxury of a 5 star hotel as good as possible.
We especially noticed once again how important good teamwork is in times like these. It is essential that everyone sticks together and supports each other – our team cohesion in the hotel has increased immensely in the last few months, so we can draw something positive from the crisis.
Thanks Svantje! We wish you all the best to get through the crisis and hope to work with you again soon!