A sustained recovery in China should buoy confidence in the global hospitality market, delegates at AHIC on the Road have been told.
Kenneth Macpherson, chief executive in Europe, Middle East, Asia and Africa for InterContinental Hotels Group, said a renewed sense of optimism had return to the country and that this could spread globally.
“The situation in China is one that should give all of us optimism for the future of our industry,” he said, “looking at the data, we are back to 60 per cent occupancy across the country.
“All of our hotels are fully open, and there has also been a return to an optimistic way off life, as well as leisure travel.”
He added: “The Chinese authorities did get the virus under control, and this has allowed them to get back to a focus on economic growth.
“This shows, in the long-term, the hospitality market can find a way to move past the current pressures.”
Macpherson, however, argued other markets were still taking their first steps on the road to recovery, with the situation still hinging on the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Markets are at very different stages of recovery, based on government reactions to the virus - where cases fall, leisure travel returns and is then followed by business travel.
“Where there is concern about caseloads growing, there is more difficulty for hospitality to come back, there can be no doubt about that.
“There is a trade-off between public health and the economy - though India provides and interesting example, where caseloads are high, but there has been a focus on the economy, allowing for a recovery.”
Macpherson, left, spoke to AHIC moderator Nick van Marken earlier
In a wide-ranging interview with Nick van Marken, Macpherson explained InterContinental Hotels Group was working with owners to overcome the current challenges.
“Owners face enormous challenges, ranging from zero business to even very low-levels of business,” he continued.
“But when we open the hotels, we need to be clear about confidence to book and confidence to stay – through changing our cancellation policies, and the new cleaning systems we have put in place.
“We are mindful of the experience guests have; people are paying to stay in branded hotels, and this comes with expectations.”
He added: “The consumer has every right to expect a hotel to undertake its primary purpose of caring for a guest - and all of us at InterContinental Hotels Group have taken that very seriously.
“We have rolled out Way of Clean, and this applies in every hotel worldwide.
“Our scale gives us an advantage as we embed the standards around the world, as well as checking and monitoring those standards to see if we are achieving what we set out to do.
“This shows our commitment, it is not a marketing campaign to encourage guests to book, it is not ‘cleaning theatre,’ it is a serious system to improve hygiene.
“In this climate, one negative review is going to have a serious impact on confidence to travel.”
Ending on optimistic note, Macpherson said the long-term future of hospitality remained bright.
“We deeply believe in the long-term of the business, and our reputation will be vital to its long-term success.
“Our owners are vital to our long-term success, and we will support them wherever we can.
“If we can retain our pristine reputation, in the long-term, as revenue comes back, this creates a positive environment for us.”