The role of hygiene in the post Covid-19 world cannot be underestimated viewers of the Hospitality Tomorrow event have been told.
Franck Gervais, chief executive for Accor in Europe, said rapidly changing guest expectations had propelled cleanliness to the top of the agenda.
“Hygiene is topic number one for guests at the moment – and what we have done is work on that from day one of the epidemic,” explained Gervais.
“Our guests need to be reassured in the rooms, lobby or spa that they are safe.
“We have worked to develop a protocol that can apply to the whole industry; we thought it was important to be generous to work together as an industry, not alone.
“If we share our expertise it allows for a wider reopening, which benefits us all.
“We have sought to build standards that are more than the minimum, and this will be important to rebuild trust.”
Accor operates 3,000 hotels across 40 countries in Europe.
The company has a wide focus, through the economy-level Ibis brand, up to Raffles and Fairmont in the luxury segment.
Gervais said, while only 20 per cent of hotels in Europe had been open in recent days, the tide had turned, and properties were beginning to come back to market.
“The trend has been reversing, and we are into the reopening phase,” he said.
Franck Gervais offered his thoughts during the Bench Events-organised Hospitality Tomorrow showcase
As guests return, their expectations will change, and Accor has had to adapt, Gervais continued.
“There will be rules that apply to every brand across our portfolio, and we have convictions around the new customer expectations.
“Cleanliness will be more important, but people will also be afraid of crowds, and we will have to reassure them.
“There will also be a refocusing on digital, and this will be everywhere,” he added.
“In the luxury or lifestyle sectors, the expectations are different for the customer – more refinement will be needed.
“This means we can use digital tools, to make the customer journey as easy as possible.”
Listening will be key to meeting these expectations, Gervais concluded.
“We need to listen to the customer, there are a lot of suggestions on what the new customer will want, but we are not sure yet.
“Over the coming weeks and months, as we open the hotels quickly, we must pay attention to the new expectations among customers, and how this varies between our brands.”
Powered by Bench Events, Hospitality Tomorrow was launched to support the hard-hit international hotel community during Covid-19, by offering a virtual conference platform that provides knowledge, facilitates information sharing and connects the industry.