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13 Jul 2020 World leisure: news, training & property
 
 
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27 May 2020

Webinar roundup: insights from hospitality and health tourism
BY Lisa Starr

Global tourism has come to a standstill following the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic and the consequent travel restrictions that have been enforced to limit the virus from spreading

Global tourism has come to a standstill following the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic and the consequent travel restrictions that have been enforced to limit the virus from spreading

With the hospitality and health tourism sectors being closely linked to spa and wellness, Lisa Starr hops onto three of the latest webinars and picks out the points which resonate with wellbeing operators.

International Luxury Hotel Association’s ‘Reopening and recovery of luxury hotels’
Moderator: Chelsey Leffet, SVP, HVS. Panellists: Prem Devadas, president, Salamander; RomyBhojwani, head of hospitality asset management, Brookfield; Jeff David, president, Fitler Club

Salamander’s Devadas said that four out of its five luxury hotels in the US are true drive
destinations, so that’s where it’s spending marketing dollars. It’s Florida location opened week
commencing 11 May and had already hit its reservation target of 50 per cent, based on distancing requirements.

Fitler Club’s David noted that it’s important to be able to mobilise teams quickly. “Your governor
may announce that you can reopen in a week, so you almost have to be on stand-by.” By now,
most businesses should have used the lockdown time to rexamine spending and restructure as
needed. Be frugal, flexible, persistent and offer limited options until operations are in full force
again.

When it comes to the spa, Devadas shared that Salamander’s services were typically booked
weeks in advance, which can’t happen now. The ability to book spa rooms will probably vary
based on hotel occupancy at the moment. It’s opening the spa at its Florida site one week later
than the resort, but demand is already high, and it’s already booked out for its capacity until the
end of May.

In terms of reopening costs, all panellists said those are not as high as initial opening
expenditures, partially helped by keeping some staff furloughed. However, a lot of resources are
being put into more and different types of training post-pandemic, such as safety issues. And at a luxury level, everything needs to be high quality and consistent – masks and their packaging for example. Bhojwani from Brookfields noted that customers will get used to contactless check-in and keyless entry, and will want it, which may create higher IT costs.

On the housekeeping side, Bhojwani believes much will change and that these services will no
longer be provided during a stayover (except upon request). A deeper clean will be required at
checkout instead but even after this, he sees a potential to save up to 35 per cent in labour costs.

He also sees a big opportunity to better control F&B costs by offering pre-ordered meals, selected in advance and delivered by table service, over buffets.

On probably the most impactful topic, all three said they did not foresee discounting of rates.
They will still be giving the ‘experience’ that guests expect, and there will be added costs of PPE.
Bhojwani added: “Our cost structure has gone up, but value has to be shown and the customer
will pay.”

Watch the full session here.

Cornell University’s ‘Hotel transactions in a post-COVID world’
Moderator: Crocker H Liu, Cornell professor of hospitality financial management. Panellists: Nolan Hecht of Square Mile; Seth Singerman of Singerman Real Estate; Arthur Adler of Adler Hotel Advisors; and Lanhee Yung of Starwood Capital

This group of investment managers held a focused discussion of the near-term outlook for the
buying and selling of hotel properties. Yung, of Starwood Capital, which owns 540 hotels, shared her optimism that hotel pricing will be back to pre-virus levels later this year, while at the other end of the spectrum, Singerman had a different viewpoint. Depending on the asset class, he thinks it will be four or five years until hotels are back to 2019 RevPAR, and five or six years until the cash flows return, although he hopes for better. Adler commented that the hotel industry has never seen anything like this, but is extremely resilient.

Square Mile’s Hecht believes that property pricing now will be 30-40 per cent off of 2019 value.
Singerman said pre-COVID valuations were elevated, and this will all reset, with a different
quality of return profile. Yung added that since the end of March, the US has lost 5.5 per cent of
GDP, and everyday businesses remain closed, another 10 basis points is lost, which annualises to about 40 per cent. “Buyers are looking at these discounts, and sellers are thinking 10-15 per cent, so there’s a wide-spread that needs to come together.”

Use this link to listen to the debate.

‘Health tourism in crisis: the road ahead’ by Stackpole & Associates and Health Tourism Worldwide
Speakers: Irving Stackpole of Stackpole & Associates; and Laszlo Puczko of Health Tourism Worldwide

Puczko from Health Tourism Worldwide shared his view of how the demand for health tourism
will evolve saying that approximately 80 per cent of what consumers are looking for is voluntary, such as relaxation and spirituality, and the remaining 20 per cent is prescribed or necessary, and includes medical therapy, rehabilitation, and potentially life-saving procedures.

Stackpole focused on the relationship between the provider and destination, saying that people
value the provider more when it comes to more challenging medical procedures. In addition,
people tend to travel more frequently for dental and cosmetic procedures than for orthopaedic
or cardiac. Stackpole also noted that in the time of reopening and recovery, destinations should
be seeking the early adopters of travel, not the typical senior health tourists, but adventurous
younger people.

The duo shared that consumers have a lot of time to do internet research right now, and they will be looking for procedures with data, evidence and reviews will be chosen. Puzcko adds if the
evidence you have is only in your local language, you can only promote your services
domestically. “Service providers and insurance companies need facts in a style and language they can understand.”

A discussion centred on the national health service in the UK, specifically forecasting longer wait
times for elective care in the coming months, creating a situation where more UK residents
would be motivated to look for alternative destinations. “Providers in ‘safer’ destinations have an opportunity” to attract such consumers but countries need to be able to provide actual, reliable data about infection control and success rates to lure international patients.

Watch the webinar here.



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