The Canadian Business Council (CBC) Abu Dhabi organized a webinar on the outlook of the hospitality sector post-covid in collaboration with Fairmont Bab Al Bahr Abu Dhabi. The webinar took place on Wednesday, 15th of July 2020 with Mr. Elias Chakhtoura, the General Manager of the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr Abu Dhabi. Mr. Chaktoura was invited as the guest speaker to talk about the state of the hotel business and hospitality industry in response to the COVID-19 epidemic. Mr. Awais Chughtai, the Relationship Manager in CBC Abu Dhabi welcomed the participants, thanked CBC Abu Dhabi’s partnering councils, and introduced the guest speaker.
At the beginning of the webinar the guest speaker, Mr. Chakhtoura
has mentioned about the trends regarding hotel booking from February till June. According to him, they started to receive international booking cancellations by February and domestic cancellations by March. Those trends affected their business significantly since it was the time of the high season for the tourism industry. Things got worse when Corona cases existed in few hotels, which led some to temporary shut-down. However, with the support of Culture and Tourism Department and the health authority guidance helped their business to deal and cope with such a crisis. Some of the major changes in their industry was testing the employee for COVID-19 every two weeks while taking strict hygiene measures. In April, the business state was a little better since some groups such as workers were staying in hotels because of travel restrictions. By June, domestic tourism revived a little with the ease of visiting and lockdown restrictions. Currently, hotel resorts with beaches are profiting more than city hotel and he expects that their business will at least survive the next three months but not beyond that. Also, according to the Mckinsey survey, 49 percent of people are still anxious to travel whereas 43 percent are anxious to stay in hotels, which increase the health and safety measures in hotels. Another major trend is last-minute bookings since a lot of people are uncertain about their traveling plans. Besides, most people prefer hotels with outdoor activities since it feels safer than indoors crowded places.
Mr. Chaktoura continued that due to coronavirus, different initiatives and procedures are being applied in the hospitality industry. Some of the initiatives are ALLSAFE program and virtual medical assistance for visitors and employees. Moreover, main procedures such as wearing a mask, self-service parking, limited restaurant capacity, contactless payment, social distancing, temperature checking, and rapped blankets are few essential practices they integrated into the business. More importantly, Mr. Chakhtoura believes that the hospitality industry is resilient and will survive this epidemic since people cannot lock themselves for too long and will need to socialize and overindulge at some point. And once situations become more safe and stable people often will travel and attend social events. Finally, some main qualities about the business to attract and satisfy the visitors are increased booking flexibility, safety, good price, and adjustment based on customers' expectations. Mr. Chughtai shared his experience as a customer in one of the hotels and how it felt unusual yet assuring.
The webinar was concluded with live Q&A from the participants.
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About the Canadian Business Council Abu Dhabi
The Canadian Business Council Abu Dhabi (CBC) promotes business relations, commerce and investment between Canada and the UAE with a particular focus on the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. We provide opportunities for Canadian business executives in the UAE to meet on a regular basis and to exchange information about business opportunities. As a link with organizations in Canada, CBC Abu Dhabi is dedicated to the development of trade and corporate investment between Canada and the UAE and assist Canadian companies and business people who are establishing or contemplating to establish a trading base in this country. www.cbcabudhabi.com
About Fairmont Bab Al Bahr
The hotel features 369 contemporary and spacious guestrooms and suites, Fairmont Gold, highlighted by one of the largest lounges in the city against a staggering backdrop of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, world class on-site amenities, including private sandy beaches, an Olympic-length swimming pool, and state-of-the-art conference facilities. Additionally, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr boasts an impressive portfolio of 10 award-winning dining outlets, ranging from casual poolside dining to world-class gourmet fare. https://www.fairmont.com/abu-dhabi
Maryam Almansoori, Intern, CBC Abu Dhabi