Discussions Must Continue As Europe Moves to Reopen Travel, Tourism and Hospitality – By Carl Weldon

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Discussions Must Continue As Europe Moves to Reopen Travel, Tourism and Hospitality – By Carl Weldon

Three months into its shutdown, some countries in Europe are now turning their sights on reopening travel, tourism and hospitality sectors in time for the summer holidays – though, perhaps the focus will remain on local tourism to start. This is a crucial move, as it is estimated that tourism contributes nearly 10 percent to the European Union’s gross domestic product (GDP), which has taken a substantial hit as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, subsequent global travel bans and strict social distancing measures.

Nearly one week ago, the European Commission released a series of guidelines to navigate the reopening process, lift restrictions in phases and initiate economic recovery. Many countries, however, are creating their own rules and regulations. At the same time, there is a disconnect between countries, and even regions, with different approaches to easing lock-down restriction — such as in the United Kingdom where Wales, Scotland and Ireland have a different approach to England.

While global travel bans remain largely in place, the EU has been contemplating “travel bubbles,” or travel directly between European countries reporting low infection rates. Whether or not the EU is in a position to make these decisions and enforce them is another matter.

The balance between health and economic recovery remains tricky and tenuous, and the situation changes every day as the world makes gradual moves to open restaurants, bars, shops and borders. Many considerations must be made before people can travel safely regarding the capacities for local health care systems, testing and contact tracing. Also, practices must be put in place at the properties where travelers congregate. These might include social distancing measures, access to proper sanitation, facial coverings and health checks. Then, there is the question: what does the customer want and expect?

Hospitality needs input for consideration in these constantly changing circumstances. This input needs to be easily accessible, digestible — and debatable.

HFTP Europe Hangouts were designed with this in mind: to bring together hospitality professionals, experts and leaders on the topics of current and  utmost importance to the industry today. These topics are the ones that impact its economic recovery and reopening, as well as the health and safety of guests and employees alike, and how to strike the best balance between the two. The emanating discussions are critical as the industry collectively moves toward an uncertain journey towards the future.

The first HFTP Europe Hangout was presented by Michael Levie, CHTP, the COO of the international hotel company CitizenM who shared his business’s early response to the Covid-19 pandemic and advice on how to move forward. Read all about this session in this blog post, “First HFTP Europe Hangout Discussed Hotel Pandemic Response on Global Scale.”

The next Europe-focused Hangout gave several considerations to aid hotels in their re-opening plans and how this is different ‘just a new hotel opening’. Review these key takeaways in the blog post, “Considerations for Hotel Profitability Trends, Re-opening and Work from Home.”

Most recently, the latest Europe Hangout continued the conversation surrounding 5G networks, the enablement of touchless technologies and the related challenges with rising to meet the new guest expectations for health and wellness. These challenges are outlined in the blog post, “Navigating Crises and the Tech It Will Take to Overcome Covid-19.” This discussion will lead towards more topics such as use of voice recognition, facial recognition and artificial intelligence applications in hospitality.

HFTP Europe Hangouts have been scheduled for the remainder of May and into June. Read more about these sessions below and register online to attend.

Hospitality CFO Challenges in Europe: For a Crisis and Beyond
Wednesday, May 20 • 3:00 pm UK | 4:00 pm CET | 9:00 am US CST

Attend this session to discuss current challenges such as cash burn, managing stakeholders and forecasting the next 18 months. Take advantage of this time to challenge the norm before businesses re-open and more.

Risk Mapping the Hotel Guest Experience: An Important Step Toward the Post-Covid World
Wednesday, May 27 • 3:00 pm UK | 4:00 pm CET | 9:00 am US CST

Risk mapping is a foundational step in assessing risk, particularly when the objective is to mitigate the spread of infectious disease (e.g. Covid-19). In this conversation, we will explore how to leverage the lessons learned from guest journey mapping for data security and privacy compliance to efficiently do the work that must be done.

Other topics lined up for discussion in the subsequent weeks include:

  • Re-Negotiating Technology Contracts (especially SaaS and SLAs in the current environment)
  • Cash Alternatives: Hygienic Payments Including Contactless/ Touchless
  • Five Bets for the Next Five Years: Technology Transformation in the Restaurant and Hotel Businesses

Join the discussions taking place live on Zoom for the virtual opportunity to brainstorm, network, ask questions, air concerns and share solutions, resources and best practices. Be sure to bring your questions to each interactive meeting. All HFTP members, stakeholders and hospitality professionals are invited to attend.

You can read key takeaways from all of the HFTP Hangouts that have taken place thus far on HFTP Connect.

Carl Weldon is the COO of Europe for HFTP. Contact Carl at Carl.Weldon@hftp.org or +1 (512) 220-4164.