Kenyan hotels adapt to survive COVID-19
As visitors return, Kenya’s coronavirus-battered hotel operators have been forced to adapt quickly to survive, adjust the nature of service, and stay in line with their ultimate service of accommodating guests.
Lonely beaches and boats that were once busy are now anchored at the country, all showing that the hospitality and hotel industry in the country is yet to fully recover from the wrath of COVID-19.
Fortunately, some operators are dusting up from a rough path and are getting set for hopefully a promising season of returns.
For luxury exclusive resort Planhotel Hospitality group in Kilifi county, resumption is the way forward. Its outside compound is being cleared, while rooms inside the hotel are being deeply cleaned, expecting to welcome international and local tourists.
Additionally, capitalizing on other services like offering conference rooms and customizing to a client’s need is now an essential for survival, and promotes flexibility in the hotel industry operations.
“The hotels are coming up with good packages and going back to the good clientele that they have always had especially when it comes to the traditional market, but one of the issues we are facing now is the issue of vaccination and we’ve seen quite a number of international clients have been vaccinated and they are actually able to travel and their countries have allowed them to travel, so this is a little bit helping us. When it comes to domestic market a lot of guys with good name in the market have been able to remain open and that’s what the local clientele are looking for,” said Mohammed Hersi, chairman ofKenya Tourism Federation.
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Industrial insiders add that strategic innovation and creativity are now essential for hotel business survival and management, but price wars are becoming hurdles for the recovery.
“It doesn’t make sense to come down so low on the rates where you are all raking even, because then you will end up having a further problem later down the road where your product is gonna start to collapse. If there are price wars in the market, it doesn’t benefit anybody within the industry,” said Alexander Zissimatos, general manager of Planhotel.
To mitigate the negative impact brought by price wars, the hotel is now engaging in cutting costs by having its own private garden. Hotel employees grow different types of vegetables to keep the supply of fresh vegetables consistent to the hotel due to the disruptions.
“Even when the pandemic really hit, when we had to close the businesses like many companies, as soon as we had the chance to re-open, we reopened and that’s just about drive and determination and to continue. Some of the other hotels have struggled a lot but closing for a very long period of time and not reopening and having zero cash flow in your books makes it really impossible to reopen especially for the smaller businesses. I mean the situation is a bit volatile at the moment because as one country opens up another one closes. You are put on the red list you are put on the green list, there’s a lot of aspects we can find that you are just getting to get some businesses, and something happens and closes again,” said Zissimatos.