Go to Homepage
An exclusive collection of the best Asian hotels, resorts and spas

Winners of 2023 Smart Travel Asia 20th Anniversary Best in Travel Poll


Cut service, kill the hotel brand


Does Covid Interruptus herald the end of quality as we know it with new hotel managers cutting back on service to increase revenue margins? A senior hotelier pens his thoughts on protecting the travel experience. Other industry leaders talked with Smart Travel Asia earlier on the future of hotel brands in Covid times.

Visit our Facebook pagePrintE-mail Page

by Gregory Meadows

Veteran hotelier Gregory Meadows believes hotels should not cut service post Covid-19

Veteran hotelier Gregory Meadows outside Caux Palace Hotel, Montreaux/ photo: Meadows

MUCH has recently been said and written about the “new normal” post Covid and when it comes to the hospitality industry, my view has always been optimistic. I have scoffed at presentations made at various gatherings and online, foretelling the end of all sorts of services we took for granted, including fine dining – if all the so-called gurus are to be believed, this will become a quaint thing of the past.

I recently joked with colleagues that signboards in hotel lobbies would soon be saying, “In order to serve you better and with your health and wellbeing in mind we no longer encourage interactions between our team members (the few that are left) and you, our valued guests.”

Imagine then my amazement when I read that the CEO of one of the world’s largest hotel brands warned that hotel service cuts will become permanent. He went on to say that, “When we get out of the crisis, our businesses will be higher margin and require less labour than they did pre-Covid”. I told you so, and what I personally think of this statement is unprintable!

I am particularly concerned by the signals this message sends out to those currently attempting to hold their hotels together in these difficult times. Their gallant efforts are unlikely to be recognised by such industry leaders. And what about those studying at hotel schools throughout the world who have chosen to make their careers in this wonderful world of hospitality?

I wholly reject the premise of the new normal as described by this CEO and other industry stalwarts. That Covid should be used as the excuse to increase margins permanently is reprehensible. The industry deserves better and it can and must BUILD BACK BETTER, not worse.

Of course the pandemic has forced hotel schools and businesses to think of doing some things differently, but not to rip the soul and fun out of hospitality. Zoom has been a much used example of this, but the sooner this can be consigned to the Covid scrap heap, the better.

So, who is going to offer an alternative vision for the future ? Thankfully another CEO has said, “The fact the industry is so people intensive can be viewed as a strength as long as companies are properly empowering their people.” And that’s the key isn’t it? And trust. Empowerment at the hotel operations level does, in my experience, pay high dividends.

Confidence, assertiveness, leadership, passion and loyalty are some of the qualities unleashed by those who are empowered. It all leads to a positive and happy working environment and, I assure you, the guest notices. It’s so simple. There is nothing complicated about managing a hotel.

I don’t need to remind hospitality professionals of a certain age that the business has always been, and I hope always will be, about people.

Striving for excellence in service is a wonderful thing to be a part of as well as creating emotional bonds with our colleagues, guests. And yes, building brands is a rewarding endeavour. Those not of a certain age need to be reminded of this, lest they believe that the industry of the future is all about the soulless world of “high margins and less labour” and that service excellence becomes the exception rather than the rule going forward.

Now more than ever, the industry needs people who are creative and passionate, and who have specialist skills to take it forward. Hotel schools must not pretend that the past did not exist and they should at least spend half a day out of their three-year courses to explain how our industry evolved from the days of ‘La Belle Époque’ to today. After all, there are hotel schools housed within such hotels from that era, the Caux Palace Hotel above Montreux in Switzerland being one magnificent example.

There are so many amazing examples of hoteliers pushing the boundaries of design and food and beverage concepts and entrepreneurs, old and new, continue to share their bold and imaginative dreams. I hope and pray that is where the future lies.

Travel is going to come roaring back and the hospitality industry will thrive once again. Hopefully it will not return as a shadow of its former self; rather it will present as a stronger, more resilient business, incorporating and treasuring the very best of what we knew before, while also proving greater value, innovation and entertainment for the multitudes of deserving guests.

Send us your Feedback / Letter to the Editor

▲ top

NOTE: Telephone and fax numbers, e-mails, website addresses, rates and other details may change or get dated. Please check with your dealer/agent/service-provider or directly with the parties concerned. SmartTravel Asia accepts no responsibility for any inadvertent inaccuracies in this article. Links to websites are provided for the viewer's convenience. SmartTravel Asia accepts no responsibility for content on linked websites or any viruses or malicious programs that may reside therein. Linked website content is neither vetted nor endorsed by SmartTravelAsia. Please read our Terms & Conditions.