Hospitality operators urged to adapt
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Hospitality operators urged to adapt

Operators in the hospitality industry have been recommended to rethink their business strategies to serve new trends in tourism as the global pandemic is changing the way people travel.

"We have seen new trends in Thailand emerging from the outbreak as people are longing to experience meaningful travel and unique experiences as well as the flexibility to work from anywhere," said Duangkwan Synsatayakul, territory manager for Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan at Airbnb.

She said more than 40% of searches in April were looking for flexibility in terms of location and travel date as travel, living and working have been merged.

Moreover, as there have been more than 280 million searches for accommodation providing a WiFi connection, a new tool from Airbnb launched last month enables guests to test the internet connection of hosts.

Ms Duangkwan said business operators should not be afraid to adapt and they should prioritise the importance of listening to the needs of guests and hosts.

Speaking at Line Hospitality Tech 2021 webinar, Paisit Kaenchan, founder and principal of Hospitality Advisory Services, said there are new requirements for ongoing hotel projects, including kitchen compartments as tourists prefer to cook, as well as suitable working areas for workcations.

Travellers will be looking for smaller hotels or hotels that offer standards that can compete with branded hotels, instead of seeking properties with 300-500 rooms because of health concerns.

Even as certain travel behaviours may change, demand for new experiences will continue, said Boripat Louichareon, managing director of MEAP at The Standard Hotels.

However, operations and services for guests have to be delivered using new practices to ensure a high level of safety, said Mr Boripat.

He said once mass vaccination is achieved and restrictions are lifted, demand will rebound quickly, as seen from properties in the UK and New York, where some properties have even outperformed pre-pandemic levels.

Timothy Hughes, vice-president of corporate development at Agoda, said travel restrictions are holding back the Thai market compared with other countries with looser rules. The government and industry have to figure out a solution to ease restrictions and safely let tourists visit Thailand, said Mr Hughes.

He said the rule requiring tourists from eligible countries that are exempt from quarantine to spend a night at a hotel is a major obstacle to visiting the country.

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