Industry Insights with Radisson’s Tim Cordon
The group’s senior area vice president for MEA talks about preparing for the future of hospitality
What have been your operational priorities during this time?
One of Radisson Hotel Group’s highest priorities is the continued health, safety and security of its guests, team members, and business partners. While the current situation has had a profound impact on daily operations, we are taking advantage of this time to refine various elements and procedures to ensure our teams and hotels are fully prepared to maximize their potential when the gates of travel reopen.
There are many factors we’ve had to consider from an operational perspective, including repurposing some of our hotels for essential service use, adapting new strategies and approaches to secure a strong reopening once tourism restarts, expanding hygiene, sanitation and precautionary measures, social distancing implementation.
What are some processes that have changed?
We recently launched the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol, a new program of in-depth cleanliness and disinfection procedures, in partnership with SGS, the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. These enhanced protocols, operational guidance and comprehensive health and safety procedures validated by SGS, will be adapted based on local requirements and recommendations, to ensure guests’ safety and peace of mind from check-in to check-out. We will soon be announcing an extension to our brand commitment which includes 20 steps and an additional 10-step protocol for meetings & events.
Have any CSR initiatives been introduced?
Being a responsible business is part of our DNA. We are passionate about caring for others, and that extends beyond the walls of our hotels as we believe in positive and meaningful action. Our team members have been supporting this philosophy, from individual hotels to our corporate offices via various initiatives relevant to the needs of our local communities, from blood donations and meal deliveries to donating cleaning products, masks and gloves for healthcare and other frontline workers. In different countries, we have seen extraordinary measures of kindness, compassion and dedication.
What are some examples of upskilling that are taking place?
It is important that hotels incorporate long-term, forward-thinking strategies that address how operational efficiency can be achieved when the impact of COVID-19 subsides. One example of a long-term strategy is the upskilling of team members. We have rolled out extensively our Radisson Academy online training portal and educational courses. The Radisson Academy Online offers several self-paced online training courses and as well as virtual classrooms. We have expanded and adapted the training offering to ensure our employees have plenty of opportunities to grow and develop further.
We recently launched special Virtual Masterclass inviting guest speakers who facilitate interactive workshops around skills that are relevant to the current context. Team members can actively participate during the masterclasses through collaborative activities. We conducted the first Radisson Academy Virtual focused on ‘Innovation in Critical Times’, with top speakers from London Business School. We have more coming soon on a weekly basis including topics like ‘Navigate Crisis’, ‘Stop Planning – Start Preparing’, ‘Team Dynamics’ and ‘Influencing’. All this content is available for our team members no matter their working scheme.
Have any positives come out of the current situation?
COVID-19 has brought out many positive attributes in people around the world. It has been uplifting to see communities come together in support of key workers and medical professionals, rallying around each other. We have seen this especially in the hospitality industry which has been one of the most affected, where we have been opening our doors to medical professionals who are working tirelessly on the front line, donating PPE to hospitals, ministries of health and local charities, donating food and complimentary meals and offering cleaning products and toiletries to healthcare workers. My hope is that we don’t forget this remarkable resilience, commitment, integrity, an unfailing 'Yes I Can' spirit and, most importantly, kindness and generosity towards the local communities where we operate and live.
In difficult times like these, it has been key to adapt our communications approach as one unified industry. We ensure our teams and hotels are engaged and motivated with daily communications via messages and video calls. It has been really interesting and inspiring to see how humans can adapt and create new routines.
What do you think the lasting impact will of COVID-19 will be on the hospitality industry?
The good news is that our colleagues in Asia are already seeing positive news and changes within the hospitality sector as restrictions begin to ease. It is becoming clear that it will take some time for our hotels to resume back to “normal” operations. A big part of getting back to business will be assuring guests that it’s safe to resume back to their travel habits. Moving forward, technology will be a key tool in the revival of travel, with electronic passports and IDs, boarding passes, medical screening, and robot cleaners being deployed. As we enter this new era of travel, we will all need to implement various methods to ensure travellers maintain their personal space, making them and others feel safe and at ease.