How are small hotels reacting to COVID-19 in Europe and across the Mediterranean
Operating in very unusual conditions
Summer is usually peak season for the majority of hotels in Europe and across the Mediterranean, with the busiest months being July and August. However, it is evident that 2020 has not been a usual year.
While load factors were acceptable in most cases, 80% of managers of small independent hotels declared that operations were worse than the summer season last year. With travel regulations rapidly changing from country to country, hotels have had to cope with a huge, conflicting influx of last-minute cancellations and booking requests. As well as the upheaval around implementing additional health and safety measures, the stress of operating under such exceptional and uncertain conditions took its toll on both staff and guests, making for an even more difficult atmosphere. As a result, operations have become a major area of concern for 26% of the hoteliers, as they require more focus than usual.
Coping with changing regulations
The summer season in most leisure-led hotels was in general satisfying with regard to the load factors. Hoteliers in the region are not concerned about the demand; in October, bookings intake slightly improved as we headed into the winter.
Nevertheless, hospitality professionals in the Mediterranean region are still very concerned, both about the change of regulations in their home countries and in their target markets. 46% of hoteliers are worried about the soft global economy and the impact it will have on travel habits (up from 42% in July). Travel restrictions and flight cancellations are often cited as an extra dark spot in the sector. More and more hotels are dreading the instability and lack of visibility triggered by the pandemic.
The sector’s crisis is a trigger for innovation
One would expect all hoteliers to implement cost reduction strategies to respond to the drop in demand. Indeed, 56% of the hotels reduced their labor costs and 45% implemented additional cost-cutting measures.
While 34% were forced to reduce their operations period, others adopted the opposite approach and decided to upgrade their properties (26%), invest in technology (32%) and a few even increased their salaries to boost staff motivation and give their employees additional support following the months of closure.
The crisis is triggering innovation among hoteliers, inciting them to adopt new strategies: 35% changed their target market to adapt to the travel restrictions, 15% upgraded their services or started offering a new panel of services, such as transforming the hotel into a co-living space and hosting small events on the property.
Despite the crisis, Hoteliers confirm their commitment to sustainability
While professionals in the sector were anticipating a very negative impact on sustainability, the proportion of hoteliers confirming their commitment to more responsible hospitality has increased to 71% while only 2% are not considering it at all. We foresee opportunities for improvement in some specific markets where 10% to 15% of hotels are still considering getting on the sustainability path, namely Greece (14%), France (11%), and Malta (14%).
About the report
The survey was answered in October 2020 by 125 small boutique hotels across 12 Mediterranean countries. Managers (and owners) of small independent hotels across the Mediterranean are prompted about their business performance, priorities and concerns. The Barometer allows an ongoing measurement of boutique hoteliers sentiment. Recent results are compared to the previous Hotel Sentiment Survey sessions (February 2020 and July 2020)
The Boutique Vibe
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The Boutique Vibe is the first collection of small independent hotels focusing exclusively on the Mediterranean region. Our mission is to promote Mediterranean hospitality in its most authentic form. We are partnering exclusively with small independent properties with unique character while focusing on the most environmentally friendly & sustainable hotels.
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