With current uncertainty engulfing the travel industry, knowing how and when to reopen your property can be a daunting prospect. But as demand slowly starts to pick up, properties are preparing to welcome guests once again by adapting their strategies and processes.
Pek Chin Siong is the Vice President of Hotel Operations at Marina Bay Sands, which fronts Marina Bay in Singapore and has 2561 rooms and suites. We spoke with Chin Siong to ask about the key considerations that were top of mind when planning to reopen the property and how the business had to adapt as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Click.: What are your concerns during this time?
Chin Siong: During this new era of travel where the hospitality world has changed significantly due to COVID-19, our main priority is to instil a sense of comfort and reassurance among our hotel guests once we have a chance to welcome them back.
Across the tourism industry, we also have to find ways to pre-empt post-pandemic visitor expectations of the "new normal”. This includes addressing public health considerations, raising sanitisation measures and using technology to redesign our processes. We also need to ensure we do all these without compromising on the customer experience.
Click.: Where do you see business adapting as a result of COVID-19?
Chin Siong: We are adopting a new way of business and introducing comprehensive measures with the health and well-being of our guests, team members and community in mind.
For instance, we have accelerated our pace of technology adoption. We recently developed a proprietary entry system (MBS SafeEntry) that allows us to capture live, to-the-minute updates of the entire population across the integrated resort (IR). This technology syncs information of guests and staff through their National Registration Identity Card with the Singapore government’s SafeEntry system for contact tracing purposes. It allows for an additional layer of crowd control and active capacity management at Marina Bay Sands.
Click.: What steps and precautionary measures did you take in preparation for reopening the hotel?
Chin Siong: Across the IR, we have set up taskforces to explore how to improve operations in the post-COVID world, from reimagining our processes and venue set-ups to designing masks and goggles that seek to protect both staff and guests on property.
Beyond being certified as an SG Clean venue, which is a hygiene and sanitation certification by the Singapore government, we are working towards even higher standards of hygiene and sanitisation measures.
At the hotel, this means sanitising all our key cards before they are re-used, using hospital-grade disinfectants to clean guest rooms (especially high-touch items such as TV remote controls and light switches), and providing wellness amenity kits that come with surface disinfectant, spray hand sanitiser, a touchless tool key, disposable gloves and a mask container.
After check-out, all rooms are sanitised using an electrostatically charged misting machine, while linens will be washed at a high temperature of 70 degrees Celsius in order to eliminate any possible viral and bacterial pathogens and prevent cross-contamination.
Other measures we’ve taken include limiting pool capacity at our infinity pool and staggering check-in and check-out timings to prevent crowd congregation.'We will be minimising physical interactions through contactless payment solutions...' Image: credit to Marina Bay Sands
Click.: How is the brand rethinking its hotel processes?
Chin Siong: We will be minimising physical interactions through contactless payment solutions and contactless delivery of service, luggage and in-room dining wherever possible.
While we work towards seamless and contactless operations at the hotel, we are also looking at ways to redesign our guests’ journey to strike a balance between maintaining human-centric experiences and contactless service. This could come in the form of taking note of our guests’ preference to create personalised welcome amenity gift packs or even developing a virtual itinerary and in-room experience to enhance their stay.
The focal point of our redesigned hotel processes is to allow our team members to be able to interact with guests in more tailored ways while creating memorable experiences.
Click.: You mentioned contactless payment solutions. Do you envision new technology playing a key role in shaping the post-COVID hotel experience?
Chin Siong: Definitely. Technology is an important element of the contactless customer journey. In addition to contactless payment, we are looking at utilising technology and apps to facilitate digital check-ins, deploying smart control of hotel room appliances and replacing the need for physical tickets for our venues and attractions.
Click.: If you could share one piece of advice with other hoteliers at this time, what would it be?
Chin Siong: We are living in unprecedented times where it is imperative for us to be nimble. While the tourism industry is facing the prospect of a medium-to-long recovery period, we need to realise that consumer expectations will continually evolve at a rapid pace and we must act swiftly to address their concerns while keeping an eye toward the “new normal”.
- As properties work towards restarting operations, adaptations are key to ensuring guests feel safe and reassured when on site.
- Adoption of new technologies, especially contactless, is set to play a critical role in shaping the ‘new normal’ at hotels
- Along with enhanced hygiene measures, Marina Bay Sands’ Pek Chin Siong cites tailored guest experiences as a focal point for the brand moving forward
- As the situation continues to unfold, keeping an eye on evolving customer expectations will be key