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GLF: after the terrorist attacks, in what ways can the international hotel industry react?

During the Global Lodging Forum, five hotel industry professionals have mentioned the impact of terrorist attacks on their business. From German, Belgian, French and Turkish markets hoteliers share their experiences and suggest how to respond to this threat.

Gaston Gellens, General Director, Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Brussels

"In Brussels many properties closed, in particular independent hotels. It is impressive to see how much time it takes to recover. The business  segment is not affected as much as the leisure segment, but that depends on source markets. American and Asian markets are the most reticent. After the attacks, our clientele asked many questions about security. This is a concern hoteliers must face and respond to. In Belgium, the government's reaction was positive. Several favorable measures were implemented for hoteliers. Security is very much perceptual. Unfortunately we cannot plan for everything. We must insist and convince travelers that we have strengthened security measures. It is also necessary to promote the destination; that is all we can do right now. We must continue to appropriate opportunities as they arise from the tourism market."

Michel Jauslin, Area Vice President Operations, Hyatt France

"The impact of terrorism can be very powerful depending on the hotels and the segments; it is stronger on the luxury segment luxe than on the 3- and 4-star segments. We also see that leisure clientele are more affected than business clientele. Communication is indirect through presence and reinforced surveillance. The reaction must be visible. It is necessary to be prepared and have a method. We offer our employees training to learn how to react rapidly in case of an alert. Today, the terrorist risk has been fairly well assimilated. Paris, on the other hand, must make some effort in other areas such as purse-snatching and lack of control in airports and hotels, which tourists are more worried by that. After the tragedy in Nice prices were adjusted to the situation; we have always been able to maintain the volume as long as we adjusted prices. Humans have a strong ability to adapt, and we will learn to live with these problems."

Salim Nazaraly, CEO, Orea Management

"In Paris, the impact of terrorism was strong for a fairly long period. Paris was a tranquil destination, where hotel business was good; its hoteliers had to face a significant drop in the number of tourists from one day to the next. Leisure, Chinese and Japanese clientele (following visa restrictions…) were the most affected; the media insisted on the dramatic aspect. Our governments have implemented measures adapted to the needs of the local population. For our industry, declaring a state of emergency has created a negative image for the destination: one of a state that is at war overall, which is not reassuring for tourists. The impact could be felt in Paris's exhibitions. It is important to de-dramatize these events and promote our destination differently, by focusing on its positive aspects, by focusing on conveying pleasure and the dream. Tourism is a means of discovering the other. It is important to share different civilizations and move forward in this regard."

Torsten Schultze, General Director, Deutsche Hospitality, Berlin

"Berlin has undoubtedly been an exception compared with what we experienced in the past. This may undoubtedly be explained by the type of attack we experienced in correlation with the reaction of authorities. Communications have made it possible to attenuate the impact by showing that everything was under control. Thanks to the image conveyed, the economic impact was minimal. Protests took place in Germany, but they were well organized and shared a clear message: our culture is stronger than their actions. I believe it is important to be cautious when it comes to communications regarding security; otherwise it insists on the fact that there is a risk and a reason to be scared. On the contrary, it is important to show that life goes on as before, that we are a free society. After the attacks, the population took to the streets to prove it was not scared. It is a positive signal that was perceived from abroad."

Fatih Senuslu, General Director, Intercontinental Istanbul

"In Istanbul the situation is particularly difficult. The RevPAR dropped by more than 40%. The political context also has an impact on the behavior of investors. We do not expect improvement in the situation before 2020. Communications are essential with both hotel personnel and guests as well as with the government. Employees must be on alert and clear security measures must be provided to guests. For the moment it is too soon to launch an advertising campaign for our destination because the situation is not stable - attacks happen once or twice a month. The drop in prices makes it possible to capture a share of clientele, but mostly those from the Middle East. It is not a factor appealing to American and Asian clientele. We must remain optimistic about the future, but peace remains essential for our industry."

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