Interview with Vanguélis Panayotis, CEO MKG Consulting & Hospitality ON for European City Marketing. Insights about the sanitary measures taken worldwide.

Last week, MKG came out with an extensive report on world-wide sanitary measures introduced in response to the COVID-19 crisis; who within the world of tourism and hospitality do you think will especially benefit from this report now – and why? Do you think we have already established best practices – or are they still mostly just new practices and best practice remains to be seen?

From your report findings, could you highlight three different examples of new initiatives and standards that stand out to you – perhaps also across three different sectors within the industry?

Safety and sanitation are new requirements, must-haves – but it seems there is a big difference in how this is offered, packaged and communicated; from standard to service. What examples do you think stand out, where these new safety requirements are packaged as services more so than “simply” meeting requirements by necessity?

A lot of the sanitation and hygiene initiatives introduced by perhaps especially the big hotel chains and airline are tech-based; do you think that this will create new barriers for the smaller businesses to also live up to the new standards and sanitary requirements? Will it require big additional investments for each individual business?

In addition to tech, restaurants, bars, attractions – within and outside hotels – have reduced capacity in terms of the number of people they can serve; in your view, what can they do to maintain or boost business under these new limited capacity circumstances? Have you come across new innovative business models and approaches to this?

The introduction of measures for safety and sanitation is to reassure travellers – but is there such a thing as communicating this aspect too much? Can it tip a balance and also scare visitors off?

Will the increased requirements for safety and sanitation influence price levels moving forward? 

Focus on personnel – in the early days of the crisis, we saw strikes at Le Louvre and throughout the crisis, there’s been a lot of focus on frontline personnel as the people most at risk. Have you seen good examples of businesses addressing this specifically, focusing on making their staff feel reassured and safe too?

In the early days, some of the first movers on these new safety requirements, were hotels. How do you see this develop with for example cruise ships? With decrease in capacity, safety measures of distancing and cleaning, buffets?

And, what about the meetings & events industry? How will it affect conventions moving forward?

How does the sanitation agenda affect the sustainable development of the tourism, travel and hospitality sector? Seems to increase single-use packaging, and even single-use plastic? Are there also aspects of these sanitation measures that can strengthen sustainable development?

ECM members are city DMOs of Europe – what role can / should they play with regards to new sanitary initiatives and requirements? How can they add value to these challenges?

Does it make sense that each country / region / city is establishing its own quality / safe label (like Portugal) or should this be more a global level or at least European level approach? … it seems now many DMOs, organizations and companies from the meetings industry, hotel chains etc. are collaborating or starting to use the “WTTC Safe Travels: Global Protocols & Stamp… how do you see this developing ahead? More individual organisational or city initiatives or bigger international standards?

Right now, focus on these measures and initiatives is big – because it’s new and its key to reopening and recovery; but how do you see this develop long-term? Will the requirements remain? Will customers continue to prioritize sanitation and also continue to comply with these? Will our fear decrease over time and measures therefore also relax? In short, and to finish off, do you think we will return to normal and business as usual – or are we moving towards a future of new or next normal, with significant and remaining changes to the world of tourism and hospitality?

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