For Fast Company’s Shape of Tomorrow series, we’re asking business leaders to share their inside perspective on how the COVID-19 era is transforming their industries. Here’s what’s been lost—and what could be gained—in the new world order.
Mark Hoplamazian is the CEO of Hyatt Hotels Corporation, which operates more than 900 hotels and resorts across the world
We’re now at a point where virtually all of our hotels in China are reopened. And we’ve seen steady increases in demand. Before this recent outbreak in Beijing, more than 50% of our hotels in China were running at 50% or better occupancies. That confidence comes from the extensive contact tracing environment that they’ve got there.
It’s clear that the lower-priced chains—the economy, budget, and midscale hotels—are doing better. Some of that is locational: A lot of those hotels are at airports, around airports, and on the interstates, so that means that they’re accommodating people who are moving around. But over the next six- to 12-month period, you’re going to see a bit of a barbell recovery, where lower-tier, lower-price hotels will be doing well, and then you will have luxury hotels doing well once air travel starts to free up a little bit. The hotels that will [take] the longest to recover are our large group meetings hotels, our convention hotels. . . .
Steve Hafner is the co-founder and CEO of the travel search engine Kayak and the CEO of restaurant reservations platform OpenTable
We got an early read on what COVID-19 was going to do to our business because we have operations in China and Asia. As we started seeing travel demand soften [there], we said, if this virus escapes, it’s going to have a similar impact across our businesses. We started focusing on informing our users, not only travelers, but especially customers on the restaurant side. Airlines and hoteliers are big companies and well-resourced. Restaurateurs are a completely different beast. We did a lot of messaging to restaurants saying, these are all the things you need to be aware of; here’s a hub for information about government restrictions; here’s a way to turn off your books, so that you’re not taking reservations for hours you’re not going to operate. If you want to sell excess inventory, here’s how to do it. Get on the phone with your landlords and start negotiating on your rent. Take advantage of government programs, all that kind of stuff.
Rob Katz is the CEO Vail Resorts, which owns 37 ski resorts in three countries, and operates a number of North American hotels
Our focus is on reopening summer operations in North America and winter operations in Australia, and then reopening winter operations next November in North America. [Having ski resorts in Australia] is definitely helpful.
We will learn a lot from them [because] there’s an intensity [to ski season] that’s different from summer operations. At the same time, it creates pressure because time really is of the essence, but it’s going to have to be safety first.
Joe Gebbia is the cofounder and chief product officer of Airbnb
There are three things that we think people will want. The first is to travel more locally. Second is affordable options. Third is that they want to prioritize cleanliness and private spaces.
I don’t think business travel will be the same as it used to be. We’ve all experienced the fact that business can go on without being together in person. It’s no longer cumbersome or technically challenging to conduct business digitally. That’s where the puck was headed anyway. The pandemic kind of accelerated it.
But new things are popping up, like our online experiences. That’s something that we never would have imagined. Our Experiences head said, hey let’s bring these online. So we gave it a shot. And sure enough online experiences have exploded on Airbnb.
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