Hotel chain turns to online events management to stay afloat

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 21) — The hospitality sector was among the hardest hit by lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but some quick movers were able to find new revenue streams to stay afloat.

Megaworld Hotels Group general manager Cleofe Albiso said their chains were able to remain in business despite the public health crisis as they embraced new business models, helping them endure the slump in travel, tourism, and MICE or Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibition bookings for nearly half a year now.

"The journey of the Megaworld Hotels group during this pandemic has actually been a very unique one," Albiso told CNN Philippines' Rico Hizon. While some hotels opted to shut down as a precautionary measure and to preserve cash, she said the group heeded the call of the Department of Tourism to accommodate repatriated overseas Filipino workers as well as seafarers who need to undergo quarantine upon arrival.

Among the properties part of billionaire Andrew Tan's conglomerate are Richmonde Hotel Ortigas, Eastwood Richmonde Hotel, Richmonde Hotel Iloilo, Savoy Hotel Manila, Savoy Hotel Mactan, Savoy Hotel Boracay, Belmont Hotel Manila, Belmont Hotel Boracay, Twin Lakes Hotel, Hotel Lucky Chinatown.

"We also hosted employees of BPOs (business process outsourcing firms) who needed housing because of the restrictions on travel as well. This kept us going," Albiso said, referring to call center workers whose employers opted to provide sleeping quarters to minimize their exposure.

Another nifty solution was to take the business online. Corporate events and meetings had long been sources of profits. The hotel group did not let work-from-home arrangements take that business away.

"We saw the need to develop a virtual events management platform, where the supposed events that we do in the hotels are now being done online," she said.

"It doesn't stop with technical support that people do in doing a webinar and online meetings, it also ends in being able to provide food that is uniform and standard and we make deliveries," Albiso added. E-concierge arrangements have also been put up to lessen interaction.

Hotels are only allowed to resume tourism-related activities in areas under modified general community quarantine, so the wait is longer especially for branches in Metro Manila.