|To Close or Not to Close.|
By Roland Wildberg ~ Weekly Exclusive - Views On The Latest Trends
Monday, 14th October 2013
Exclusive Feature: Off-season for many hotels is a critical period when there is the attraction to shut down; off-season in a hotel means the time of brutal truth.
It shows in unvealed reality to the guest what the environment really is about: An artificial holiday idyll with a somehow synthetic appearance or an authentic, naturally grown location with many aspects and, not to forget, added value. We had to face this again recently at the Spanish coastline, during high season quite notorious for its touristic flair – like almost any spot at Spanish mediterranean coastline.
At the beginning of October, there was absolutely nothing left of that flair: The town, for the first glance quite pittoresque with many bright white hotel fascades facing to the sea and beach promenade, at this time of the year seemed dead and lost. No doubt: That ghost town was a creation of the tourism industry with most of the hotels closing during winter time and the associated industries following shortly, which reduces public life withing days to a zero and makes everything fold down into nothing.
You could deposit the whole town in the cellar during winter or put a huge dust cover over it. Only the „Miramar“ (which is a stereotype for similiar sounding and looking properties throughout the Mediterranean) bravely kept its gates open day by day, and the waiters and concierge in boredom yawned at each other over the counter. Obviously it could not stand against the trend and was just about to follow the rest of the pack within weeks.
What a dilemma: Shall hoteliers close during off season or wave the flag and stay open? As long as your property is not located at an attractive city area or a tropical destination, you may tend to decide to close. Especially during grim winter times in a summer destination all over the planet would lead to one idea: Cut costs by following wildlife's way of life: Go for hibernation.
We did watch this impressive phenomenon at a German Baltic sea destination in the former socialist part: After an optimistic beginning of openings for twelve months, an increasing number of hotels began to close between November and March, with nowadays a vast majority which turns many places into ghost towns.
The rest of the hoteliers tries to reduce deficit to a minimum by attracting low budget customers through lotteries und couponing – and in the mean time endangers their reputation carefully built up during the summer season.
Although for many of us it seams reasonable, to reduce costs – including staff's budget – to nothing, we need to see that there are disadvantages as well. We do not talk about a backing-up in maintenance oder the risk of vandalism on empty properties, but the real problem is the drain of skilled employees in an industry that does suffer increasingly from a lack of junior potential and the high frequency of service personnel. „I do not close any more during Winter time, because I owe this continuity to my employees“, a hoteliers in a small Central European tourist destination recently told us.
Otherwise he sooner or later would not find any more qualified assistents, he added. For a competent clerk an employer who can offer all-the-year-through contracts definetely make the difference.
Another key is local roots: „We will loose the local support and credibility, if we can offer convention space only nine months a year.“ It is an investment in the hotel's image and sustainability in general. Thus, here we return to our melancholic description during the introduction, an open hotel makes a location vivid and emanate widely over its literal visibility.
On the contrary, a closed property makes a location cold and unwelcomingly dismissive. Nobody will want to stay at such places. Or would you subscribe a magazine that is published only nine month a year? We agree.
By the way: We do close now this column for our urgently needed annual recreational winter break; please read our next article again in early April 2014. Okay, just kidding.
This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.
Roland Wildberg is Travel Writer and Correspondent based in Berlin, Germany. He started as an Editor for the National daily 'Die Welt' (tourism section), later on switched to a freelanced career and nowadays mainly publishes on the Web. Observing the hospitality industry always has fascinated him as it looks like the perfect combination of sleeping and writing – work-live-balance as its best.
Roland also heads the annual 4Hoteliers ITB Berlin news micro-site journalist and video/photo teams. For more info: www.4Hoteliers.com/itb.
Contact us for detailed information on our annual ITB Marketing Programs & Options. By Roland Wildberg ~ Weekly Exclusive - Views On The Latest Trends