Reference article on Skift Sep 2020 — Arne Sorenson the CEO of Marriott talks about building consumer confidence.
Business Levels in U.S. and International
Business is down in the U.S. close to 70%. China has been better and Sorenson thinks Chinese market could actually rebound to pre-pandemic levels as early as next year.
“China reacted with extraordinary power when the virus first appeared. They shut down the country, and when they shut down the country, they broke the curve of the virus in a way that probably hasn’t been done in other markets of the world,” Sorenson said. “We can all debate whether that’s the right thing or the wrong thing. It is what it is.”
The variety of initiatives across all hotel brands garnered criticism in recent weeks, as skeptics label some elements as “hygiene theater” that aren’t necessarily effective on their own. But Sorenson defended the approach.
“A temperature check is a very dubious tool for ID’ing those who have the virus; nevertheless, that temperature check is hygiene theater, if you will,” Sorenson said. “It’s communicating to folks we care about what you feel and want you to stop and think about if you’re having any symptoms, and we also want to communicate to you that you’re now entering a place in which we’ve got protocols in place to protect you and others in the environment.”
Further, he said critics should view the measures as a package deal rather than a standalone feature for their effectiveness. Business won’t build back unless guests have confidence, even if that is achieved through a little hygiene theater.
“Somebody explained this like Swiss cheese: If you’ve got one slice of Swiss cheese, you’ve got holes and can get through it,” Sorenson said. “But if you’ve got four or five slices of Swiss cheese stacked next to each other … Put it all together, it makes a substantive difference in safety, a provably reduced risk of the spread of the virus, and collectively engaged in a theater that tells us or reminds us all to be careful. By being careful, we’ve further reduced the real risk associated with it.”
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