Repurposing properties as the new normal

    Taal Vista Hotel’s Work From Home room offer combines workplace must-haves, such as strong internet connectivity, with the convenience of a hotel stay amidst the soothing backdrop of the Taal lake and volcano.

    SMHCC continues to expand its footprint across the country as it looks to the future with confidence and optimism. It has also launched highly-customized programs for each guest looking for long-term accommodation.

    REPURPOSING properties has been one of the ways that SM Hotels and Conventions Corp. (SMHCC) has responded to weather these challenging times.

    Peggy Angeles, executive vice president at SMHCC, said the recent events led to a paradigm shift which calls for innovation.

    SMHCC has launched the “In Residence” concept – a highly-customized innovation in long term hotel accommodation.

    According to Angeles, it effectively fills-in the needs of guests looking for well-appointed spaces with the conveniences and perks associated with hotel living, vis-à-vis usual rentals that do not enjoy unique benefits such as worry-free housekeeping, complimentary parking, unlimited high speed internet access, and the like.

    Angeles said that having a sound business acumen and an enterprising vision have helped SMHCC weather the storm.

    “We have also introduced the Work From Home room offer which combines workplace must-haves,” she said, such as strong internet connectivity with the convenience of a hotel stay amidst the soothing backdrop of the Taal lake and volcano.

    She said the property likewise repurposed its function spaces at SMX, transforming them into safe satellite/ghost kitchens, warehousing, production studios, and tailor-made exam and licensure spaces.

    “We look forward to the availability of a vaccine in the country and making it accessible to all,” Angeles said, as this will increase the public’s confidence to go out and jump start traveling to enjoy leisure activities outside of home.

    Angeles stressed the key is to consistently adapt to new concepts in health and safety.

    Based on the industry’s collective analysis, the hospitality and travel sectors will be in the pre-pandemic levels by 2023.

    “For SMHCC, hospitality surpasses the confines of the walls of a hotel,” she said, adding that exceptional service has never been limited to the corners of a convention center.

    The property’s vision and mission are deeply founded upon the unique brand of Filipino hospitality, resilience, and passion. “Certainly, we take pride in the fact that our properties have imbibed this to the very core of their service culture,” Angeles noted.

    She said SMHCC continues to expand its footprint across the country, as it looks to the future with confidence and optimism.

    Set to open this year are the Park Inn by Radisson Clark which has undergone a 100-room expansion as well as Park Inn by Radisson Bacolod.

    The SMX Clark is also targeted to open this year.

    Now more than ever, guests’ priority has always been safety and they are willing to shift toward a cashless society to ensure their safety.

    “We see this in our properties as guests continue to inquire about payment options that will only require them to transact online/digitally,” Angeles said.

    The prevalence of QR codes, the rise in credit card transactions and online bills payment, the continued increase of online businesses (MSMEs) that only have bank transfers or GCash as payment options are all indicators of the preference of online/digital modes of payment over cash, she explained.

    Angeles advised to remain focused on guests and employees’ safety, adapt to the call of the times, and strictly adhere to health protocols and guidelines.

    “In our case, having a sound business acumen and an enterprising vision have helped us weather the storm,” she pointed out.

    The property has continuously raised the bar in terms of hygiene and sanitation and its protocols conform with more than the minimum quality standards.

    “Innovation and creativity should consistently abound,” Angeles noted.

    SMHCC, which incorporated the lessons of the pandemic both in its present and future developments, has invested in sustainability features, new dining concepts, use of technology for various touchless/contactless transactions, and additional safety equipment such as thermal imaging systems, electrostatic sprayers, and UV disinfection lamps.

    At the core of SMHCC is its solid foundation in guest service and satisfaction as well as a forward-looking approach, Angeles noted.

    SMHCC has primed its properties for the new normal with its “SustainablySafe” Program, solidifying its purpose to always go beyond what is mandated because its service standard can never be understated.

    The program, aimed at ensuring the wellbeing of everyone under the care of SMHCC, is the property’s health and hygiene program designed to provide its guests and staff with utmost safety and comfort.

    It includes intensive and holistic sets of policies, follows efficient and methodical procedures as well as heralds a guest-centric approach in the prevention and mitigation of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and other diseases.

    The program is also a reflection of SMHCC’s ideals that drive the company to remain dedicated, grateful, and mindful. Health and safety protocols encompass the following areas: hotel and convention staff; guest rooms, event venues, and leisure facilities; food and beverage; payments and transactions; and operations, engineering, and waste management.

    In support of the government’s efforts against the spread of COVID-19, some of SMHCC’s properties were used as quarantine hotels for returning overseas Filipino workers and Philippine residents, and catered to authorized persons outside residence from key industries.

    “In the last quarter of 2020, some of our hotels in leisure destinations were allowed to take in staycations,” Angeles said.

    The group-wide hotel occupancy, she noted, “was impacted as much as 20 percentage points and average daily rate as much as 40 percent compared to pre-pandemic level.”

    Yet, fueled by the Filipinos’ resilience and vigor in the midst of difficult times, SMHCC sees an optimistic future riding on the solid foundation of the SM brand, Angeles said.