Interview on the adaptation of the Don Gregory hotel to the pandemic with the Director of Operations at Dunas Hotels & Resorts, Manuel Romero.
The global pandemic caused by Covid-19 has forced all of us to change our lives in all aspects, even in the way we interact with each other. At Dunas Hotels & Resorts, we work hard to make sure that our hotels and spaces are safe, and to re-establish confidence among travellers, becoming a safe destination with connected security protocols, procedures and elements that facilitate sanitation and the capacity to provide safe visits. Our objective is to guarantee a memorable, secure and positive experience for our guests. The pandemic has had an immediate influence on consumption guidelines for tourists, so Dunas Hotels & Resorts has adapted its value proposals to the priorities of our guests. Currently, the main concerns of travellers are our ability to offer them flexible rates and policies as well as excellent health and safety measures. We spoke to Manuel Romero, director of operations at Dunas Hotels & Resorts, to learn about the changes and lessons learned in this extremely complicated year.
What measures were taken before the reopening after the initial lockdown?
Before the pandemic we had already established very effective cleaning procedures, standards and protocols in all of our hotels, as the health and safety of our guests was already a priority before this situation. For example, we had a protocol for viral outbreaks (Norovirus). All of the protocols have been revised, updated and adapted before the reopening, with the guidance of, among others, Dr. José Luis Arocha, medical epidemiologist and expert in prevention of contagious diseases in accommodation establishments. During lockdown we were concentrated and working hard on the development and adaptation of all of the protocols, for example implementing the certified virucides because beyond simple cleaning, disinfection has become essential. Our protocols ensure compliance with all of the safety measures, guaranteeing the safety of our customers and employees at all times.
How was the team at Dunas Hotels & Resorts trained for these changes?
From the precise moment that the reopening of Hotel Don Gregory was considered, a continuous program of information and training on prevention of Covid-19 has been carried out, in which the entirety of the personnel were involved. When it was time to consider our return to activity, preventive information was sent to all of the staff and later we continued with a series of training and informative actions, meetings etc. that have formed part of the Covid Prevention Plan that has been implemented at the hotel. Through the Dunas Prevention Service, we carried out Covid prevention courses for each of the areas in the hotel, just as we will also be doing with the rest of the hotels which will be reopening shortly. At Dunas we have held various talks and meetings with the teams from each area regarding the protocol for action and guidelines, preventive measures, concepts relative to prevention and infection of Covid, etc., all with the objective of not only preventing infections but also keeping the team unified, informed and relaxed about all of the procedures that have been undertaken in this regard.
Has this situation been a driver for the digital transformation of Dunas Hotels & Resorts?
Without a doubt, we had several digital transformation projects that were already on our project list and that we gave priority to before the reopening of Don Gregory by Dunas in summer 2020. Among these, we can highlight several that directly affect the experience of our guests, making it easier and more comfortable, such as online check in prior to arrival at the hotel or the digitalisation of our Dunas Club loyalty program. We also took the opportunity to transfer many of our “physical elements” such as menus in the restaurants to a digital format within our app and to reinforce communication through the digital formats in the hotel, such as the digital screens.
What has the response been from guests who have visited the hotel during these months to the measures that have had to be taken?
In general, our guests understand and have positive opinions of all of the measures established, many of them praise our work for safety and mention that they really appreciate the measures implemented, as they transmit confidence and safety during their stay. In fact, the experience that our guests have had at Don Gregory by Dunas since the reopening is being great, and this is reflected in the ratings and comments that they leave on social media after their stay. Do you think that any of the changes and measures will be maintained after the pandemic is more controlled? We must continue to offer the maximum health and safety standards in order to remove hesitation that may arise when it comes to accommodation, and continue to adapt the cleaning protocols to the regulations in each case and moment. Of course, the current procedure for disinfection of rooms and common areas will be maintained, as well as small details aimed towards earning our customers’ trust, such as the hydroalcoholic gel dispensers located in various areas of the hotel. At this time when many people are still hesitant to travel, we must maintain flexible rates, continue launching attractive offers and personalising services that represent the opportunity to attract new customers. We will also maintain the tools that help us with task administration, coordination of personnel and keeping one step ahead of our customers’ needs.
What would you say you have learned from this year of the pandemic?
Without a doubt, we’ve learned a lot this year and everything we’ve learned will help us with our main objective: for our customers to have a memorable and safe experience at Dunas Hotels & Resorts. Perhaps I could highlight as the main lesson the need to be ready to be flexible and to work as a team in order to solve any future crises. We have also learned that digital transformation is a reality at present and it must be a priority in our group.