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Neelu Singh: HRS has created innovative solutions geared toward reshaping the hotel category of corporate travel

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By creating lodging as a service, HRS is revolutionising the accommodation category for corporations, hotels and business travellers worldwide. Neelu SIngh, managing director, HRS speaks about the company’s recent tie-up with SGS and her belief that the the Indian market is more than ready to move towards a mature lodging service offering  

Hoteliers around the world are investing significant amounts into new cleanliness procedures. Your insights on this.

Hoteliers around the world are redefining their hygiene standards. They are adapting new hygiene protocols defined internally and/or subscribed by the government authorities. Hotels anyways take hygiene protocols very seriously, but after this pandemic, this subject has taken a different level of importance now. Corporations increasingly will not send their travellers to hotels than have not enhanced their hygiene protocols. Moreover, hygiene measures will be critical to build traveller confidence. The redefined duty of care is leading hotels to adopt strict cleanliness measures. Practices like medical checkups for all team members, thermal checkups of anyone entering the premises of the hotel, usage of sanitisers at all levels, usage of PPE is being made compulsory for the hotel staff. Many hotels have also re-designed their public areas (lobbies / restaurants / meeting rooms, etc) to accommodate new social distancing guidelines.

What does HRS’s new collaboration with SGS entail?

HRS, the leading global corporate lodging platform, and SGS, the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company, introduced a new cleanliness-focused program for the hotel industry today. The Clean & Safe Protocol provides corporations and hoteliers with a well-defined standard at a time when property hygiene is the leading factor as corporations plan to send business travellers back on the road. Hotels earning the designation as a safe property gain access to a new label for use in HRS procurement and booking channels and on-property displays at entrances, lobbies and in-room marketing. HRS will display this label on its proprietary desktop, mobile and agent booking solutions, as well as corporate online booking engines (OBEs) such as Concur and Cytric.

The Clean & Safe Protocol is based on a comprehensive catalogue of measures that includes recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as guidelines for meetings and groups as defined by the Research Institute for Exhibition and Live-Communication (RIFEL). Measures include:

  • Improved hygiene services in public areas, guest and meeting rooms
  • Extended infection prevention measures
  • Guaranteed minimum distances
  • Implementation of revised training programs for employees and suppliers
  • Regular control and monitoring, and
  • Other measures that illustrate consistent, recurring practices that enhance safety.

Many hotels worldwide have already enhanced their hygiene measures to address the new reality, with chains leading the way. HRS and SGS are committed to helping all hotels – multi-national chains, regional groups, and independent properties – ensure their cleanliness and distancing investments pay off via accurate representation in procurement and shopping channels. By conveying each hotel’s enhanced practices, business travellers and hotel programme leaders will quickly gain confidence as they look ahead to re-launching travel activities. By incorporating internal processes and employee security, the Clean & Safe Protocol also demonstrates the hotel’s focus on both employees and guests.

How will Covid-19 change the virtual/digital payments landscape in hospitality?

Cash flow focus is intensifying for all hoteliers now. Opportunities with cash upfront is being preferred. Virtual payments through cards is gaining traction as corporations want to drive more touchless experiences for travellers. Buyers are preparing themselves to address this need of the hotels. Banks will beef up their offering to the buyers in order to encourage digital payments. This shift towards the digital payments will not only benefit cash flows but will also digitise operations of the hotels. Virtual payments will take away lot of activities which were being handled offline, while also increasing accuracy and reducing fraud. All in all, it is a win-win-win for hoteliers, corporate hotel programmes and business travellers. Globally, hotels have reduced their workforces via furloughs and job cuts.

How can HRS help hoteliers to regain business continuity in the current crisis?

Hotel are investing lot of time, effort and money in setting up new hygiene protocols and adapting them. HRS will amplify these efforts by making them transparent in both the procurement AND hotel shopping processes via easy-to-see labels. HRS’ main priority is to ensure the health, safety and security of our customers and business partners as we all navigate Covid-19. With this new protocol, HRS helps hotels to deliver a consistent standard while enhancing transparency for all corporate procurement leaders and business travellers.

More than 50 checks in 12 categories will be covered as hotels have two options to earn the “Clean & Safe” label. These include:

  • Physical Distancing
  • Technical Equipment
  • Staff Training
  • High Touch Areas
  • Sanitisation & PPE
  • Food & Beverage
  • Fitness & Wellness
  • Management Team
  • Supplier Management
  • Tracing Systems
  • Meetings & Events
  • Contactless Reception

Hotels earning the designation as a safe property gain access to a new label for use in HRS procurement and booking channels and on-property displays at entrances, lobbies and in-room marketing. HRS will display this label on its proprietary desktop, mobile and agent booking solutions, as well as corporate online booking engines (OBEs) such as Concur and Cytric.

HRS and the India market?

HRS entered the Indian market three years ago. India is a primary focus market for HRS for obvious reasons. The company remains committed to extending its expertise in lodging as a service to the Indian hotel partners and business travellers.  We take a technology-first approach, providing a suite of wholly owned solutions built to feed data from one stage of the lodging journey to another. We layer in automation and AI, to enable gain continuous improvements in quality, efficiency and cost across the transient, MICE and dynamic project categories in the business traveller’s world. The Indian market is more than ready to move towards a mature lodging service offering and HRS takes pride in being the global leader in the lodging category. Our global footprint – HRS serves more than one-third of the Fortune 500 – gives us the knowhow advantage. Clubbed with our local expertise of an experienced team in India, we are able to offer mature solutions to our hotel partners and travel buyers.

Future footprint for HRS?

HRS will continue to strengthen its presence in India. The world is changing; it’s time for travel procurement and management to change with it. We’ve created innovative solutions geared toward reshaping the hotel category of corporate travel at every step of the traveller journey, empowering corporates to go from travel management to travel leadership. They are able to cut costs; gain greater visibility on traveller behaviour and programme spend; adapt quickly to shifts in market dynamics and travel patterns; and improve the overall experience of their business travellers. We make it happen with a comprehensive network of offices in top business travel markets, an unmatched staff of on-the-ground hotel experts, smart technology designed to help companies optimise their lodging allocation. HRS is well-positioned to endure the pandemic, and continues to invest in new products and services – such as the new Clean & Safe Protocol – to support corporate clients as they recalibrate their programmes for the day when business travel ramps back up.

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