- The sales manager of the tourist chain with hotels on the Costa de Barcelona, Costa Brava and Costa Dorada explains for our blog the perspectives, concerns and strategies to overcome a crisis that Marcos Riboloni describes as “the worst moment in our history”.
- Golden bets strongly on direct sales and counts on our Roomonline Web services, releasing the new Dingus booking engine.
The immediate objectives are to generate customer confidence, maintain all jobs and close the year with the least possible losses. The Sales Manager of Golden Hotels & Experiences answers the questions posed by Dingus at the end of May in a series of interviews with which we want to know the recovery plans of our customers. Marcos Riboloni acknowledges that, in the case of Golden, the success of the reopening depends on international tourism and he attributes the real ‘added value’ of tourism to the team of employees.
How is the current moment, and ultimately the contingency, going for Golden?
For us, as for the rest of the sector, this is undoubtedly the worst moment in our history. We hoteliers have a history of infinite crisis, from the typhus crisis, to the post-Olympics in Barcelona, to the euro, to the 2008 economy, to the Russians, and of course to the non-payment of bankruptcies… and from all of them we have been able to get out and we have learned things. This one has caught us on the wrong foot. We would never have thought that everything would stop, and when you say everything, that’s it.
What are your plans for opening, under what conditions and with what prospects?
We will try to open up, like many of my colleagues, in July with the opening of the borders. Catalonia’s destinations cannot be sustained by national tourism alone as we have a very large number of hotels and rooms. We need the French, the Belgians, the Dutch, the Russians and above all the English. There is still a lot of uncertainty about when flights will resume and under what conditions, as will be the demand, if there will be a new upsurge… The prospects are not good because we have many questions and very few answers.
But do you think it will be possible to ‘save’ the season that, according to the government, will begin this June with national tourism and continue in July with international tourism?
To begin with, since we are talking about the government, I think that this has been one of the worst efforts made in our entire environment. Messages like the one from the Minister of Consumption giving little value to our industry, the creation of quarantines for tourists, not being able to move between provinces, aid to the sector, etc. Everything in general has been managed not badly, but worse. The season is not going to be saved for anyone. In years past we used to talk in these terms about ‘saving the season’ when we had a 70% occupancy rate in July and 85% in August. With these conditions we said that we had saved the season, because it was only good when we did 90% and 95% respectively. Hotel business is good business when we manage to fill hotels, because our prices are tight, because our investments are expensive and because what we pay in taxes is exorbitant, as for the rest of the citizens. On this last point, as an anecdote, with the bankruptcy of Tomas Cook last year, if a hotel was left with 200,000 euros of debt to collect (which it will never collect) we had to pay VAT on those bills to the State, that is, we stopped collecting 200,000 euros and on top of that we paid 20,000 euros of VAT. And there was theoretical help. Well, we don’t know where they went. Well, we do know, but we can’t say.
And for the employees, what has it been like during and will it be like after, from the closing to the adaptation to the new operation, or their involvement in the process?
We have the best possible professionals, not just us, but the rest of my colleagues in the industry. They are currently having a very hard time because as of 30/05 they have not yet received any payment from the ERTE. They are very unmotivated, many of them with serious economic problems and without seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. For our part, when we have a scheduled opening date, we will start 15 days before to update the hotels and train the staff in the necessary protocols to ensure safety. It will be a little more complicated the issue of the Epis for their correct use, but they have a lot of experience and the procedures will be executed perfectly. I would like to highlight from all our team that, although they have had a hard time, or rather, they are having a hard time and will have a hard time in the future, once they enter the hotel they leave their worries outside and will receive all the clients with a positive, happy attitude and with the desire to make their holidays unforgettable. That is the added value of our sector.
Specifically, for customers, what is your message?
There’s only one, a trusted one. We are all working on protocols, on improving our cleaning and disinfections, on developing safe buffets, on creating COVID-free hotels. At this point we also have thousands of problems, because all the messages we receive in a short time contradict each other. We cannot convey to our clients how we will be in two months’ time when the same government changes the protocols from today to tomorrow. Because we have to tell our clients that we will maintain capacity in our pools when perhaps in August the virus will not survive because of the heat… In the 21st century we are still ignorant about many things due to the lack of investment in research, and this has been a 100% health crisis where they have had to stop the whole economy to avoid the collapse of our battered health system. Thanks, as always, to people like nurses, doctors, assistants… who have been able to save it, but at the cost of more than 50,000 infected people. What message can we send to our clients if the government does not give the same message of tranquillity, coordination and support to the sector?.
A words of thanks to employees and suppliers
The most worrying thing for us is the 800 people who work at Golden Hotels and therefore the 800 families who depend on us. Our management team is working hard to restore normality and to reopen the hotels in order to provide work for all these people. A hotel is extremely complex because it covers many areas of action: kitchens, gastronomy, swimming pools, accommodation, services, technology, etc. and nearly 300 different companies collaborate with us, offering us their services, which have also had a hard time. I would like to thank all of them for their efforts to make Golden Hotels able to offer their services and give work to all their employees, and among them is Dingus. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Golden Hotels is one of the clients of Dingus that clearly bets on direct sales, and you are users of our services of Roomonline Web. Besides, you have just launched our new booking engine. And all this in these complicated weeks. So the customer/supplier relationship has been maintained during the crisis and for everyone in the company it is important to know your assessment…
“Our communication with Dingus has not stopped for a single second. Dingus has also had to adapt to teleworking and therefore has had limitations, like all of us, but they have always been there. This moment has coincided with the implementation of the new website and the new booking engine together with the Loyalty programme. The technology we apply in our information and booking systems cannot stop and our clients always want the latest. And there Dingus is doing a great job”.
Marcos Riboloni. Sales Manager Golden Hotels & Experiences