As part of an industry that’s resilient and adaptable, Graeme Davis, President at Baha Mar, is confident that travel will prevail once again.
“Travel will look different as we head towards the early recovery phases in the near future. And, through these changes, travellers will need to feel comfortable with both how they travel and where they travel,” Davis tells Travel Courier. “At Baha Mar, that means new ways to maintain social distance, heightened sanitation processes and increased cleaning, evolving the ways our associates interact with guests and more. But at the heart of travel is the cherished experience that each new trip will bring, and that will not change.”
Privacy will be more important than ever, he says noting that Baha Mar will focus on its intimate experiences like spacious cabanas at The Baha Bay Beach Club, options for outdoor dining, private art classes at The Current and intimate encounters with the property’s flamingos and nurse sharks.
“We are focusing on how we can best provide our guests with physically distanced experiences that while naturally designed into the resort destination, have been reimagined through the lens of social distance and safety,” he says.
Davis believes technology may be one of the greatest advantages to impact hotels with the ability to check into guest rooms, open doors, and sign for cheques by scanning a RFID bracelet.
“Service post COVID-19 will be different, not just in terms of safety protocols but in maintaining warmth and connection between associates and guests, which The Bahamas has always been known for throughout the years,” he says. “Our associates will now smile with their eyes and the need to connect emotionally with our guests, even from six feet apart, will be at the core of our training as we look ahead.”
At Baha Mar, one of the biggest ongoing challenges is the constant evolution of information with regards to COVID-19, and planning and projecting business needs, along with its partners, against an ever-moving target.
“In the travel industry, that poises the unique challenge of preparing for an opening without clear projection of what demand will look like,” he adds. “We are also challenged with the delicate balance of taking care of our associates’ well-being while considering overall business needs.”
In order to maintain consumer confidence in travelling again, he says frequent and transparent communication, like spreading the word about its comprehensive health and safety program with future guests, is key.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic is new to everyone, for longtime hoteliers in The Caribbean, this is not our first closure due to matters beyond our control. The Caribbean is a resilient destination that historically faces crises,” he says. “The hospitality industry in the Caribbean has always been successful in effectively communicating with guests and employees within a changing landscape, and has demonstrated that informative, direct and frequent communication with our associates, future guests, local government, and the overall community, builds up consumer confidence in returning each season.”
Baha Mar, which ensured full-time associates received the equivalent of 40% of their base pay for up to 90 days during the crisis, is also taking the projected needs of future travellers into consideration.
“From refunding deposits for stays, greatly increasing our already high standards for cleanliness and sanitation to ensure the safest spaces, and enacting a new cancellation policy enabling cancelations up until 24 hours prior to arrival,” he adds.
As a destination resort, he says during this time it is imperative to work in collaboration with partners across tourism and destination marketing.
“We’re in consistent communication with the tourism and airline partners in The Bahamas and globally to develop reopening plans together that will ensure a collaborated effort that’s timed safely for international travellers and The Bahamas,” he says. “The success of The Bahamas and the success of Baha Mar are one and the same.”