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Hotel Bytes

Doing business unusual

The hotel and resort industry was one of the hardest hit sectors when President Duterte announced that the entire island of Luzon would be placed under enhanced community quarantine for about a month starting March 17, 2020. The industry had no other choice but to send home their remaining guests and to close shop under a cloud of uncertainty.

To help our colleagues in this time of crisis, we the members of the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) came up with the idea of putting up an e-store where our members can sell anything so that they would have a source of income.

HSMA is at the forefront of providing hotel sales and marketing professionals with tools, insights and expertise to move their brand and remain current in the ever-evolving hotels and resorts industry. It was organized in 1979 from the informal gatherings of the directors of sales and marketing of the top hotels in Metro Manila. HSMA has grown in membership and stature as a work oriented and apolitical organization that is committed to promote the Philippines and its member properties. Its roster of members counts over 120 hotels and resort properties nationwide as of end 2019.

This e-store will allow our members to sell their products which range from food items like banana cake, longganisa, steak, eggs, sanitizing kits, alcohol, asks, face shields, PPE or personal protective equipment, among others. Once the e-store was set up, we invited our friends, travel agents, Department of Tourism, Tourism Promotions Board employees and organizations to visit the store and to solicit their help in these challenging times.

We invited visitors to the e-store to “join us in doing business unusual.” This is a new mindset to make space for new ways of doing things and to move forward. It is the hotelier’s way of adapting in pursuit of survival amidst the challenges of the pandemic. We, however, cannot do it alone and we need your help. When you buy from our e-store, you help displaced hoteliers and their families. Keep your hoteliers afloat and help bridge them back to their jobs when things stabilize. Shop now!

The response to the e-store has been overwhelming. The feedback I got from our members is that they have been able to sell their items and they were lucky enough to have repeat business. I am not surprised by this because hoteliers are excellent when it comes to customer service and that is the reason why they are being recruited by other industries like BPOs or business process outsourcing, telecommunications and banks.

For us hoteliers, this e-store is our new normal for the time being. We do not sell rooms, function venues, food and beverage and they no longer attend social functions. We now sell essential items like food and face masks and our customers receive service deluxe a la HSMA.

While selling our wares, we also make sure that we are updated with the developments in the tourism industry. We all need to adapt to the new sanitary codes so that we are protected from the COVID-19 virus as some of the hotel sales and marketing staff are expected to report for work soon. Wearing of the proper face mask, face shield, washing our hands for 20 seconds and sanitizing is strictly mandated to protect us, our colleagues, clients and our family.

The DOT has been harnessing the skills of people in the tourism industry through webinars, our mental vitamins to keep up abreast of what is happening locally and internationally. HSMA likewise provides learning webinars and virtual meetings so that we are updated on the steps to be taken as we slowly move into the working environment of doing business.

We were part of the working group that crafted the health and sanitation guidelines that were submitted to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases or IATF for their approval. We were also part of the team that came up with the stimulus package for tourism enterprises.

As you can see HSMA has been very busy and we are very hopeful that the hotel and resorts industry will be back very soon. In the meantime, please continue to support HSMA’s e-store. Remember that when you buy from our e-store, you will help our displaced hoteliers and their families.

By Christine Ann Ibarreta

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