Malaysian hospitality players on reorienting the business of hotels

As the MCO is eased and businesses start to reopen, some major players offer a glimpse into the current scenario.

From left: Yap Lip Seng (MAH CEO); Robert Lagerwey (EQ general manager); Gareth Lim (Ormond Group CEO); Ivan Khoo (Edison Hotel general manager) and Markus Engel (Urban Resort Concepts CEO)

The travel industry has easily been the worst hit by the fallout from the global Covid-19 pandemic.Its effects are now said to be worse than those of 9/11, SARS and the financial crisis of 2008. According to OAG Aviation Worldwide, the travel restrictions on international flights have caused the global airline industry to lose up to US$880 billion (RM3.8 trillion). In tandem with that, hotels are empty and looking to fill their once-bustling lobbies and rooms.

In Malaysia, many hotels in smaller towns such as Ipoh and Penang have closed down, unable to bear operational costs as there is virtually no income. The harsh reality is that up to 15% of hotels may be forced to call it a day, according to a survey by the Malaysian Association of Hotels updated on April 24, as the average occupancy rate plunges to a dismal 25.41% this year.

Although no closure of major hotels has been reported in Kuala Lumpur, the situation is dire and needs to be addressed immediately. The only way forward is to adapt. In the gradual relaxation of the Movement Control Order (MCO), hotels have started to weave significant adjustments into their offerings in anticipation of the pandemic’s aftermath. Survivors are coping by implementing drastic measures in daily operations as well as structural changes to their workforce.


Challenge in opening doors

For hotels to keep their status as approved essential services according to government guidelines, the first order of the day is stringent sanitisation habits. Established hotels are emphasising their commitment to a strict level of hygiene, cleanliness and safety.

Such is expected of a five-star business hotel like EQ Kuala Lumpur, whose strategy offers a glimpse into the category’s playing field.

When the 52-storey incarnation of the original Hotel Equatorial opened last year, business grew quickly but came to a screeching halt as nations went into lockdown.

Besides cost cuts and voluntary initiatives with employees and partners, EQ is contriving new ways to drive business forward.



For the full story, pick up a copy of The Edge Malaysia (May 18, 2020) at your nearest news stand. Save by subscribing to us for your print and/or digital copy.

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