Resorts must ‘connect philosophy with operations’

“Humans are hard wired - normality is habitual and we're seeing people flood back to normality very quickly” said Roger Allen, founder and group CEO of Resources for Leisure Assets (RLA) during this week’s In Focus podcast for Hospitality Insights.

Allen believes the path ahead is becoming more predictable and as the restrictions are eased, consumers are showing less of a regard for internal factors such as the heightened need for hygiene and social spacing and external factors such as the impact on consumer spending and the inability to travel due to restrictions on airlift are what is influencing the return to the real economy.

Turning to resorts and their position in the recovery mix, Allen said: “Resort recovery is dependent on product, the guest profile and the location. With the currently unknown status of airlift, resorts that can serve local or neighbouring markets where access is not airline dependent could do very well this year.”

Responding to whether resorts and hotels will embrace trends around wellness, community and connectivity, Allen said: “Pre-coronavirus it was always considered that resorts needed to be more adaptive and flexible and owners should be looking to employ a more traditional retail model and maximise revenue per square metre. This has been further re-enforced during the pandemic. Whichever elements resorts and hotels chose to include in their product, it must be true to their DNA, be authentic and connect philosophy with operations rather than adapting to trends that come and go.”

On investment opportunities and fire sales, Allen feels that this is dependent on whether there is a summer season and how stable businesses are when the respective government assistance ends. “We haven’t seen any acquisitions or fire sales in the industry, but I believe it is round the corner.”

His hopes for the sector in a post COVID-19 world include improved partnerships between owners and operators that have been fractured during the crisis and a continuation of the philosophical and purposeful outlook adopted by individuals and society during the crisis.

Concluding Allen said: “Resorts are built on delivering an experiential promise and delivering memories. I think it’s vital for resorts to be philosophical in the message they deliver. Will that continue as resorts start to open, normality resumes and we focus on numbers and heads in beds without a greater sense of purpose? I hope so.”

Roger will be moderating the CEO Panel: Re-Building the Leisure Hospitality Experience during the Resort & Residential Hospitality Forum taking place later this year. For more information on this event, please visit www.hospitalityinsights.com/randr