Johor hospitality sector all smiles as travel curbs lifted

Asia's Tech News Daily

© Provided by New Straits Times

JOHOR BARU: The sap is once again flowing in the veins of the hospitality sector in Johor, with the lifting of the interstate travel curbs on Oct 12.

Johor hotels, dormant for 20 months from Covid-19 induced restrictions, are now buoyant from a booking surge following the increase in overall business activity.

“This resumption of interstate travel and the accompanying increase in the tempo of business activity could not have come earlier,” said Ivan Teo, chairman of Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Johor Chapter.

“Hotels are reporting a surge in bookings, especially by families intent on reunions and other gatherings which were suspended during the lockdowns,” he explained.

“It’s as if domestic tourists are coming back with a vengeance after enduring long months of isolation because of Covid-19 restrictions.

“They will find hotel rates a little higher because of the cost of implementation of SOPs but this is necessary to ensure that there is no spike in Covid cases due to the resumption of tourism and business activities,” Teo elaborated.

Not surprisingly, the hotels that are poised to cope with the surge in bookings are the ones that did not retrench staff during the period of the lockdowns.

Callie Tan, group general manager of Good Hope Hotel, said they kept the hotel open throughout the Covid-19 restrictions.

“We have not retrenched staff as we operated during the MCO (Movement Control Order) lockdown,” she said.

“We do not have to recruit or train anyone because we kept all our staff and now they are ready to move with the increased tempo of business,” added Callie.

Similarly, Suasana Suites Hotel tackled the slowdown in bookings during the Covid-19 beset period with package deals to guests who had been vaccinated.

“That measure saw to it that our occupancy was fairly good compared to surrounding hotels,” said Ng Siew Koon, chief executive officer of Suasana Suites.

“As we have been operating as a multi-skilled organisation and with minimum manning, we were able cope better than most. Our only challenge now is retaining our present all rounded associates from being approached by other hotels struggling to cope with sudden surge in occupancy and have to adapt to new way of working to stay profitable,” said Ng.

However, she anticipates a shortage of housekeeping cleaners.

“Most hotels were using foreign contract labour through agents. During the MCO most hotels canceled their contracts and agents had to send their staff home and they are unable to return that fast. Agents do not have enough labour to supply at this moment,” she remarked.

“It will be costly and I foresee cleanliness may be an issue for most hotels for the time being. We are recruiting F&B personnel that we had put on hold previously.

“Fortunately, we did not retrench any associates since MCO 1. Instead we kept everyone employed, by scheduling our associates to go on no-pay leave by rotation. With better room occupancy and better F&B business, we are reinstating everyone back to work full-time as normal with full pay,” said Ng.

At Pulai Springs Resort, general manager Sunny Soo said his organisation had to retrench staff in the F&B and housekeeping departments during the lockdown.

“We could not help it as business was slow and we had five swimming pools and a lot of space to maintain,” he explained.

“Retrenchment was the only way to cope with the poor business environment. We let the retrenched staff know that once things return to normal, we will take them in provided they have not been employed elsewhere,” he said.

“At Pulai Springs Resort, we believe in teamwork. We desire to make our guests leave the place with a memorable experience.

“With the surge in bookings, we are looking to get back all our previous staff back and working at our forte which is to make guests happy with their stay at our resort,” he enthused.

© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd

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