Hotels stay resilient amid Covid-19 pandemic; hospitality staff honoured for service

SINGAPORE – Even with Singapore’s visitor arrivals plummeting to the lowest in about four decades due to the Covid-19 pandemic, hotels have remained resilient, taking on new roles and catering to new demands.

Operating as venues for those serving stay-home notice (SHN), offering staycations and work-from-hotel packages, and redeploying staff to other roles were some of the ways hotels adapted to adversity, said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan on Wednesday (March 10).

As at the end of last year, more than 70 hotels had welcomed over 160,000 guests serving SHN, with the support of over 2,300 workers in the hotel industry, he added.

Other hotels took the chance to upskill and train their staff during this lull period, reflecting the value they placed on their workers.

“Such commitment to self-improvement will continue to reap rewards,” Mr Tan said.

He was speaking at the National Kindness Awards – Service Gold ceremony, where 120 hospitality staff from 68 hotels were recognised for their outstanding service.

One of the award winners is Mr Mohammad Nurul Amin Mohsinul Azam, 36, who is from Bangladesh and a junior supervisor at the Conrad Centennial Singapore.

Being fluent in Bengali, Mr Amin translated letters and signages in the hotel for Bangladeshi guests who were under quarantine. For instance, he informed them that they had to take their temperature and download the TraceTogether app.

His enthusiasm did not waver even with the death of his mother last year. Mr Amin was unable to be at the funeral due to travel restrictions.

“We have a responsibility to both our jobs and our family. I could not go back but I prayed for her,” he said.

Noting that many hotel employees such as Mr Amin have been separated by borders from their families, Mr Tan recognised the sacrifices they made to continue serving guests.

The staff have also taken on new duties, such as hotel managers doubling up as servers in food and beverage roles, or event management staff assisting with bartending.

“These are measures that our hotels had to undertake in order to open up and deliver a positive guest experience,” said Mr Tan.

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In its 26th edition, the Service Gold award is organised by the Singapore Kindness Movement and Singapore Hotel Association. This year’s ceremony was held at Furama Riverfront Hotel.

During the event, hoteliers shared how they adapted their operations to serve Singaporeans as more of them have gone on staycations since phase three began on Dec 28.

General manager Tarun Kalra of The Warehouse Hotel noted how over 40 high touch points identified in the hotel had to be cleaned regularly to provide guests with a safe environment.

Ms Jacqueline Poey, hotel manager of Fairmont Singapore and Swissôtel The Stamford,  told reporters that the hotels now offer contactless check-in, reducing check-in times and contact between staff and guests.

“There is a separate queue for mobile check-ins… Normally a check-in is between three to five minutes, but right now, a (mobile) check-in is less than one minute,” she said.

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