How Hong Kong prevented SARS epidemic successfully in the past and what we could learn from it

From the beginning of January 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic is the first one that seriously affects the hotel industry in Vietnam. Although there is no experience in dealing with infectous diseases before, we can refer to the lessons learned from the SARS epidemic in 2003 by the hotel industry in Hong Kong to learn from.

Although the SARS epidemic only happened for a short time, it still had a heavy impact on the growth of hotel industry in Hong Kong. Immediately following the World Organization’s (WHO) travel restriction warning, tourist arrivals to Hong Kong plummeted 57.9% between April and June 2003.
To survive, Hong Kong hotels had to implement a variety of cost-effective strategies, and innovated short-term services to boost business.

In a cost-saving strategy, most hotels suspended large-scale renovation and repair projects. Most simple tasks that were previously assigned to contractors were previously transferred to hotel staff for cross training. Many hotels also stopped serving buffets to reduce costs, and reduce the number of lifts operating to save electricity and maintenance costs. Despite cancellations, hotels maintain good rapport with guests through courteous calls and emails to report their efforts during the crisis. Promotion programs with many priority services are also introduced to loyal customers.
With conference rooms vacant, hotels turn into temporary offices for business customers. The marketing campaigns also focus on domestic customers, launching a variety of intriguing home dining programs offered by five-star hotel chefs.

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