Interview Carlos Diago, GM – Hotel Decameron Panama
VISIT LATIN AMERICA: Could you briefly introduce the DECAMERON HOTELS group to us?
We are leaders in the “sun, beach and leisure” offer in the Caribbean and the Pacific coasts; we were also pioneers in ecotourism in the “All-Inclusive” sector and today offer the best products in this field. We are also developing hotel projects in the corporate segment in the city, with projects such as the Radisson Hotel in Lima and the Aloft Hotels in San José, Costa Rica, and Bogota. We have 7,403 rooms in 31 hotels in 9 countries.
VLA: How did the group deal with this crisis from the start?
Our group has taken several measures: first, we have closed our hotels in order to restructure our operations and ensure the safety of our employees and our customers. We have entrusted a small group of our employees with preventive actions and safety at the level of the installations.
Then, we gave priority to our team of collaborators. Our group has made great efforts to maintain 100% of the jobs of our staff by avoiding laying them off. We understand that the issue of sustainability starts at home and that the best way to support the recommendations of the World Health Organization -WHO- is to stay at home and guarantee our team their income and their jobs.
In order to support the recommendations of the health authorities promoting the implementation of teleworking in the administrative part, we have put in place preventive measures and created the team that takes care of the maintenance and safety of the hotel. We have also worked a lot on the standards for managing this pandemic with the support of an external company and following the recommendations of the WHO, local authorities, and the World Travel and Tourism Council. We will gradually reopen and guarantee the safety of our employees and our guests.
VLA: How were these measures implemented in Panama?
In addition to the guidelines of our group, each country must first comply with local protocols. In our case, we have added pandemic management to our crisis and emergency management committee. This work is hard and detailed but very comprehensive. Currently, we have formed a committee for the implementation of all biosafety protocols.
VLA: We have information on the great support work that the DECAMERON hotel in Panama has carried out in favor of the health authorities, what can you tell us?
Our hotel has been an ally of the Panamanian government in Coclé province, becoming a quarantine facility for people with Covid-19 who do not have medical complications. This work is important because it aligns with the values and mission of our company, whose support for the community is a key part of our sustainability plan.
Our support for the government has lasted a little over two months and, together with the Ministry of Health, we will endeavor to allow the hotel to open as soon as possible. We received over 400 patients at the hotel during this time.
VLA: How do you see the reactivation of tourism and the application of health measures that will provide security to your customers?
This is a very difficult and unprecedented question. The revival of tourism will take place in several stages. First, local tourism will be activated, then with the opening of airports and borders, we will have a mix of markets that will gradually become the norm.
Our group will open with a protocol that guarantees the safety of our employees and guests. All areas of the hotel will be changed depending on the situation, and along with the hotel protocol, we will abide by the measures requested by the government of Panama.
Currently, we have already implemented a large number of these protocols and the result has been very good.
VLA: What future do you see for the “all inclusive” hotel business model?
The “all-inclusive” business model will continue to be sought after by customers. We will have to make adjustments, but our concept has evolved a lot in recent years. It’s amazing how big chains have innovated with the “all inclusive” concept as a response to customer demand.
We must keep in mind that the changes made to the “All Inclusive” model, in terms of the implementation of physical distancing measures and customer care will be temporary, because at the end of the current crisis, practices usual of the traditional “All Inclusive” can be taken.
VLA: What message would you like to send to loyal customers of DECAMERON Panama and the other hotels in the chain?
We can assure them that we will maintain our highest standards of quality, safety and hygiene, as well as the requirements that the health authorities impose on us, so that they feel comfortable in an environment made for the enjoyment of hosts.
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