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  • Writer's pictureVivian Li

Hospitality is Going, Going, Gone

It’s Wednesday, 6:30 in the morning, and Trisha Shum reluctantly rolls out of bed. It’s just another day in COVID, she thought. During the last few months, Macau has gone through a lot of changes. Namely the drastic reduction in tourists and interaction with clients, at the hotel she works at. Every morning she reflects on the times when it was simpler, and when there wasn’t a pandemic getting in the way of everything. Shum would have been proud, landing the position of director of human resources, at the City of Dreams Macau, a luxury casino hotel in the ‘Las Vegas of Asia’, she thought to herself. If it was any other time, she would have doused herself in pride, but now she feels a confusing unease, that she has never felt before.

She takes a shower, makes herself a cup of coffee, and brushes her teeth. She puts on an olive green satin pleated dress, a few spritzes of Black Opium by Yves Saint Laurent (YSL), and goes to work. As her Christian Louboutin heels tip and tap on the way to work, she wonders why she even bothers to dress how she used to, as the only people she’ll greet are the handful of coworkers that are fortunate enough, to still be employed by the hotel. Shum gets to the lobby and remembers the moments when she would be greeted by the flocks of tourists, the sights and sounds of happy-go-lucky high rollers, and hotel guests that were having the time of their lives. Now, all she hears are the echoes of her shoes in the hotel’s empty marble hallways and the memory of what used to be.

As she takes the elevators up to her office she asks herself one question, that has been on her mind almost every single day since, the coronavirus has hit Macau, “how will hospitality look like in the future?”


To Shum, she feels that the future is “unpredictable” at the moment, because “it can go both ways.” She explains that people will either travel at the first opportunity they get or reflecting on herself, “will try to retain the stability they lost during the pandemic.” For Shum, the latter options seem more probable, and so “it will be a while before the hospitality industry, in Macau, picks up again,” says Shum.

As a native Hong Kong citizen, and although there may not be cold hard evidence, Shum explains that Chinese people need to “have extra cash, of course, but need to also feel good and happy before they spend money.” This can suggest an inner emotional issue that the pandemic has caused, in their willingness to spend money on leisure and travel, explains Shum.


“The hospitality industry is disintegrating as we speak,” Emil Lindkvist says. A hospitality school graduate that was working in a restaurant in Munich, Germany, had his contract terminated. Due to the travel bans and countries refusing to open borders, because of COVID-19, “anything that has got to do with hospitality, directly or indirectly, are affected,” says Lindkvist. He believes that anything that is in the realm of hospitality like “restaurants, airports, and hotels, are in big trouble.”

For Lindkvist, he shares the same uncertainty that Shum does, he describes his ‘normal’ nowadays has shifted from going out regularly, to staying home, and only going out when necessary. He talked about his experience talking to a lot of people that came from the Ivory Coast and the Caribbean to Hong Kong and Lebanon, to Australia and Iceland. “Hospitality used to be about service,” Lindkvist says, “showing what people are missing out on and giving guests experiences that they’d never have otherwise.”


In comparison, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP) a local English-written Hong Kong-based newspaper, Hong Kong welcomes 3.49 million people a year before 2020. The sudden 96.4% drop this year has made many people in the hospitality industry like Shum and Lindkvist, to question the certainty in their future.

Lindkvist feels uncomfortable with his future in hospitality, as he says, “I am a lot more comfortable spending excessive amounts of time at home now than I ever had.” Lindkvist wonders if people, other than going on holiday or traveling for work, “would ever want to leave the comforts of home,” anymore. With this in mind, and with Shum’s perspective on the emotional response people need, this also supports an idea that hospitality may never return, to how it used to be at all.


Mike Shen, another hospitality graduate feels that with the global travel ban, and emotional baggage, travel has on people right now, “it doesn’t look like people are going to travel anywhere anytime soon,” or at least until the coronavirus is out of the way. Shen is predicting that “hotels now will be much more competitive than they used to be, and will be desperate for revenue.” To support Shen’s predictions, the United States’ American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) show that the hotels in the U.S. have lost more than $40 billion in room revenue, and based on the current occupancy rates and revenue trends, the AHLA is forecasting a loss of $400 million per day, in the next few months.

A traveler from Hong Kong that frequently travels to San Francisco to see her family, Betty Ma that says that the “hospitality industry will change drastically.” Ma knows that the hospitality industry is very competitive,” and will be very difficult to be unique when “everyone is fighting against one another to gain revenue that they’ve lost.” And, from the AHLA, the hospitality sector as a whole industry, has already lost $16.8 billion up until this month.

Additionally, with 39% unemployment in the hospitality industry, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, this equals to 4.86 million people, with little to no income, in the just the United States alone. This may suggest, the future for all these people, seem very uncertain.

As far as hotels go, they are still going through preparations to welcome guests at the same occupancy rate, that they had before the pandemic. Lindkvist used to believe that hospitality was stable and concrete, now he is “not so sure,” Ma went on and said, “the golden age of travel is over.” Shen questions the reputation that the hospitality industry used to carry, and Shum asks whether if hospitality “will ever be the same.” 



Read the story on Medium by clicking the link here

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