Dan Hotels set to reopen

Ronen Nissenbaum  / Photo: PR

CEO Ronen Nissenbaum is banking on domestic tourism and says prices are 20% lower than last year.

Dan Hotels Corp. Ltd. (TASE: DANH) is set to reopen the chain as the coronavirus outbreak fades. The Dan Eilat and Dan Caesarea will open at the end of the month for the Shavuot holiday in line with Ministry of Health regulations and the internal cleaning standards of the chain.

The chain is well aware that the hospitality experience in the post-coronavirus era will be very different from what it was previously. There will be a major emphasis on cleanliness and hygiene. Dan Hotels CEO Ronen Nissenbaum says that most enquiries to the chain's call center are about ways in which the hotels are cleaned and disinfected.

Preparations for the chain's reopening include disinfecting all public spaces and rooms, keys for the room will already be disinfected and waiting in an envelope for guests at reception when they arrive. All guests entering the hotel will have their temperature taken and will be taken for further tests if their temperature is over 37.8°C. If it is confirmed that a guest has a fever they will not be allowed in the hotel.

All guests will also sign a health declaration and will be provided with masks and a disinfectant kit in their room. A special app will allow check-in and check-out, opening doors and making payments.

Nissenbaum told "Globes," "The coronavirus has changed the world as well as our work methods. Many of the demands come from the guests. Together with the opening up of the market and businesses and people leaving their homes, over the past week we have felt a rise in tens of percentage points in enquiries at our booking call centers. The desire for a vacation combined with the restrictions on traveling abroad, are creating demand that there wasn't previously."

"We are not getting euphoric and thinking that the hotels will be full by June, but there is an urge to get things going again. There isn't an enquiry without asking about strictness in cleaning and how temperatures are taken. Others ask if the swimming pool will be open and how food will be served in the dining room."

"It's critical. We have asked the Ministry of Health to bring forward new instructions by several days so that we can host guests on Shavuot. If we don't get approval then we'll have to postpone opening by a week."

Eating in hotels will also be a different experience. "We are waiting for instructions about how many meters we will need to keep between guests in the dining room, and what will be the distance between seats. For the past month we have been preparing all sorts of ideas about serving the meals. Instead of a buffet there will be points where food will be served to guests, or we'll prepare plates with portions ready on them."

The Dan Eilat has 375 rooms. Isn't there a concern about crowding?

"No. This is a question that isn't asked. Regarding the swimming pool as well, ultimately people can practice their own social distancing whether it is swimming in the pool or at the beach. The only one asking about crowding is the Ministry of Health. If demand continues on the lines that it is today and the infection statistics continue the trend of improvement, then we will bring forward the opening of the Dan Panorama and Neptune Eilat to the end of June.

You're describing measures that involve costs in staffing, for example serving food in rooms. Will this influence the price?

"Getting ready and complying with instructions involves many costs but our aim is to get the engine running. We will meet the requirements even if profitability will be lower. We're also used to people always complaining about prices in Israel despite the high costs for hotels in Israel, regardless of the coronavirus."

"On the one hand there is pressure that the new costs should be reflected in the price, but on the other hand there is pressure to cut prices to encourage guests to come. The focus is on opening up, to bring back 200-300 employees and see how things work out, and if we can maintain the balance or keep our noses above the water according to demand and supply. We'll learn over the next month or two and according to that we'll plan our price levels."

"At this stage we are at price levels that reflect a 20% discount compared with last year. That's to let people take a vacation and clean out their heads. We have to worry about disinfecting, cleaning and good hygiene and service. We don't expect to bring back the tourism market to the level before the coronavirus but at least we will move it forward."

"If we see that the trend we are experiencing now continues, there is a chance that we will increase the rate of opening hotels in regions identified with domestic tourism. The Dan Accadia hotel (in Herzliya), for example, which is built for 50% foreign tourism and 50% domestic tourism, it still isn't worth opening. Here we are dependent on foreign tourism, which depends on government agreements. We are receiving signs of flights resuming with the airlines showing interest in hotels for their flight crews. What will dictate the opening of our other hotels is the opening of the skies."

Throughout the crisis, the Dan Tel Aviv remained open (among other things to host the few flight crews from abroad landing in Israel), while the Dan Panorama Tel Aviv and Dan Panorama Jerusalem served as hotels for Covid-19 patients. How will these hotels return to action?

"Both hotels that served virus carriers then served people in self-isolation. If the Ministry of Health trusted us during the transition from hosting people who were sick and then people who were healthy who needed isolation, that's a kashrut certificate from our point of view. That's a strong statement about how much they trust us."

"Despite taking on the task, we knew that there would be a certain price and we'll have to cope with that. It's clear that there is an emotional side for vacationers about these two hotels and we will work on that in the future to reduce the stigma and open up these hotels for guests."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on May 18, 2020

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2020

Ronen Nissenbaum  / Photo: PR
Ronen Nissenbaum / Photo: PR
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