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Ahead slowly… almost back

Di Antonio Caneva English translation Paola Pr, 26 Ottobre 2001

I met the managers of a few important international hotels, and we discussed the 11th of September and the events that followed. I was struck by the comments of the majority of them, who said that the Towers had just barely collapsed, when they received the first instructions from their headquarters – cut costs drastically. There followed an analysis of the types of costs to be cut: flowers, gadgets, personnel that was not strictly necessary, photocopies, etc. – practically everything. The following step had been to assess what actions were to be undertaken in order to reduce the negative effects, and here – once again – the consensus was almost unanimous: not to reduce prices, and implement more careful and aggressive marketing policies. I think there is some inconsistency between the decision to reduce the quality of service (because this is what a cut in costs ultimately comes down to) with the stated intention not to reduce prices. Quality hotels are such precisely because they provide (or should provide) services adequate to the prices they charge, and it is hard to reconcile their prices with a downgrading of service. The declared intention not to reduce prices does not accurately reflect reality either, as our discussion reveals the existence of various forms of promotions which are in fact price discounts; how else could one define the offer not to charge customers for bookings that have already been confirmed? Costs, prices and marketing strategies are the themes around which new policies are currently being developed, in response to a sudden and unprecedented change of scenario. The speed of change has given rise to uncertainty and disorientation among operators – including ourselves – who are torn between discouragement and the impulse to react: the contradictions we are currently witnessing are the direct and inevitable consequence of this.

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