by Roger Harrold
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to the concept of government-mandated quarantine or self-isolation, aimed at protecting a country’s population and health care system. It is predicted to be a mainstay in the post-coronavirus landscape in the years to come.
In Singapore, individuals required to serve the mandatory quarantine must do so for 14 days either at home with a tracking device or in a designated facility.
Upon arrival in Changi Airport and leaving the terminal in a bus, the individual is informed of which designated facility they will be staying in.
The person will then be allocated a room with a one-way key for access at the designated hotel — this is arguably not a great thing to look forward to in a country that prides itself on its tourism industry.
Providers in countries with low rates of infection presently such as Singapore can do more to help make mandatory quarantine a better experience. This requires hotels and airlines to work together with governments to enable individuals to obtain better options and treatment at dedicated facilities.
All providers need to remember that at some point, clients have other choices. A bad experience at a quality quarantine hotel may well resonate badly in future visits –- this is especially the case for 4-star or 5-star hotels. What appears to be good money from travellers serving quarantine in a bid to replace guests booking the hotels for leisure or business is not a panacea to the problem of decreased capacity.
So what can and should be done to tackle this issue?
The traveller should be treated as a guest. Guests should want to serve their quarantine in the best locations offering the best services.
Simple starting examples could include measures such as:
- Allocating certain floors with facilities such as a small restaurant, a coffee shop and healthcare store exclusively for individuals serving mandatory quarantine, which will allow clients to move around rather than just limiting them to their rooms; and
- Offering services for wellbeing such as spa treatments to those serving mandatory quarantine with proper safe distancing guidelines and standard operating procedures;
- Building spaces to allow meetings and events to take place in safe surroundings so that those in quarantine could attend. Creating designated meeting points and facilities for corporate gatherings and deal-making as well as entertainment is possible with modern materials;
- Introducing a tier system for guests, akin to those used in airlines with suitable fees attached allows providers to differentiate themselves from their competitors and earn from premium services;
- Organising excursions and trips in self-contained buses around town to allow travellers to see more of Singapore beyond their own hotel rooms at some point during the 14-day period.
In conclusion, greater creativity is needed on the part of service providers in developing solutions to enhance the mandatory quarantine experience.