Hotels shut floors, ask staff to take leave amid downturn

Hotels in Singapore have adopted cost-cutting measures as occupancy plummets amid the virus outbreak, including sending staff for training during the lull and shortening hours for services such as in-room dining. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
Hotels in Singapore have adopted cost-cutting measures as occupancy plummets amid the virus outbreak, including sending staff for training during the lull and shortening hours for services such as in-room dining.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Hotels are moving fast to tackle the downturn with one mothballing some floors to save on electricity and manpower and another telling staff to use two-thirds of their annual leave by the end of May due to the lack of guests.

Other cost-cutting measures are being deployed as well, including reducing restaurant opening hours and shortening times for services such as in-room dining.

With occupancy plummeting from almost 100 per cent to roughly 30 to 60 per cent in the past two months, cost-cutting has become essential.

About six of the 16 floors at Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay have been closed off in order to concentrate manpower efforts on fewer rooms and save electricity.

General manager Melvin Lim added that staff have also been encouraged to clear their annual leave or take voluntary no-pay leave.

Two of the hotel's restaurants - Peach Blossoms and Atrium Lounge - have also had their opening hours shortened.

Room service, usually offered round the clock, is now available from 7am to 10.30pm.

Staff at Royal Plaza on Scotts must take two-thirds of their annual leave by the end of May.

General manager Patrick Fiat said: "We believe the recovery should start after May. Hopefully the rebound will be strong to make up for lost business in the past months."

 
 
 
 

The hotel has also cut down on outsourcing certain jobs. The housekeeping team, for example, is taking on additional tasks such as uniform cleaning that was previously outsourced to external suppliers.

Mr Fiat said the hotel also plans to send staff for training during the lull, a move that is in line with recent measures announced by various government agencies.

Workforce Singapore's Job Redesign Place-and-Train programme gives hotels salary support of up to 70 per cent, capped at $2,000 a month per employee for up to six months.

Singapore Hotel Association (SHA) executive director Margaret Heng said: "Members may tap salary funding support to transform jobs and invest in training of their workers in the redesigned job roles during this period."

She noted that Parkroyal on Kitchener Road and Copthorne King's Hotel are taking part in the Workforce Singapore programme.

Ms Heng added: "SHA will endeavour to work with the industry to upskill and reskill workers in preparation for the upturn."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 28, 2020, with the headline 'Hotels shut floors, ask staff to take leave amid downturn'. Print Edition | Subscribe