10 Mar 2021 4650
PortoBay Hotels & Resorts PortoBay Hotels & Resorts
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Greater Versatility, Mobility and Loyalty

Versatility, mobility and loyalty! These are the priority concepts and the path set out by the Chairman and CEO of PortoBay Hotels & Resorts to embrace the recovery and the future of this hotel group. 

IN: Tourism has been recognised as one of the sectors most seriously affected by the pandemic. What impact is it having on PortoBay’s day-to-day life?

AT: As we all know, the impact has been considerable, and the tourism sector is at the end of the queue for recovery. Not only are we dependent on the situation in the different countries where we are located, but we are fundamentally dependent on the epidemiological situation in our various source markets.

The combination of epidemiological outbreaks and the lack of vaccination has forced us to close down different hotel operations for some time, with no opportunity to find revenue-generating alternatives.

That is why Porto Bay’s resilience is closely linked to the solidity of our financial structure. This has enabled us to keep part of our hotel operation running, in the knowledge that in the next recovery we will find it much easier to reopen some hotels, and present ourselves to the market in conditions that are at least identical to those that existed when we had to close them.

How has the PortoBay team adapted to these new circumstances?

Firstly, and from the very first phase in 2020, we kept our maintenance procedures running in all our hotels. We have been in contact with all our teams to explain the challenges of the situation, and to give them the necessary reassurance to cope with this difficult period.

Now in 2021, we are able to look ahead in a different way, because we have a provisional schedule for recovery that is very different from the situation we all faced in March 2020.

Even so, during the second half of last year, we managed to reopen all our hotels with the exception of the PortoBay Hotel Teatro and PortoBay Marquês. This was very important not only for team spirit but also for the Group's own cash flow generation. At that time, we thought that this recovery curve would be stimulated by summer demand and develop more positively, which did not happen.

And what was it like to receive guests in the middle of a pandemic? Did you have to adapt significantly?

The year 2020 was a very steep learning curve. There were guests from new countries, new age segments, new service demands, new behaviours. With all of this, we learned a lot and we even made progress with adaptations in the area of infrastructure, in design and in the behaviour of our teams.

In terms of adaptation, notwithstanding PortoBay’s already high and widely recognised standards on hygiene and safety, we quickly reorganised ourselves to comply with and implement all health regulations. We appointed a director with a seat on the Operations Committee to take care of this. We created our own "Together We Care" protocol, implemented training for teams and hired the multinational SGS to audit and certify our practices. 

From the distribution point of view, given the limitations on our usual partners, we have been launching new proposals, including for local markets, in order to bring our brand closer to these new customers, without forgetting to maintain links and contacts with our network of repeat guests - who have been one of the pillars of success in the history of the PortoBay group.

I should also add that, in the case of Madeira, where we have seven hotels, the initiatives aimed at the local market have generated very positive reactions, both in accommodation for those used to holidaying away from the island, and in catering, namely at Il Basilico and the Avista. Once again we have invested in loyalty, this time with the Gourmet programme, which we want to maintain and increase in order to keep a close relationship with the local communities.

What is PortoBay doing to prepare for the future in terms of infrastructure?

We have reviewed our plans and decided to go forward with important investments, bearing in mind that the recovery will bring new market demands.

As far as infrastructure improvement is concerned, we are carrying out renovation work at several hotels - The Cliff Bay, Porto Santa Maria, The Residence, PortoBay Falésia and PortoBay Hotel Teatro. 

The most extensive renovations are taking place at the PortoBay Hotel Teatro in Porto and at The Cliff Bay in Madeira, including the refurbishment of Il Gallo d´Oro, Porto Bay’s leading two-Michelin-star restaurant.

And in terms of concepts?

We understand that cuisine is one of the key things that sets us apart, so we are going all out to consolidate our two culinary sub-brands - Il Basilico and the Bistrô - so that these concepts are common to all the group’s hotels in Portugal. Both concepts have been winners with their base and we have grasped the importance of delivering this consistency of brand and culinary experience at all of the destinations in which we operate.

To consolidate this objective, and in addition to the decision to introduce the concept of sub-brands, we have organised ourselves around a new gastronomic model, shared within PortoBay and led in the Kitchens by our Chef Benoît Sinthon. He is thereby combining the management of the two-Michelin-star Il Gallo d'Oro restaurant with consultancy and responsibility for the whole PortoBay customer base.

In short, with this work and in this environment, it is our goal to enshrine one of our guiding principles into these projects, the "3 Fs": to be "fit, fresh and fun". 

PortoBay has a very special community of repeat customers. What message can we pass on to them?

There is a simple message I would like to pass on to the whole PortoBay customer base. We are doing everything possible to continue to warrant your trust in choosing us, by maintaining the quality of our products and team, in an environment where the safety of all - customers and employees - is an assumed and fundamental given.

We are also reviewing the PortoBay loyalty programme so that we can take it a step further in the near future, and bring greater flexibility and even more value to our repeat customers.

For PortoBay, listening to our customers is vital in order for us to grow. And it is our goal to continue to listen to our members and what their expectations of us are. We have agreed on ideas about the next steps. We will, however, incorporate the contributions received from so many repeat customers who, in the meantime, even during this difficult period, have managed to keep up their visits, and from others who, unable to come, have sent us their comments and queries.

Is PortoBay incorporating new trends?

Yes, we are totally oriented towards Greater Versatility, Greater Mobility and Greater Loyalty. We are intensifying the internal discussion and aligning action tools. This means we can adapt in the best way possible to these market trends, which are almost certain to be irreversible.

Upcoming Insiders

This conversation with António Trindade launches a new section of the IN PortoBay blog called "PortoBay Insiders”. The aim of this section is to help readers get to know the faces behind the hotel group. Stay tuned for the upcoming ‘PortoBay Insiders’ !! To always stay up to date with news subscribe here. .. so that our articles reach you.
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