Keeping Hospitality Alive in Quarantine

The following is an excerpt from The Evangelists: Insights from Leaders of the Nation’s Most Beloved Brands. Written by Monica Padillo, this chapter is titled “Keeping Hospitality Alive in Quarantine.” In it, Nathalia Jardin, the PR and Activations Lead for RedDoorz Philippines, is interviewed about how the organization executes its strategy in customer service.   

While the Philippines moved through various stages of community quarantine, frontliners  such as doctors and nurses faced difficulties with their travels. Some encountered issues  with regards to travelling as there was a lack of public transport. Many were forced to sleep  elsewhere to be near their respective hospitals, as well as to quarantine themselves and  practice social distancing. 

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Tourism (DOT) opened select  hotels to house hospital workers, business process outsourcing (BPO) industry employees,  and overseas Filipino workers under mandatory self-quarantine.  

Nathalia Jardin, PR and Activations Lead for RedDoorz Philippines, a company that  aggregates existing budget hotels, said that their company played a big role in making that  possible.  

“The idea of the offering frontliner rooms came to me because of my brother, who is a  doctor serving at the Philippine General Hospital,” Jardin explained. The idea came to  Jardin after her brother had difficulty looking for a place to self-quarantine. 

She got in touch with DOT and offered to open RedDoorz’s partner hotels to house  frontliners wherever the government needs it. The hotels were guaranteed to be quiet and  clean, and if DOT were to accept the offer, Jardin promised to follow all safety standards  set by the country’s Department of Health to make sure everything was safe. She also  offered to have bulk rooms rented out to them as well as give some rooms for free to  whoever would need it. She also reached an agreement to extend the offer to overseas  Filipino workers in need of a place to self-quarantine after returning to the country.  

Her idea caused a chain effect that benefitted both the hospitality and tourism industry, all  while providing help to those who needed it.  

Jardin presented herself as the “brand” of the company. When she interacted with others,  she embodied the values of RedDoorz so people could have an idea of what it would be  like to work with them. At its base, RedDoorz is a hospitality brand, and she tries to bring  that branding with her wherever she goes. Her idea of providing temporary housing is proof of that. 

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting quarantine have changed the game for many  businesses in the tourism sector. Hotels were mostly empty as people stayed confined to  their homes. Hotels have had to adjust accordingly to this “new normal.” 

Even the way Jardin communicated with journalists has changed with the pandemic; she  went from having face-to-face meetings in cafes to having Zoom calls instead. However,  even if their methods of communication have changed, Jardin stays true to her vision and  the company’s. “I make sure that I’m not there for business,” she explained. “I make sure that I’m there because I’m interested to know who they are, who they really are outside  work.” 

The way Jardin talked about RedDoorz varied depending on her audience. When dealing  with corporate partners, especially for their media initiatives, she focused more on talking  about the company’s characteristics as a corporate entity, focusing on their business deals  and statistics. It can get hard, though, especially when it comes to scheduling. “If the media  doesn’t know RedDoorz, it’s hard to pitch, because I honestly say it’s a start up,” she said.  However, Jardin persisted, and did her best to push the company forward through making  calls and promoting their services on the internet.  

As a startup, it was also important that RedDoorz utilized media well to get themselves out  there. “I really feel that one of my main purposes as a media relations manager is to merge  the media, the government, and the brand at the same time,” Jardin said. “It’s also about  what impact it has for the Filipinos but at the same time for the economy.”  

To better meet the expectations of different stakeholders, Jardin also had a hand in  her company’s government relations and corporate social responsibility. Promoting her  idea to provide rooms for RedDoorz wasn’t easy, as there was a lot of paperwork and  compromises to be made. However, she got through it and managed to fulfill two things— to put RedDoorz out there, and to start a chain of help and social responsibility.  

“With the government, it’s always best to have a pure and genuine relationship,” Jardin  said. “It’s best if both of you understand that they want to make an impact on economic  development.” 

On the other hand, things were a bit different when dealing with lifestyle journalists  and publications. “It’s more casual, just something light, and I don’t do a hard sell,” she  explained. “If I’m gonna pitch a story, we just talk, eat, have coffee, and at the end of the  meet, that’s where I bring up my pitch.” 

Quarantine has also forced Jardin the RedDoorz approach to handling events. Before, they  would spend half a million on a consumer-led event. Now, they’ve migrated their events  online and host webinars. As most people are still confined to their homes, RedDoorz’s  marketing instead centers on promoting some of their branches that they can visit once  traveling is possible again. Event promotion is also different—the millions they might save  from promotion, they pour into more aggressive means of marketing, such as email, short  messaging service (SMS), digital ads, and the like. Thus, it was quite a learning curve to  overcome.  

However, the turnout in attendance to online events is different. In Jardin’s experience,  their online events have a lower turnout compared to real-life events. “What we found  out is that still the majority of the audiences would want to feel and see it,” she explained. 

Regardless of whether there was a crisis or not, Jardin had to get creative in communicating  the value RedDoorz could bring to the customer. Through a willingness to move marketing  strategies to new platforms and adjust to different stakeholders, Jardin demonstrates that  although the process is difficult, it is not impossible.

To get more insights from other marketing leaders like Nathalia Jardin, please check out the full book, available for purchase here


The Evangelists - and other business books about the Philippines and Asia Pacific - will soon be streaming on Audiophile, our platform for exclusive Filipino audiobooks.

 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published