Keeping Hospitality Alive in Quarantine
Learn about Sticking to Company Core Values
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.
Hospitality during the Pandemic
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.
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