Hotels told to put the customer first

Swiss hotels have not been listening to their guests Keystone

Switzerland Tourism says hundreds of Swiss hotels are not equipped to deal with the demands of modern tourists.

This content was published on August 4, 2003 minutes

The organisation wants around 1,000 establishments to close to help the country’s struggling tourism industry.

According to Switzerland Tourism, many smaller hotels fail to respond to the needs of guests. Around two-thirds of Switzerland’s 5,700 hotels have 20 beds or less.

Tourism chiefs say that while these smaller establishments were popular 150 years ago, they are now outdated and have become too stuck in their ways.

“They are mostly managed in an old-fashioned style, in a passive manner and don’t have the means to carry out renovations or market themselves,” said Laurence Gabriel, spokeswoman for Switzerland Tourism.

Switzerland Tourism says it envisages fewer but larger hotels, able to afford features such as swimming pools, health spas and outdoor activities.

More effort

But the Swiss Hotel Association believes shutting down a large proportion of Switzerland’s small hotels is hardly the best solution.

Christian Rey, the association’s president, says many of them are capable of rejuvenating themselves.

“[Small hotels] must make more of an effort and be more sensitive to what their clients want,” he said.

He added that smaller establishments would benefit from joining forces with similar-sized hotels. By centralising services, such as laundry and childcare, they could make considerable savings.

Laurence Gabriel says one way for small hotels to adapt to modern demands would be to “specialise”. She suggests themes such as “kids hotels” or those focusing on health and fitness.

Switzerland Tourism is also recommending that small hotels join an international reservations network, advertise in foreign travel brochures and affiliate themselves with a large hotel chain.

But market conditions won’t make survival easy. Swiss hotels pay 45 per cent more for their electricity and 30 per cent more in staff wages, compared with their European neighbours.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The Swiss hotel industry registered 2.71 million overnight stays in June 2003, down by 133,000 on the same period the year before.
Last year, there were 66 million overnight stays in Switzerland’s hotels.
Switzerland currently has a total of 260,000 hotel beds.
In June, parliament approved subsidies of SFr115 million ($85 million) for Switzerland’s tourism industry, to be distributed between 2003 and 2007.

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