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Maintaining team morale and talent management during the unpredictability of COVID-19


By Richard Hatter


Note: This blog was first published on 13 July 2020 on , where Richard has been invited to contribute a monthly blog.


HOTELS is the only global publication in the hotel industry. Serving more 99,000 readers in more than 150 countries through online and print communications, the publication provides a global perspective on news, finance, development, technology, design, food and beverage, trends and more. Free registration is required to access the online content.

Back in late March, in accordance with the Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirement and Directions) (Business and Premises) Regulation (Cap. 599F) in HKSAR, the Secretary for Food and Health issued directions regarding catering business. The relevant requirements include:

  • Seating capacity must not exceed 50 percent at any one time

  • Maximum of four people allowed per table



In May, hotels and bars breathed a sigh of relief when the Hong Kong government announced that the social distancing rules were to be partially eased. Under our ‘We Love to Care’ philosophy, our dining outlets and facilities resumed normal operating hours while ensuring the safety and wellbeing of both our team members and guests.


Back to business with versatility

Offering exquisite Cantonese cuisine, Above and Beyond has resumed its regular daily operating hours. In order to provide a safe yet relaxing dining experience, talents from various departments ranging from IT, hospitality, guest relations to concierge were mobilised to support several operations during a time that calls for extraordinary measures. Meanwhile at The Market, we decided to take advantage of the spacious Silverbox ballroom as an alternative venue for our well-acclaimed brunch buffet to accommodate the increased number of bookings.


We are delighted to share that revenue from seasonal holidays is better than we had initially forecasted. Take Mother’s Day as an example, this year’s revenue forecast was half of last year’s due to the social distancing measures. It is fortunate these measures were eased three days prior to Mother’s Day, allowing our team overcome challenges and welcome guests with expert care.


Our staff operating with care as usual during our Mother's Day event.


With the relaxed social distancing measures in May, all dining outlets at Hotel ICON continued to adhere to the 1.5-metre distancing rule between tables, with the maximum number of customers per table raised from four to eight. We have put in place a multi-pronged approach designed to protect our guests and employees. While all staff is required to wear surgical masks during their duties, chefs are required to wear surgical masks with goggles at all times and wear gloves when handling food items. To ensure our guests are well protected, temperature checks are conducted when they enter the hotel as well as at all dining outlets. In addition, hand sanitizing stations and UV Light air purifiers have been set up at multiple locations in the hotel to provide our guests with the best level of cleanliness. 

Thanks to the willingness and agility of our staff in adapting to the changing hospitality norms, these phenomenal results would not have been possible without the contribution of our versatile talents. This is also a prime example of our “We love to care” philosophy. Otherwise, the new measures would not have been implemented smoothly without their caring service attitude.


Our staff setting up for the next table of guests at The Market.


Rediscovering the hotel spa 

We are thrilled to receive an overwhelming response since Angsana Spa, our spa outlet, reopened on 8 May. Our full team of professional therapists is back in service on weekends, providing a much-needed relaxing experience to those who are looking for rejuvenation.  


With help from the Banyan Tree Academy, our spa therapists received special pandemic management protocol action plans in preparation for their return to service. Similar to our dining outlets, extra precaution measures are implemented. Before the start of each treatment, proper cleaning, sanitising and sterilising of equipment and rooms are mandatory. All therapists are required to clean their hands with alcohol disinfectant before and after treatments, as well as wear a mask and goggles when they are in close contact with guests.


Final note

Without our team’s flexibility, this would not have been possible. It takes a team of talented individuals to learn new sets of operational skills to ensure every aspect of the hotel environment runs seamlessly. The success of managing talent and maintaining team morale amid the fast-evolving COVID-19 depends on one element: the attitude of compassionate employees who love to care.


As the pandemic situation in Hong Kong continues to fluctuate, we remain committed to the well-being of all guests and employees, taking stringent measures to maintain the highest standards of health and hygiene at all times while complying to social distancing measures. When it is time for travel to resume, we will be ready to welcome guests to our safe and clean environment.