Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read March 2021 — Located in warm, sunny Florida, The Vinoy’s iconic identity in Downtown St. Pete has helped the hotel remain on people’s radars throughout the pandemic. The majority of travelers have been vacationers rather than on business, General Manager Tabish Siddiquie told Invest.
How has the hospitality industry changed because of the pandemic, and which of those changes are good for the industry?
I think the hospitality industry put a new, even more stringent emphasis on cleanliness and sanitization during the pandemic, and that is most likely here to stay. The Vinoy has always been dedicated to creating a healthy and safe environment for our guests and it’s great to see travelers appreciate those efforts even more now.
Restaurateurs have always been innovators. Across the industry, we saw restaurant owners quickly pivot to make sure their businesses could stay afloat during these unprecedented times, from nearly shutting down, to launching food to go, then creating and sustaining outdoor dining. That’s another impressive evolution we’ve seen during this time.
With this new awareness about cleanliness and confidence, how are you working to increase that trust in your customers?
The Vinoy shares the Marriott International family’s commitment to cleanliness. When a guest decides to stay at The Vinoy, they are likely choosing a Marriott-branded hotel because of the confidence they have, not just in the experience but also in our cleanliness. The Vinoy always took that extremely seriously, and now it’s right at the forefront. It’s our job to make sure we deliver on that.
At The Vinoy, guests can choose to opt out of housekeeping services. Certain guests like having daily housekeeping at a resort and enjoy the feeling of being pampered. Other guests might not feel comfortable with someone coming into the room every day, and we will accommodate that while maintaining cleanliness procedures for the common surfaces. At The Vinoy, we periodically sanitize all high-touch surfaces; we use an electrostatic sprayer in public areas; and we are working with our guests to make sure they wear masks while on The Vinoy’s property.
What is the main benefit for the hotel from being located in St. Petersburg?
The Vinoy is located in Florida, in the Sunshine State, so that’s a great advantage. When I was moving from Denver, which also has great weather, people constantly joked that I was trading the cold for the warmth. That resonates with a lot of people. Situated on Florida’s west coast, The Vinoy offers a wide variety of outdoor elements across its expansive campus, like beautiful walking/biking paths and tranquil outdoor pools. There is really something for everyone.
Surrounded by the vibrant city of St. Petersburg, The Vinoy is just a short walk from several large parks, the newly revamped pier and an eclectic mix of restaurants, stores and museums. We also manage The Vinoy Club Marina, which is located in front of the hotel.
Have the hotel’s demographics changed because of the pandemic, and have you changed your marketing as a result?
One of the advantages of being in Florida is that leisure travelers and those in our drive markets are probably still traveling more than other types of travelers. Since stay-at-home restrictions lifted this past summer, the travel industry has seen an uptick in leisure travel within drive markets. The nearby airlift and the fact that The Vinoy is in a big drive market from Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and other major cities has helped us quite a bit.
We are seeing predominantly leisure travelers, small meetings and social events that are still booking. Large groups are not booking right now because extensive business travel has been temporarily reduced, as travelers who used to do face-to-face meetings are now hosting them digitally. The Vinoy’s marketing efforts have always had a focus on digital and social, and we’re placing an emphasis on that now more than ever.
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