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Viliam Sivek has long been one of the most famous Czech hoteliers. In the past, it operated the largest hotel chain in the country, later reducing the number of its hotels to six. After the covid pandemic, he owned only one hotel, Selský dvůr, which he rented from the municipality. The hotel market evaluates the change it has undergone in the last two years with a single word – “average”.
“People are deep in their pockets today. There is no purchasing power, “says Sivek, noting that despite the extreme energy prices, his hotel is still not full. “In January alone, we paid 100,000 crowns more for electricity than in the past. Nevertheless, we did not raise the prices. We can’t afford it, “adds Sivek.
Czech hotels are only slowly returning to the original numbers from the ancestor year 2019. “We are far from the numbers from 2019, but I believe that people will travel. However, the market will regroup. Hotels that offer more differentiated services will benefit. For example, wellness and other activities, “says Václav Stárek, President of the Association of Hotels and Restaurants of the Czech Republic.
The hotels also currently lack a clientele from Asian countries, which has still not set out for Europe due to the pandemic. Hybrid conferences, in turn, deprived hotels of congress participants and home offices of corporate clients. The war in Ukraine then took away their guests from Russia and also from the USA, for which Eastern Europe, where the Czechia unfortunately still belongs in the traditional mental maps, is simply a place of war.
Prague suffers from this, where, according to the Association’s data, the occupancy of accommodation facilities reached only 26 percent last year. Just for comparison, before the pandemic it was 80 percent. Prague thus lags significantly behind European cities such as Vienna, Budapest and Berlin.
“Overall, both years of the pandemic, Prague was significantly loss-making, and if it weren’t for our business in the mountains, I don’t know if we would still have all the hotels. However, the development of reservations this year is going quite well, so we’ll see, “says Jiří Gajdošík from Asten Hotels.
Revenues of hoteliers are also related to the decline. In terms of room, they fell to 18 euros, which is 75 percent less than before the pandemic. At that time, the average amount per room per night was more than 72 euros.
10 percent are over. They replaced them with new ones
The forces have also regrouped. “About ten percent of the hoteliers from our Association’s membership base have ended in those two years. On the other hand, new ones are increasing. It is impossible to say how many hotels have been reduced, usually when someone leaves the hotel, another operator is found, “adds Stárek.
For example, one of the best hotels in Marianske Lazne, Grandhotel Nabokov, was bought by the Czech Hotel Company from the Nagama company. New applicants are also applying for the former hotels run by Viliam Sivek.
Asten Hotels has expanded its network, and Pytloun Hotels has expanded by two branches during the pandemic.
“We anticipate that we could continue to grow at a similar pace. There are still many opportunities on the market and I believe that tourism will recover in the next two years. Perhaps there will be no major crisis and the weapons will soon die down in Ukraine as well, I would like to do the most, “says Lukáš Pytloun, CEO and owner of the Pytloun Hotels network.
And new players are coming. Last year, the Bestsport Stages Hotel Prague opened at the O2 Arena in Prague, and recently the Andaz Hotel of the American Hyatt network opened in the Cukrovarnický Palace on Senovážné náměstí in Prague, and the EA Congress Hotel Aldis in Hradec Králové.
Return? At the earliest in 2023
No one dares to predict when the situation will return to the pre-ancestral level. While Sivek fears it will take at least four to five years, Starek believes next year.
“It can be said that the first strong weekend we were used to in 2019 was Easter weekend. Today we can say that the market is not yet reaching the potential of 2019 and is very different in cities and mountains, where cities still lack corporate clients, “says Pytloun.
He adds that cities still have more supply than demand and the market is behaving very wildly. During the week, accommodation is sold at prices significantly lower than on weekends, and according to him, this condition will be maintained until the summer holidays. On the contrary, they look very promising, at least in the Pytloun hotel chain they could be better than in 2021.
“Those who follow the trends will come forward and meet them,” emphasizes Stárek, according to whom the trend could be fewer stays, but longer ones.
Other customers, other hoteliers
And what are the trends today? The customer has changed in recent years. It requires higher quality and additional services. He is booking his vacation at the last minute because he finds it better for him. He is more sensitive to the issue of hygiene and operational safety, and some are still concerned about more people.
“As for Špindlerův Mlýn, by focusing on the luxury segment, we have noticed that our guests have spent significantly more in our restaurants. We explain this by saying that ours could not travel abroad so often during the pandemic, so they enjoyed good food and drink more during shorter stays in the mountains, ”adds Gajdošík from Asten Hotels.
That’s why hoteliers have changed, they are more careful and their plans are shorter. “The crisis has taught us to respond flexibly to new situations. We use our size and move the workforce between hotels as needed, and in weaker periods our employees take holidays, ”says Petra Slabá, HR Director of Orea Hotels & Resorts.
The company also employed a robot. The Pyramida Hotel greets guests at the reception and provides basic information about Prague.