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Lessons Learned from Dealing with Zika

By El Conquistador, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

Last year Puerto Rico’s tourism industry was affected by Zika more than any country in the Caribbean.  El Conquistador decided to take various steps to help overcome the negative publicity of Puerto Rico and provide peace of mind to customers.  We decided that communication to guests and public in general was crucial.  A joint statement from the Puerto Rico Tourism Company and the resort was added to our website; statements were written for any group/leisure traveler inquiring about zika and how it may affect their travels. Testimonials and videos were collected and shared with upcoming/new groups/conventions.

Communication to our resort staff was necessary.  Resort staff was informed as new developments were made available; tools and resources for employees were shared and made readily available. The Hotel provided resources for our guests. Mosquito/insect repellents are available throughout resort shops from all natural products at the spa to a variety of products and sprays in our main retail shop.  All outdoor meetings/events are provided with insect repellent stations featuring a variety of products guests could use as needed while enjoying their outdoor function.

Due to the large and negative media coverage given to zika in Puerto Rico, it was imperative that the Tourism Company and Hotels looked for new alternatives to bring business to Puerto Rico. El Conquistador Sales team actively visited clients/customers to answer any questions/concerns. New markets were focused on and different sales strategies were implemented. Due to this strategy we can say that past customers and customers based in areas also effected by zika became a more loyal base for group business.  Our Managing Director, Mr. Dermot Connolly traveled to the USA to personally answer the concerns to the groups that had future business at our hotel and participated in media interview coordinated by the destination.

Other standard practice established by the resort was to fumigate for mosquitoes throughout the year, and new natural products were introduced to not only assist with fumigation but also help keep the resort “greener”.

The product is biodegradable and is made of lemon grass oil, garlic oil, citronella oil, cedar wood oil, rosemary oil and geraniol. This product is approved by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency and does not have a negative effect on butterflies, birds, fish or any mascots.

In 2017 this measures has been implemented and are part of a continuous plan of pest control prevention. The engagement that we had with our customers through social media platforms and websites will continue and has become part of our communication strategy.

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